In Pakistan, there are five seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Lawn. For many people, lawn season is that time of the year when, just like you dread load-shedding in summer and gas-shedding in winter, you can’t wait for life to be discovered on another planet (and, of course, for there to be affordable inter-planetary travel). For others, it’s like chaand raat… only better.
If you’re here to learn something new and revolutionary about horticulture and landscaping, we advise you to leave this page. The subject of this article is a fabric that is insanely popular in the Sub-Continent, especially at this time of the year.
Over the last couple of years, lawn season has been synonymous with mass hysteria among women. More recently, lawn season has resulted in a surge of viral videos showing just how far some women are willing to go for a piece of clothing (case in point: The Sapphire lawn stampede). The videos, which were initially amusing, quickly became a source of second-hand embarrassment. After all, seeing your mothers and sisters recreate a scene from World War Z is not a pleasant experience. However, this year has been different. Fortunately, this lawn season is making waves for the right reasons.
Shaking things up
One of the first signs foreshadowing the impending lawn season are the billboards and banners – hundreds and thousands of them – plastered all over the country. While that remains unchanged, this year, two giants in the lawn ‘scene’, decided to shake things up and forego the run-of-the-mill photo shoots quintessential of the lawn billboard culture. The brands in question are Nishat Linen and Gul Ahmed, two veterans in the lawn industry, who, with their current marketing campaigns, are showing the rookies how it’s done.
Let’s talk about Nishat Linen first. For its NL You line, Nishat seems to have wanted to accurately represent its target audience – the youth. They wanted their campaign to reflect the spirit of young, Pakistani girls who are fun, independent and fashion-forward; they wanted to create something that was real and relatable.
Something about the girls in the campaign feels fun and genuine. Maybe it’s their smiles; maybe it’s the fact that while they are beautiful, they don’t look like cookie-cutter models. If there’s a tall girl in the mix, there’s a short one too; if there’s a girl wearing sleeveless, the one right next to her is in a burqa. It proves that you don’t have to look a certain way or wear a certain thing to be considered worthy of being featured on a nationwide campaign. All the girls in the campaign may not be recognisable, but they are all important and worthy in their own right.
There’s a motorbike enthusiast, who has explored Northern Pakistan on her bike (Zenith Irfan), an aspiring model (Rehmat Ajmal), an illustrator from Peshawar (Saheefa Jabbar Khattak), a head-scarf designer (Mahoor Jamal), virtual artists (Alina Tauseef and Samiha Khan) and so many other girls, who may not be fashion models, but are role models in some way or the other. For the target audience, these girls are either just like them, or like someone they can aspire to be.
The next marketing campaign, while not featuring relatable girls, contains a message that is exactly what young women in our society need. Gul Ahmed’s latest marketing campaign, bearing the slogan ‘#MeinPerfectHoon’ (‘I am perfect’), is a commendable marketing effort that aims at empowering the target audience. The campaign, featuring the model Amna Ilyas, and actors Anam Fayyaz, Minal Khan and Noor Khan, advocates body positivity, and the importance of embracing one’s imperfections. The TVC, directed by Adcom Leo Burnett, has each woman proudly embrace her shortcomings; be it her dusky complexion, her unruly curls, a mole, or a crooked nose. Taking pride in their imperfections, they treat them as an asset, rather than a liability.
Not only in Pakistan, society in general holds women up to unrealistic standards of beauty; being fair, having certain features, having a certain height, being a certain size etcetera. The subject matter, while controversial, needs to be addressed so that we can start having a progressive conversation about women in our society, and that’s exactly what Gul Ahmed has done – get the conversation started. Body positivity is not about undermining the beauty in being fair, or slim, or having exotic features; it is about understanding that you can be beautiful in spite of those things. It is about beauty being skin deep.
Start of something new
Of course, this isn’t the first time that local clothing brands have tried to reinvent the wheel with their marketing campaigns. Even this time around, Nishat and Gul Ahmed aren’t the only ones that tried to do something different. Al-Karam, for example, has also tried to push a message of positivity through its latest campaign, but there seems to be something lacking in the effort
Young Pakistani women, especially the Millennials, while impressionable, are driven and ambitious. Those with a good head on their shoulders, education and values are no longer influenced by “just another lawn photo shoot”. In a sea of billboard madness, when they spot a campaign that strikes a chord with them, it becomes memorable. For a brand that’s aimed at an audience that has a fleeting interest in billboards, becoming even slightly memorable is a massive feat. One can only hope that this is the start of something new – a more positive representation of women in local marketing campaigns. What marketers can take away from campaigns like these is that while it is important to make the product look good, making the audience feel good goes a long way too.
In the heat of the summer, these powerful marketing campaigns gave us exactly what we needed – something refreshing. Kudos to Nishat and Gul Ahmed for absolutely nailing it. This year, they gave women more than just a variety of clothes; they gave them importance.