December 11, 2005

Iraqi Poster Wars: Horse Of A Different Color



Is Ayad Allawi running a campaign with two faces?

In general, Ayad Allawi’s campaign posters bear a decidedly Western-style design and a modern, professional look.  For that reason, there is a marked discrepancy between the graphics produced for Allawi himself, and for his slate.  Allawi is running as part of  the Iraqi National List, which is made up of secular Sunnis and Shi’ites, and includes the well known senior Sunni politician Adnan al-Pachachi (right, above) and Hameed Majeed (left above) representing the Communist party.


As compared to these slick Allawi posters that have blanketed the country, however, notice how much simpler and homegrown the lists’ logo is.

One question worth asking is why there isn’t more integration between Allawi’s visuals and those of the slate?  Perhaps the slick "western" version is designed as much for foreign consumption, whereas the "in-country" logo is intended to code as more crude and muscular.  (Might the top photo subliminally reflect this theme with Allawi the tool between two big balls — or breasts, even?)
On the campaign operations and finance front, there was some interesting information regarding the Allawi campaign in today’s election update in the NYT.

The first curious element was the fact the man they interviewed, the
co-director of Mr. Allawi’s campaign, indicated that he had no prior
campaign experience. In spite of that fact, he somehow oversees 80
campaign workers (including offices in every province) with a budget of
$2.5 million.
In terms of strategy, the co-director, a civil engineer named
Azzam Alwash, said that the campaign decided to emphasize TV, radio and
newspaper ads following widespread vandalism of their posters.
According to the article:

Mr. Allawi’s has its own newspaper and enough money to pay for
plenty of television and radio time…. Rates for political spots on
the larger Baghdad stations run as high as $3,000 per minute.

As usual, I have a couple questions.  First, are we to believe that the actual co-director of the Allawi campaign has no campaign experience after Allawi conducted a major, Western-style campaign for the parliamentary election in January?

Then there’s the question of,where is all the money is coming from. If
a political spot costs $3,000 per minute and the campaign has been
buying heavily, it sounds like the $2.5 million number could be low —
especially if some number of those 80 workers are paid.

And lastly, It’s interesting how the report suggests how
plentiful the money is. I can’t remember reading about any campaign —
domestically or abroad — where money wasn’t of constant concern.

(revised 12/11/05 1:34 pm PST)

(image 1: Karim Sahib/EPA. December 15,
2005. Baghdad. Via YahooNews. image 2: Samir Mizban/Reuters. December
15, 2005. Baghdad. Via YahooNews. image 3: Hadi Mizban/A.P. December 2,
2005. Baghdad. Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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