A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Bank Med gets serious

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 17, 2008

Those of you who follow the Lebanese and Syrian news are well aware of the allegations flying back and forth over just which party funded Fath al-Islam, the Salafi terrorist group that took up residence in Nahr al-Bared until its slow and painful three-month routing by the Lebanese army in summer 2007.

Allegations that the Hariri family had helped fund this group surfaced when the conflict erupted, in May 2007, but then largely disappeared. But the “confessions” of several militants broadcast recently on Syrian television has reinvigorated the issue, with various media outlets (and particularly the party-affiliated print media) scrambling to report allegations and counter-allegations.

And now I see that BankMed, the Hariri-owned banking conglomerate, has posted a “i3lan”-style advertisement in the Daily Star and (more logically) the Arabic press:


This sure looks like one of the government announcements that the papers post from time to time, since it has no corporate branding. And its opening line suggests that the paper’s editorial staff is presenting the text, rather than the bank: What follows has come to us from Bank Med. But the signatory at the bottom is the bank, and the use of the first person plural (“our bank”, for example) is used throughout.

To give a very crude summary, the “announcement” basically says that the media have been publishing unsupported accusations that the bank has funded terrorist groups and participated in “other crimes”. Which is a valid point: media outlets tend to take the word of “their” politicians at face value, and “proof” can be anything from one man’s public statement to an obscure document brandished at a press conference.

I don’t object to BankMed defending itself, but from a marketing perspective I am a bit skeptical about the format used here. I think branding this “announcement” as a BankMed piece, with logo and proprietary font, would have been appropriate – after all, the bank is defending its own reputation as a corporate institution. But using this “generic” format to me suggests both government announcements and the absence of any institutional affiliation: in font and graphic design it is totally neutral.

On the other hand, perhaps this is a requirement for corporate announcements? Sukleen, another Hariri entity, also uses this format to make its announcements, which are also different from its advertisements (although when I checked my last post on this, I realized that the Sukleen logo does appear in the announcement).

Does anyone know whether the format differences are the result of legal restrictions, rather than (as I assumed initially) a design choice? I am eager to learn more :).


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