Sep 10 2013
Eat your heart out, Barack Hussein Obama. General Sisi has decimated your pals in the Muslim Brotherhood, declaring them enemies of the state. The Egyptian people see Sisi as a savior, who pulled Egypt away from the Morsi dictatorship, and turned it into a non-discriminatory state, where all can live in harmony.
From cookies to burgers to dates, it’s been products galore for Egyptians incessantly searching for new ways to shower their army leader with compliments. Egypt’s army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has emerged as one of the most powerful people in the country after he deposed Islamist President Mohammad Mursi on July 3, sparking nationalist fervor and widespread resentment of the Islamists.
The Islamists, of course, have a different opinion of Sisi:
But, along with his surge in popularity, has the obsession with the general turned into a branding game, all part of an attempt to propagate “Brand Sisi” across the country? The “Sisi Mix” sandwich. A top fast food chain has now introduced a “Sisi sandwich,” following in the footsteps of the makers of “C-C cookies,” shaped in two Cs and baked last month during the Islamic holiday of Eid.
During Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting which ended last August, “Sisi dates” were on sale in markets across the country, sparking a trend perfect for Sisi fans fancying a sweet treat. Chocolates and cupcakes decorated with iced images of the general went on sale at a Cairo confectionary store this week. A sweet tooth for Sisi?
All the while, fans on Facebook have created hundreds of pages obtaining millions of “likes” from those who want to pledge their allegiance to the top brass. Among the pictures being circulated on social media are images of a saluting Sisi superimposed with a lion or an eagle, with captions boastful of his “lion heart.”
This has only been a snippet of the general’s new found cult of personality, that has also been bolstered with state and independent media broadcasts of pro-military songs. The print media has not been the exception, with many outlets also profusely praising the general.
“The ‘Sisi Campaign’ is not coordinated on purpose nor mandated by the state, but the ‘Sisi Brand’ appears to have imposed its presence by popular demand,” Ahmed Emad, an Egyptian advertising professional and blogger, told Al Arabiya English.
“What comes up on social media in terms of pictures, logos, jokes and catchphrases are all a fruit of user generated content (UGC); from the people, to the people. “With a population of 90 million that is known to crack jokes on any given situation, you’ll end up with lots of UGC material to use in any campaign,” Emad added. (Reports are that up to 30 million people took to the streets in support of the military deposing the Muslim Brotherhood dictator – Mohamed Morsi)
Analysts also said that Egyptians’ “love for Sisi” appeared to overshadow the protester deaths following the army’s dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood-led sit-ins in Cairo on Aug. 14. The dispersal resulted in more than 600 deaths, according to official ministry reports, while the Brotherhood stated the death toll was closer to 2,200.
“It’s more of the same iteration of post-uprising opportunism,” Charles Holmes, a Middle East analyst with a background in government communications, told Al Arabiya. “In the immediate aftermath of the January 2011 uprising, the rebranding of consumer products and Egyptian car and telecoms companies, like Vodafone and Mobinil, was unbelievable.” (Not to mention the positive effect this will have on reviving the tourism industry in Egypt)
“The commercial reaction was massive,” says Holmes, noting how the adverts of such companies following the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak featured images showing their support of the uprising, such as kids’ having Egyptian flags painted on their faces.
“That’s all now yesterday’s news. It’s an old chapter that has become obsolete. The latest chapter in the story is what has happened in the past few months. “From the commercial point of view, it’s best to follow the wave of Egyptian popular opinion. It’s a very melodramatic culture, and now General Sisi is the man of the moment,” adds Holmes.