I have been working in advertising for almost four years now. After spending a very short, but super productive time at my first agency, I branched out on my own. Considered by some to be overly-ambitious, with many wondering ‘what the heck is she thinking,’ my main reason for opening my own agency, albeit at a miniscule level, was my need and desire to change the way it’s done. Or at least try.
My experience in churning out fresh, fun concepts for campaigns was basically having most of them shot down in favour of settling for something that was generic and safe enough to be approved by all. To me a good campaign idea consists of three elements. One, a brilliant never-been-done-before idea; two, aesthetic design and a clever one too; three, the risk factor.
Advertising gets my adrenaline pumping when done right; when something works it makes me really proud and happy. So when I was asked to write for ‘campaign watch’ I was stumped. It is difficult to be objective when barely any campaign(s) get(s) my heart pumping with inspiration.
For the most part, advertising in Pakistan has become a blur for me, mainly because agencies and clients have assumed that consumers are morons. When I see a campaign, I know immediately how much the brains behind it actually believed in the product or service they are selling. The questions that arise are, did they try the product? Did they see what their competitors (both locally and internationally) do? Did they ask people what makes them choose a particular product? Did they brainstorm to see how they can wow the consumer? Having said this, I understand that creatives have absolutely no freedom on the final campaign! We all love our clients, but they really need to let creatives do their job.
I drove around looking at one mundane campaign after another, plastered all over like an advertising hall of shame.
I liked some because of the good, clean design, but mostly because I had to say something nice. The rest, well you can read what I think below.
Campaign: Shape up Pakistan
Message: Drink Skimillac and miraculously change your health/life/country.
Effectiveness: I like the fact that they used a double meaning, asking Pakistan to shape up, physically and otherwise. Puns are always fun! I also liked the Karachi customised version ‘shape up Karachi’. I always appreciate when extra thought goes into an idea and this one hit the nail on the head. The design is clean, aesthetic and vibrant, although I am not a fan of young people jumping with ‘excitement’ but somehow this campaign stands out from the crowd.
Verdict: Simple, straightforward and current. Brightly lit, thus great visibility at night too. Love the colour palette.
Campaign: Halki phulki bhook mein halka phulka Tuc
Message: The instant solution to hunger pangs.
Effectiveness: I am a big fan of the ongoing Tuc campaign. I love the memorable jingle and the very relatable slice of life concepts. However, I like the campaign because of the TVC, the billboard does not do much for me as it’s just the couple featured and if one has not seen the TVC, people are going to think ‘ok… so good looking couple + product + tagline, so what?’ I think the light husband-wife rivalry should have been brought to the fore, perhaps in the design. Overall it’s a great campaign, great design and fun.
Verdict: Gets the message across, especially because they are focusing on everyday light-hearted dramas. However, I still prefer the Mahira Khan version.
Campaign: We’ve broken the cycle of hair problems
Message: Less hair fall, smoother and stronger hair.
Effectiveness: I definitely give Pantene a one up over the campaigns of its rivals, but only because they have plastered billboards all over Karachi. However, when I see celebrities endorsing shiny, healthy hair, I find it less than believable. I think Dove said it better ‘100 to 2’ while Pantene spins us a fairytale and fairytales are the reason why therapists exist. The campaign is nothing short of spectacular; clean design, celebrities and major visibility, but creativity? Sorry, I just don’t see it.
Verdict: Another tall claim by another hair care brand. We get it. We just don’t believe it.
Campaign: Introducing germi check
Message: Jaraseem se larne mein dugna taqatwar.
Effectiveness: Throw in Shahrukh Khan, a clean and focused design, a cute kid and you have success! It’s fun, it’s playful and I’m kinda loving the slice of life aspect. Very relatable. However, if we replaced the product with any other toothpaste brand, it would work too. Where is the USP?
Verdict: I like it. Subtle, straightforward and aesthetically pleasing. I like the fact that thanks to the lighting at night, the focus is taken off Shahrukh Khan in favour of better product and caption visibility. Otherwise, it is just another toothpaste claiming to be the best of the best of the best.
Campaign: Specialty coffee
Message: Five flavours of delicious coffee – ‘Now that’s coffee’.
Effectiveness: No it’s not. Since when is McDonald’s known for coffee? And specialty coffee at that? Is it merging with Dunkin’ Donuts? Or Espresso? I don’t buy it. (Literally!) Having said this, the design is nice and clean as per all McDonald’s advertising and the products are beautifully photographed… maybe a bit too beautifully?
Verdict: It gets the message across. But I would like a campaign with an extra shot of creativity, no milk, no sugar.
Sarah Jahangir is Entrepreneur & Creative Director, CTL360. firstname.lastname@example.org