My Life in Ads with Carma Andraos
Posted on 2017 Jan,27  | By Rik Corijn

Carma Andraos is the creative director and managing partner of Lorem Ipsum, one of the young-up-and-coming boutique agencies in Beirut. In a charming mix of Lebanese Franglais, she takes us through the ads that shaped her adventurous carrière, or as the Romans say: Audentis Fortuna Iuvat (fortune favours the brave).


The Ad that Got Me into Advertising



I went into graphic design tout simplement because I was very bad at school: physics, math, biology, chemistry. But I used to draw very well. So, I thought to myself, why not graphic design? It was amazing. We were learning all those pretty skills. Illustration was one of them, typography was another and we were starting to use computers. Yet, it felt trop gratuit. Ok, I did nice typography, but for what, just for being pretty? I am a Virgo and everything needs to have a raison d’être. Something was missing and advertising was the answer. A problem is presented through a brief, which needs to be solved visually. Boom. I chose this ad, because there’s a concept, not just typography. Everybody knows what Strepsils does. “Aaaahhh” becomes “Huuuhhh.”


My First Real Ad

I had just started at Leo Burnett. The client’s brief was really simple: “Crepaway is a place where you feel good. We want people to feel at home. We’re very casual, not pretentious.” It was a period when showing-off had just started in Beirut. Posh m’as-tu-vu places were mushrooming. There were even nightclubs where your name appeared on a screen every time you ordered a magnum bottle of champagne. The paraître was all over. I came up with the line during the briefing. “Come as you are.” That’s it, full stop. 

At that time, there was no social media, but I started reading in the newspaper about people going to Crepaway in their PJs. One girl went almost naked. When people told her: “You can’t enter like that”, she answered: “Si. It says ‘Come as you are’ right here.” Now it would have gone viral. When I left for Dubai, a friend sent me an edit of a French advertising talk show. Somebody asked: “Did MacDo’s ‘Venez comme vous êtes’ copy a small Lebanese fast food chain?” It was kinda flattering. 


My Big Bang Ad



Easy, simple, no brief. It wasn’t even my account. I just saw a picture file and thought: ‘Mmm, this is interesting. If we could just hide a number …’ My copywriter only had to ad the line 'Keep Them Guessing.’ It’s even realistic. 58 becomes 53. I’m not staying: if you're 60, you’ll look like 20. It won several awards and was shortlisted in Cannes. Good times.


My Renaissance Ad



Besides advertising, I also do events. I treat them the same. There’s always a concept and we work the whole event accordingly. It has to be consistent. One day, Mini called. They liked the Cotton Candy spirit. They wanted to do a bi-yearly Ride & Drive, a kind of after-sales service. All the people who bought a Mini, would be invited for a Ride & Drive to spend the day somewhere together. Mini’s platform was ‘Not normal’ so we applied this everywhere. The invitation was upside down, printed on the envelope. At the event, there were plenty of activities, like a ‘mannequin challenge’ before there was a ‘mannequin challenge.’ A foam party. Mimes doing stuff. A body on the floor. Models as valet attendants. We even threw 30.000 balls when the people arrived. It was raining balls. Nothing was normal.


The Ad that Never Was

I had just started my own agency ‘Lorem Ipsum’ with two partners. During those early days, there was a big scandal surrounding the ugly side of Lebanon. A heavily mistreated Ethiopian maid was shot and being dragged through the streets by her hair. She ended up committing suicide. The agency was quick to react. We came up with a bold message twisting the infamous ‘Made in Lebanon’ logo. The play on words even works as good in Arabic. The photographer shot the picture for free. We called Pikasso, who immediately offered us a network. All the NGO’s were on our side. Unfortunately, all outdoor media has to pass censorship and due to the graphic nature of the created work, our ad was rejected. They thought the picture was too violent, which is kind of ironic considering the country we’re living in. So there we were with a visual in our hands, which we posted to Facebook for the hell of it. All of a sudden, it went viral. Local TV, French newspapers, the Ethiopian Times, local and international blogs, all featured the visual. Merci Facebook!


The Ad I Wish I had on my Show Reel

The Luminou ads. I just love them for their randomness. They are easy and absurd at the same time. What I also like is how simple, unpretentious, and funny they are, so much so, they could easily be construed as a demo. Most of all, I think I love the client for his balls and humour.