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Saturday, May 22, 2010

War of Words Over Tarkan

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany

Screencap of reportsThe TV critic for Taraf newspaper's Telesiyej column has covered Turkish megastar Tarkan in a 20 May dated column, headlined "Tarkan's Success and Pepsi Türkiye's Failure to Get Their Message Across!" while Sabah correspondent Mevlüt Tezel has criticised the Taraf writer for defending the artist after being dumped by the soft drink giant's arm in Turkey.

UPDATES: TV critic responds to Tezel >>
Tezel in more war of words >>

It was reported last March that Pepsi had dumped a million dollar sponsorship deal with Tarkan after the pop singer was taken into custody by narcotics.

<< Read about Tarkan's four day detainment by Turkish authorities here

"I Told You So"

TV critic Telsiyej begins his piece by reminding readers of the critic's previous article critical of the Pepsi decision in the light of Tarkan's comeback with "Sevdanın Son Vuruşu" ("Love's Last Strike").

"I don't want to say I told you so, and I don't like it being said or those that say it. But you often feel like saying it in this country, I know that, too. You can ignore some for courtesy's sake ... but there comes a time when you just want to explode. That's when you just let loose and want to throw out all those 'I told you so's' you kept pushed down.

"This is such a moment; when Pepsi Cola Türkiye cancelled its deal with Tarkan, I had sometime ago described it as a lack of vision and a failure to write the future; ... I had hinted that Tarkan could very soon produce an album that would explode onto [the music scene] to quickly change all the parameters. I had said that the private sector was after engineering moral etiquette rather than sponsoring art, and that the public hadn't prejudged Tarkan [so why should Pepsi].

"In fact a short while later, results from a Celebrity Trust Index survey, carried out by MediaCat in conjunction with Ipsos KMG, had been released by MediaCat Online to reveal that Tarkan's results had risen from 5 to 6 percent under the headline "Public Trust in Tarkan Hasn't Dropped, It's Risen".

"Then last week, just one song from Tarkan began to play on the radios to herald the coming of his soon-to-be released album. And suddenly everyone went crazy, during the past week the radios played Tarkan's song the most. It was on everyone's lips, columnists sang the praises of the song called "Sevdanın Son Vuruşu". It was perceived [as a comeback], but "Sevdanın Son Vuruşu" wasn't the album's [best song]; it was just a message that the album was filled with much stronger songs."

"We Want Tarkan, Not Pepsi"

TV critic Telesiyej then goes on to quote columnists that praised Tarkan in the past week, such as Ertuğrul Özkök (proclaiming the return of the romantic boy in his Sunday column), gay correspondent Oray Eğin (declaring it the summer of Tarkan), Cengiz Semercioğlu (explaining that the track was just a teaser of better things to come) and Ayşe Özyılmazel (talking of the excitement the song has generated in Turkey).

The TV critic then went on to write: "In my opinion, I don't think the American arm of Pepsi Cola would have made this mistake in their own country; I don't think the French and Italian branches would either ... aside from Pepsi Cola Türkiye's baseless fears, I think it stems from it perceiving its consumers, foremost the youth of this country, as just customers. For in fact, if there is a Pepsi following in this country ... then some of the principles they would see themselves as defending would be Tarkan.

"Pepsi Cola Türkiye, in the name of [seeing to be on the side of] public morals made a hasty decision; couldn't wholly comprehend that Tarkan would be this summer's phenomenon with his latest album; and shook hands with a TV actor that would be unable to add anything to their brand name ... It showed a distinct lack of vision. They couldn't foresee that Tarkan's fans would support him completely.

"These sorts of things happen in our country."

"How Dare You Write This!"

In response to the Telesiyej article, outraged Sabah correspondent Mevlüt Tezel has snapped back at what he sees the cheek of anyone that could dare to write such an account in his country.

Tezel had previously criticised Tarkan's track mistakenly thinking the artist had penned a dig at the drug stories in the press, when in actuality the song had been written two years ago by late lyricist Aysel Gürel.

Tezel writes in his 21 May dated article: "Yes, dear reader, finally this has happened, too. A columnist has accused Pepsi of making a mistake and not being forward-thinking by cancelling their sponsor deal with Tarkan who was taken into police custody after an anti-drug sting.

"What really amazes me is that this writer is the quick witted Taraf's TV critic 'Telesiyej' whose column I love to follow..."

Tezel then goes on to outline Telesiyej's article, before expressing, that "at first glance doesn't it read like an article we should applaud [the critic] for? Of course not! It's because of the clever writing you can't tell [what he is really saying]. What is the opposite of the argument put forward by 'Telesiyej'? That Tarkan was taken into custody following a drug bust... In the entire album there isn't even one word about that; he is trying to subconsciously portray Tarkan as a symbol of innocence to his reader."

"Doesn't He Read the Papers?"

Tezel moves on to summarise the latest development reported by the Turkish press on Tarkan's case, although he ignores all the fabricated reports about the case that have also been circulated throughout the legal process, denying Tarkan due process in law when an accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Nevertheless, Tezel fumes: "'Telesiyej' probably doesn't read the daily papers... There's been some important developments in the drug operation case that Tarkan was taken into custody for."

Explaining that Tarkan's file had been submitted to a serious crimes court to be tried together with other the accused as part of a drugs ring, Tezel wonders in his piece how Telesiyej managed to overlook this important point.

"This article doesn't mean much else than succumbing to an ego that says 'I told you so'. What's worse, the main theme running through [the TV critic's] article roughly is that it's okay for celebrities to use drugs, the public will forget about it anyway. And that Pepsi's decision to cancel the sponsorship deal was a baseless fear... We're talking about a huge world brand that focuses on the youth for goodness sake! Not lemonade sold at a stand! Why should such an important brand ignore Tarkan being tried for drugs? Should we list the world celebrities who have had their contracts cancelled by their sponsors because of their drug use?

"No, just one example is enough. Remember Michael Phelps, the guy who wrote history by winning 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics... After he was seen using drugs at a party he was dropped by numerous sponsors. Take note! Phelps' deals weren't cancelled because drugs were found at his house or for being tried as part of a drug gang. He was just spotted losing his head at a party!

"Just imagine if Pepsi Cola had listened to 'Telesiyej' and not cancelled Tarkan's contract. Pepsi in America would immediately have heads rolling in its Turkish PR branch. Or think of it this way: Tarkan is handed a prison sentence while his TV adverts are showing on air!

"Really 'Telesiyej', how can you write such an article!"

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