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Social Media Reacts to Tortina – valU Partnership

March 30, 2023
(Photo Credit: valU / Tortina)

In recent years, Tortina has grown famous for launching playful variations on the traditional kunafa – a dessert made of pastry soaked in a sugar-based syrup, and sometimes layered with nuts and cream – during the month of Ramadan. 

From Tres Leches, Lotus, and Mango kunafas; to the punnily named ghar’ana, a kunafa ‘drowning’ in condensed milk; and madloo’a, a Syrian kunafa ‘spoiled’ with condensed milk, sponge cake, and a light layer of cream.

This year saw the launch of its latest creative venture, in partnership with smart payment application valU: ‘kunafa met’asata’ (kunafa paid in installments). 

Presumably inspired by a joke one commentator made ahead of the holy month, this Ramadan’s kunafa pun took social media users by surprise. 

News of the marketing stunt was shared to the Twitter account of news site Bankawy on 20 March, along with the link to an online registration form through which users could sign up to buy and pay for the kunafa in installments. 

The tweet, quoted over 400 times, elicited responses ranging from laughter to disbelief and dismay at what some found to be a “tone deaf” advertisement.

Some users expressed surprise or simply regarded the pun as such, joking about the absurdity of selling desserts on an installment plan:

Translation: What were you in jail for? Oh, nothing, just late to pay installments on my kunafa

Translation: So if I want to eat kunafa, I’ll get myself indebted until Islamic New Year [in July]!

Translation: I think we should ruin the Tortina/valU collab by paying for the met’asata in cash. 

Others found the advertisement to be offensive or felt that it made light of the gravity of the current inflation crisis:

Translation: Someone tell Tortina to stop, this is stupid and unfunny. It’s not right that Tortina makes huge profits like it does every year and we need to borrow money to pay for a kunafa. This is completely idiotic. 

Translation: This is so rude and in such poor taste, enough of this

Translation: I like Tortina and the things they come up with are always nice, but this kunafa installment plan thing is awful and extremely tone deaf. 

Many users, like the below, did not directly poke criticism at the advertisement, but rather at the broader economic downturn which they found it to be symptomatic of:

Translation: Tortina’s target market is upper and middle-income people, so when they do something like that, it means the current situation is very sad. 

As several users were quick to note, Tortina is not the first food vendor to provide customers with the ability to pay for its products in installments — a trend driven by the growing inaccessibility of non-essential and leisure purchases. 

One user pondered the potential dangers of this installment craze, warning that paying for non-necessities in installments could ultimately become a gateway to serious debt. 


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