Who Will Brand Pakistan?
I have enjoyed reading Yasir Pirzada‘s column whenever I got a chance because “you” comes in the middle of the week which means a roller coaster ride for me. Being a working mom of four kids, working days pass by without giving me moment of respite. I would like share his ‘Branded Pakistan’ with you …. I could not stop laughing at his narration of some of the ads.
On a serious note, Mr Yasir! in a country of 170 million people only Faisal Qureshi and a few others, who can be counted on fingers make creative and interesting ads. Rest of the ads are either copied, bought or look like poor female modelling photoshoots! If nobody knows how creative advertising can be then who will build, market and brand Pakistan. Ah…Our beautiful and beloved Pakistan!
by Yasir Pirzada
Let me share a ‘serious’ joke at the very outset. When a guy meets a woman and tells her ‘I am a great lover’, that is called marketing. When somebody else tells the woman about that man ‘trust me, he is a great lover’, that is called public relations. When the guy himself repeatedly tells the woman ‘I am a great lover, I am a great lover…’ that would be called advertising. But when the woman herself says ‘I understand you are a great lover’, that would be called branding!
Branding is a serious business and so is advertising. But unfortunately, the concept of advertising in Pakistan, like many other concepts, is not the same as it is in other countries. We make simple advertisements for the simple reason that we can’t make them creative. And branding, for sure, is not our cup of tea. Obviously, I am not talking about a few multinational companies who are very particular about branding. My concern is those types of ads, which, in the first place, are run on cable TV; and secondly, those non-stop repetitive programmes which are actually paid advertisements. However, if I were to choose between these two, I would go for cable TV Commercials (TVCs), at least they are humorous.
The best thing about cable TVCs is that they are cheap (means monetarily) plus they are hilarious. One of my favourite these days is TVC of a ‘Rent a Car’ company. It is simply unbeatable. The ad opens with a glimpse of vehicles decorated with flowers claiming it to be the largest network of rented cars in Pakistan. Then suddenly a family is shown coming out of a rickshaw; as soon as they step out of the rickshaw, the driver grabs the man for some unknown reason and then the lady (presumably man’s wife) interferes and tells the rickshaw driver to be ashamed of himself for being abusive to his ‘father-in-law’ (at least that’s what I have understood). Then a heavy weight model (seeing is believing) with straight hair, chips in and says ‘phone malayein (not milayein) aur gari mangayein!’ Then glimpses of the proprietor as well as his brothers and kids are shown who are smiling while looking at the camera (don’t know why) and then it is told that the proprietor is also the president of some kind of association. After that the scene changes and another family, this time a pretty decent couple, is shown with three kids. Wife is clad in a saree, who, after seeing a chauffer driven car, expresses her satisfaction to the husband and jumps into the car hurriedly. Then again, our heavy weight model comes in and says ‘safar key matabuq (not mutabiq) paisey manasub!’ Now I can’t narrate the remaining advertisement because I want you to watch it yourself and enjoy. This ad is only aired on TV in Lahore but because of its immense popularity now you can also search it on YouTube and many have even shared it on Facebook! Hats off to its director!
As far as long and repetitive paid programmes are concerned, I think these have proved to be beneficial only for the retired or flop film stars. An actor like Jackie Sheroff can be seen nowadays in one of such advts, marketing ‘joint pain medicines’. Similarly, Bhagia Shree, heroine of super doper hit ‘Meiney Pyar Kia’ is selling hair oil these days. The most annoying thing about these ads is their monotonous tone. I don’t know exactly how successful this marketing strategy is but I am sure these ads certainly attract people and that’s why these have been on air for such a long time.
Apart from these two categories of ads, there are certain ads which I simply hate to watch. One of them is a ‘cleaning toilet challenge’… and what a challenge that is! One of our TV stars is shown in the ad throwing a challenge to a group of housewives as to who can clean the toilet in a better way! Certainly our hero wins the ‘challenge’ and he proudly announces it at the end.
And lastly, I wish someone would come up with an advertisement that portrays a positive image of our country. We need it badly for our country. An ad that would brand our country in a way like a multinational brand its product successfully. If a multinational can do it for its ordinary products, why can’t it be done for a vibrant country like Pakistan! So let’s start building a ‘Branded Pakistan’.
The writer is a columnist, TV anchor and playwright and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org