For most people, Ramazan slows down the pace of life. The working days are shorter and generally the month is about cleansing mind, body and spirit. The world of advertising, however, knows no such thing. Work intensifies in the weeks leading up to Ramazan as clients gear up to ready their seasonal campaigns.
Ramazan is to Pakistan what the Super Bowl is to the US. Costs per spot skyrocket and everyone tries their hardest to put their best foot forward and make sure theirs is the most emotionally moving campaign; the one that truly ‘captures the spirit of Ramazan’.
Everyone is on a quest to create the great ad which will make us hear voices sing from the heavens. We all love to talk about ‘good advertising’. Everyone does. Agency people, clients in boardrooms and digital peeps at chai stations. But what is ‘good advertising’? Is ‘good advertising’ effective? Or is only effective advertising ‘good’?
Just as with the Super Bowl, a lot of brands use the month of Ramazan to relaunch. Traditionally, this has been limited to brands in the food and beverage category, but this year we have seen a few technology brands jump into the mix. As I write this, it’s way too early for brands to ascertain the effectiveness of their Ramazan or relaunch campaigns, but here’s a quick review anyway...
Message: Product shots that will make you wish you weren’t fasting.
Effectiveness: Yes, yes, yes. Three times makes it legal, right? The visual treat that is this TVC is undeniable. It is so beautifully single-minded in its glorification of food that it needs no accompanying VO, no explanation of why the milk is pure, why the ingredients are organic and why this will lead to increased bone density and enhanced brain power. With a perfect musical accompaniment, this TVC takes us back to the basics – and it is amazing that it took Nurpur to break the category code and stir it up some. It is bold. The relaunch, timed perfectly with Ramazan, has created a buzz in the market. Verdict: Would it make me switch from my current preference? I’m tempted to try.
BRAND: Surf Excel
Campaign: Madad aik ibadat
Message: Helping others is also an act of faith.
Effectiveness: Not often does a concept so beautifully marry the brand essence with the spirit of Ramazan. This TVC seemed to have given Kim Kardashian a run for her money in terms of digital reaction. We can all agree that no one does performance and music composition better than India, and a well deserved pat on their backs for making this communication more than just about the pakoras, samosas, chaat and jalebis. To be able to highlight the real spirit of Ramazan – very often overlooked not only in our advertising, but in our own lives – is an important message to impart, and not only to our kids. Compassion and empathy for those around us is missing, and it is time more brands picked up the mantle to reinforce basic values. Well done, Surf Excel.
Verdict: Although I may not eat a samosa off someone’s kurta, my heart did sing.
Campaign: A New Dream. Zong 4G
Message: If you ride into the desert on camels and beat drums something will happen.
Effectiveness: Yes, something will happen. Maybe there is a link to good connectivity deep in the desert? I’m really going out on a limb here. This relaunch communication is as effective as using a Chinese fan to keep a polar bear cold in Karachi’s heat. Lacking any kind of positioning, perhaps they felt that using foreign unknown talent, beating drums and a Chinese gong would fool us into not needing any real information? Let’s hope someone got a killer tan during the shoot so that it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
Verdict: Great casting on the camels. They were the best looking camels I have seen. Makes me want to go and feed our starving Sea View camels.
BRAND: Nestlé Milkpak
Campaign: Spirit of Ramazan
Message: The midnight Milkpak man will bring you a world of happiness.
Effectiveness: Effective in confusing the life out of me. Is it better to give in Ramazan wearing an invisibility cloak? Is this boy a night crusader like Daredevil and a little bit of Wee Willie Winkie thrown in? I appreciate that there is some attempt to hint at the spirit of giving, but the accompanying VO overtalks the khaalis rishtay bit. If he is going to ring the bell and run away he is not really sticking around to form any pure relationships. He is just one of those annoying neighbourhood kids who ends up leaving a sack of milk that glows in the dark.
Verdict: Lose the murder mystery feel, and thora aur bright karain please.
Campaign: Iss Eid Har Rang Apna
Message: Women should be neither seen, nor heard.
Effectiveness: Apparently as long as the ad has headless women and no music, it is allowed. Why not just do a product ad without any human element at all? Otherwise according to this depiction, Eid is only about men and children celebrating. It boggles the mind, truly. And oh yes, it is truly effective. Effective in... hmmmmm. Yeah, okay.
Verdict: The less said the better. Definitely no heart singing; it is not allowed.
Sara Koraishy is General Manager, JWT Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org