Sated and drained, many Egyptians are hardly fit to do much more than lounge in front of the television after a long day of fasting in Ramadan — a fact only exacerbated by the ever-growing number of mosalsalat (TV series) saved all year to air in Ramadan.
That is where advertisers swoop in. Knowing that viewers’ eyes will be glued to their screens, they pull out all the stops, creating sometimes the most emotive, other times the funniest advertisement they can muster.
Ironically, the past few years have seen companies create ads so full of comedic flair, that some viewers fail to even remember what product was being sold. Nevertheless, creatives in the advertising industry have been known to show their skill in Ramadan like no other time of year.
Despite a growing audience switching to online streaming services such as Netflix and WatchIt for their mosalsalat – specifically to avoid the lengthy commercial breaks – they still fondly remember the ads about everything from sweets to banks, and the laughs they gave them.
The jury may still be out on whether this year will see as colourful a lineup of comedic commercials as the past years have, but in the meantime, here are some of our audience’s favourite funny Ramadan ads from the past decade.
If you like puns in your humour, you may still remember this series of commercials for Sprite, featuring a lemon and a lime with a bitter sense of humour. After watching this commercial, you may never hear the name Hossam the same way again.
While Birell is known for centering toxic masculinity in its ads, they seem to have struck gold with this apparently sarcastic take on the problematic theme. The catchphrase “Edrab sahbak law homa keteer” (hit your friend if there are many of them) remains present in the ears of many who were around to watch the commercial all those years ago.
Nestle Cream Egypt (2012)
Watching out for local trends, creatives at Nestle did not miss out on the chance to capitalise on the mahraganat hype. The catchy, autotuned punchline was a source of belly laughs for many Egyptians when this ad for MaxiBon ice cream aired.
National Bank of Egypt (2012)
Advocating for its support for small businesses, the National Bank of Egypt launched a series of ads with the slogan “makanak mesh hena” (your place is not here), depicting people in jobs that were decidedly wrong for them. Despite the short duration of each ad, the performances of the actors made them memorable even a decade later. Out of the fabric vendor wishing he were on a fisherman’s boat, the security guard adjusting the trouser leg of the man he is patting down, and the gas station attendant hoping for an ironing business, which one is your favourite?
Mountain View (2013)
It is unclear whether Mountain View was aware that it was arguably satirising its own product and target audience with this ad, but the iconic “me and my wife” in this ad about a New Cairo gated community showed a hilarious caricature of wealthy, Westernised Egyptians.
Who doesn’t get carried away romanticising the past when they are feeling nostalgic? In one of the best-loved funny Ramadan commercials Egypt has seen in memory – and exhibit A of an ad so independently funny that many forget what it was selling – generations clash over Crunch’s then-new snack, which a middle-aged family member mistakes for the elusive “Skenchizer”. Many phrases from the monologue about the entirely made up sweet have since found their way into everyday Egyptian vernacular.
According to this ad, Midea air conditioning “beylattaf el gaw” (cools down the atmosphere) to the point that a robbery can result in a casual conversation about interesting historical facts, shared birthdays, and cantaloupe juice. This is not the only commercial in the series. Midea also offers a hoot with a scene set in a restaurant where the patrons do not mind the poor service one bit thanks to the AC’s atmospheric support.
Who is the mysterious Mona? No one knows, but so many people remember her and her apparently miraculous air conditioner. It is unclear whether Ramadan coinciding with hot weather informed the boom in AC-related humour, but this chaotic ad was another audience favourite.