Vodafone Egypt & Ibn Firnas: Strategic Communication in the Age of Social Media (A) and (B) Cases

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El Khazendar Business Research and Case Center

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Ahmed El-Sabban; Iman Seoudi; Mohamed Kandil; Tarek El Erian

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Date

Fall 1-12-2016


The case tells the story of a strategic communications crisis that happened as a result of an advertising campaign, which Vodafone Egypt launched in fall 2010 to promote its mobile broadband service. The advertisement used humor to entertain viewers and showed modern comedian actors going back in time to the ninth century when the polymath Abbas IbnFirnas was launching his flying experiment in Cordoba, Andalusia (currently Spain). Some viewers took offense, feeling the advertisement mocked an icon of Arab Islamic civilization, and trivialized his scientific contributions while crediting Western inventors of the first flying machine. Viewers expected Vodafone to show more sensitivity and respect to the Egyptian and Arab viewers and customers. Social media activists launched campaigns on several social media platforms complaining about Vodafone’s advertisement and their subsequent inadequate handling of the situation. The case series describes the initial actions and the unfolding events in the tension between the popular British brand the social media activists and fans. The case interestingly takes place a couple of months before the January 25th 2011 revolution, in which social media also played a significant role.

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