When I was asked to write for Campaign Watch, I was a little emotional. The opportunity to criticise the work of my peers in the nation’s foremost advertising publication is quite a rite of passage. Only a few years into the big bad world of Pakistani advertising, I am already all grown up. Nonchalant ad snobbery, here I come!
From this vantage point I am, however, not as disappointed as I thought I would be. The industry has a very strong one-up ethic. Everybody wants to go bigger and longer and in this chaos some even manage to achieve the elusive better.
Campaign: Har dining table
Message: Olper’s is always with you, hidden in plain sight.
Effectiveness: The undisputed king of one-uppers, Engro took a surprisingly wonderful route to promote Olper’s in 2015. Whilst the usual suspects of any Olper’s ad are present in the TVC, including unnecessary celebrity cameos, slice of life storyboarding, unrealistic handling of product SKUs and the ‘re-imagining classic song’ gimmick that is all the rage these days, the end result is a pleasant campaign where the big idea is effectively conveyed, not just the production values. The campaign puts the product in the same league as the ubiquitous dining table, which is both ambitious and humbling at the same time, making for a truly refreshing and light campaign with endless possibilities across all media. Tarang take note.
Verdict: Mogambo khush hua!
Campaign: Duur ho kar bhi paas rahain
Message: Physical presence is overrated.
Effectiveness: Telecom operators pump out so many ads that it is often difficult to classify what is a campaign and what is not. In my book, if the intended message sticks, it is better than all the song and dance sequences in the world. Telenor’s international direct dialling campaign has a deceptively simple and clear message conveyed via an all-too-familiar emotional route that resonates with people whose loved ones live oceans away. Full marks to the brand and the agency for empowering a no-frills big idea with a visually elegant solution. I would probably remove a few brand-centric frames at the start of the TVC and insert them at the end for added drama, but then again, I am probably just an armchair adman talking.
Verdict: Right in the feels!
BRAND: Samsung Grand Prime
Campaign: Selfies ban jaye ‘Grandfies’
Message: Best be prepared for your celebrity run-in.
Effectiveness: In the fiercely competitive handset market, brands have no choice but to pull out all the stops to be noticed. However, in this sea of poorly executed celebrity endorsements, Samsung Grand’s Fawad Khan starrer makes, by far, the most efficient use of a celebrity in a Pakistani ad campaign. Instead of building unrealistic scenarios (think Warid Mi-Fi or pretty much every Qmobile ad you have seen) I can imagine Fawad using this phone (with an iPhone of course). The product’s USP is clearly communicated with a relatable pain point which the target group (read Instagrammers) can identify with. The copy, although gimmicky is memorable. More importantly, it is hashtaggable.
Verdict: Very nice. But first, let me take a grandfie!
Campaign: Live it abhi
Message: Even 10 year-olds are smarter than our cricketers.
Effectiveness: I struggled to decide which World Cup campaign I would include here. Eventually, I settled for Pepsi because it elicits a stronger response from me. In fact, it makes my blood boil. I have already smashed one TV in a cliché moody-creative-loses-temper incident. Why Pepsi, must you always, consistently, without fail, go for the lowest hanging fruit? While I appreciate Pepsi’s association with real cricketers unlike the token former player featured by the competition, the campaign is just another page out of ‘The Big Blue Book of Predictable Pepsi Moments with Cricketers’. The setting, situation, acting, message, everything is just a big cop-out. You can do better, Pepsi.
Verdict: Unbelievable and not in a good way.
Campaign: 50 years of poultry excellence
Message: 50 years of taking ourselves way too seriously.
Effectiveness: It’s hard to believe that K&N’s (new kid on the formulaic-ad-factory block) is already 50 years old. You have to hand it to them though – eating a chicken nugget has never felt so patriotic or grandiose. With overproduced depth of field, scenes of natural landscapes and laboratory environments, a fluttering flag, a national song thrown in, copy that glorifies their business as a noble cause and a VO that would put Gandalf to shame, K&N’s is aiming straight for your heart. Too bad we have been sold the same angle by (insert brand here) (insert product category here) 10,000 times in the last 50 years already.
Verdict: Borrowed from a Facebook user: I feel like a nugget now.
Umair Kazi is a partner at Isheri. firstname.lastname@example.org