Is it a commentary on China’s influence in the Middle East? Is it a critique of Hosni Mubarak’s rule in Egypt? Is it another example of the banality of violence in popular culture? Or is it perhaps a commentary on the bullying associated with “democratic” elections in authoritarian states? Choose for yourself.
The award-winning adverts have brought everyday glimpses of life in the Arab world to a global audience. Digital Trends believes that “the depictions of the office and supermarket are in part there to show Americans that life in Egypt is not so different from our own.”
"The Arabist" points out this is perhaps the first viral video from the Arab world to go global. In this sense the ad campaign is an important contribution to the ever developing global idea space.
A blogger at "Los Angeles Weekly" noted it had the perfect formula for a hit commercial: "oddly compelling characters, a killer soundtrack, and a stock yet endlessly amusing sequence of events.”
Elephant Cairo, the agency behind the campaign, has said that the Panda commercials are not meant to be anything other than humorous. The name of the company itself is a subtle programming joke. The decision by Elephant Cairo to use an English-language soundtrack is uncommon on Arab television channels. This implies that the filmmakers had in mind a commercial with global appeal, not just something cheesy.
-- Joseph Hammond