'Poor' Sabahi's campaign can't even afford billboards: Advisor

Ahram Online, Tuesday 13 May 2014

Advertising executive of Hamdeen Sabbahi's campaign says the cash-strapped team 'doesn't have the money of El-Sisi's' campaign'

Hamdeen Sabahi
Supporters of presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi hold his banner during a rally in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, May 11, 2014. (AP Photo)

A publicity agent in charge of the election campaign of presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi says his team has spent only a small fraction of what his rival has paid out in advertising costs.

Madiha Zaki, director of Sabahi's advertising campaign, said they've spent well less than LE100,000 (roughly $14,200) on campaigning, in marked contrast to spending figures for Sabahi's only other contender, former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Zaki's comments were reported on Tuesday by Reuters' Aswat Masriya.

On Monday, the chief advertising advisor of El-Sisi's campaign – media mogul Tarek Nour – said they'd already spent LE12 million on advertising. Nour told Aswat Masriya that half of the money had gone to press conferences while the other half went to advertisements – TV, radio, billboards and posters.

El-Sisi is highly tipped to win the vote on 26-27 May as he has been riding on a wave of popularity since he led the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi last summer following massive protests against his one-year rule.

A revised law setting out election rules lifted the campaigning spending cap to as much as LE20 million (roughly $280,000), a two-fold increase in the allowed budget of the 2012 election that brought Morsi to power.

The bank account of Sabahi's campaign in which donations are deposited has not been credited with much money. According to Zaki, the account has received as few as LE200,000  (roughly $28,000) in donations, which she attributes to the campaign not being sponsored by any businessmen.

The money, Zaki said, principally goes to popular conferences – costing some LE1,000 (roughly $142) each and organised by "modest, self efforts" to target "the poor, peasants and the marginalised."

Sabahi, a leftist politician, came third in the 2012 election.

His cash-strapped campaign, which heavily relies on volunteering, has also turned down several pitches by advertising agencies due to its shoestring budget.

"We had to turn down the offers because we cannot afford to hire such companies," said Zaki, herself an unpaid volunteer.

Only one TV ad, contributed by a person who requested to be anonymous, will be shown this week, the advertising coordinator said.

While billboards of El-Sisi can been seen in some Egyptian streets, Sabahi's team has failed to secure any at all, as Zaki says the campaign is "poor" and "does not have the money of El-Sisi's campaign."

Outdoor advertisements of El-Sisi were largely limited upon a request by the retired field marshal "not to squander money and to keep spending as low as possible," according to his publicity advisor Nour.

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