Launched in 2011, the Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS) Awards have evolved from a strictly advertising occasion to an established calendar event backed by solid sponsorships that go beyond attracting the luminaries of only the advertising and marketing industry. Along the way it has become a credible platform to showcase the best the industry has to offer. The progress has been the result of improvements in judging methodologies, greater willingness by brands to share campaign data and results, and to some extent better advertising. As a result, since 2011, entry submissions have gone up by over 200% (from 98 in 2011 to 296 in 2016).
This progress largely explains why this year, the PAS launched a campaign called #MyWarFace aimed at further encouraging industry participation. The campaign, which includes an online video, print ads and email shots, was launched in the first week of January. According to Qamar Abbas, Executive Director, PAS, “we want to take the PAS Awards to the next level, and one of the ways to do this is to encourage competition by getting more entries.”
Developed and executed by Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) Pakistan, the campaign is based on the theme of a battleground where each player (client or agency) gears up to face the competition head on, “aggressively inciting other players in the game to bring forward their best work.”
Commenting on the tone of the campaign, which, compared to previous communication by the PAS, is much more aggressive, Abbas says that “it is a competition and agencies and clients are in it to win. This is not the time to be humble about their achievements; encouraging competition benefits the industry.”
The campaign is based on the theme of a battleground where each player (client or agency) gears up to face the competition head on.
Instead of hiring models, PAS decided to make industry professionals the face of the campaign. Hence the presence of Fahd Ashraf (Director Marketing, Reckitt Benckiser), Fariyha Subhani (Director, Home and Personal Care, Unilever Pakistan), Muzakir Ijaz (GM, O&M), Naveed Asghar (CMO, HBL), Sadaf Zarrar (Head of IMC, Coca-Cola), Seema Jaffer (CEO, Bond Advertising), Salman Butt (Director Marketing, PepsiCo) and Zulfiqar Ansari (Head of Marketing, Tapal) among many others. According to Abbas, in making the selection, the criteria was to give more prominence to clients, who are the “backbone that funds and forms the ad industry,” apart from covering all major categories. Convincing such heavyweights to participate, Abbas says, was surprisingly easy.
“We knew the agencies would be up for it, as they are usually more relaxed about experimenting, yet we were pleasantly surprised when even heads of major companies not only agreed to participate in the campaign, they also pitched in their own ideas and feedback.”
Naved Qureshi, GM Karachi, O&M, adds that “we also wanted to break the stereotype of a ‘stiff’ CEO or MD, and although we had a rough storyboard, a lot of the actual shoot (done by Kohi Marri) was done impromptu.”
In this regard, he relates how Naveed Asghar was all pumped up about the shoot and even brought a boxing glove from his car to bring in aspects of his own personality to the campaign, and how Fariyha Subhani suggested putting ‘tribal’ marks on her face to add to the battleground theme.
Abbas says that apart from adding a level of authenticity and giving much-deserved limelight to industry professionals, part of the strategic motive was to boost the virality of the campaign. “When you see an industry person you know, it becomes a discussion point and you may even share the video.”
The plan is now to extend the theme of #MyWarFace to the social media campaign that will announce the Award categories, the jury panel and the short-listed nominees and then carry it through to the build up of the Awards themselves.
According to Abbas, an aspect that the campaign did not address (and one of the biggest challenges the PAS faces) is the fact that most agencies still do not adhere to the submission rules and often enter “sub-standard written case studies,” which often results in the disqualification of the entry. Rather than addressing this in the campaign, PAS will conduct in-person sessions and workshops to guide participants on following the correct submission methodology. “We did not want to bombard the #MyWarFace communication with too many messages; the single core objective here was to attract more entries.”
When it comes to an award ceremony that advocates the effectiveness and measurability of campaigns, there are two main measurement parameters. The first is the number of entries received and the second is the level of talkability and awareness generated. However, as Abbas says, the number of entries also depends on how much advertising a particular year has rolled out.
Commenting on the awareness generated by #MyWarFace, Abbas confirms that “on Facebook alone, the campaign had a total reach of approximately 45,361 and was shared by around 28 people. ”
Abbas hopes to enter the campaign in international award ceremonies, such as Cannes Lions, Effies and Spikes. “It would be a huge boost for the Awards, adding to the credibility and also motivating the PAS Awards’ organising team.”