Ever since I stepped away from conventional advertising, there is a bit of initial guilt and hesitation when writing reviews like the one I am getting into. Does my opinion still matter? Do I still have what it takes to actually review an ad? Am I still an authority? But then I realise I now have a particular edge over this review business. I have the liberty of looking at ads with the scrutiny of someone who has ‘been there’ while also giving it the no-brainer ‘what you see is what you get’ laid back attention of a regular consumer. I don’t have the time to take a film apart because my day job doesn’t depend on it. And I feel like that is the perfect balance, because I can set aside the competitive pettiness (we all know it’s there) of being an ad person reviewing someone else’s work and can look at ads for what they are; good, bad, cringe worthy or effective.
Campaign: Old School vs New Cool
Message: If you don’t drink coffee, you’re lame AF.
Effectiveness: Nescafé has its eye on the prize and it’s in it to win it. By prize I mean the majority of hot beverage drinkers in Pakistan: a majority that currently drinks chai; chai the enemy. So I won’t hesitate in admitting that this was a brave approach. And in 2017, if you are not going to go big, you may as well go home. Although the ad is effectively taking tea drinkers by the shoulders and making them acknowledge the existence of coffee as a legitimate pick me up, I wish it wasn’t at the cost of shaming chai drinkers. Of which I am one. Oh snap!
Verdict: Still drinking chai and sniffing coffee. Try again.
Campaign: Only Oreo
Message: No matter where you are, eating an Oreo is a bonding experience.
Effectiveness: This one is a cutie. The ad, I mean. OK fine, the models too. The film starts with a fun exchange between a father and son where no words are required. The son won an award and dad is impressed. Neither is particularly surprised. They both seem to know they are great. They celebrate by indulging in an Oreo. But it is a ritual and it must be done right. And they do it right – twist, lick, dunk. And eat. The ice breaks when dad messes up the eat part and we see them relax and share a laugh leading into the reveal. Dad is out of town and thanks to technology, they can still maintain their ritual regardless of where they are. Endearing, relevant and simple.
Verdict: It’s a feel good film and really doesn’t require much analysis. I liked it.
Campaign: Cricket TVC 2017– Passion of millions
Message: Cricket is our way of life.
Effectiveness: I watched this ad and realised Pakistani advertising is stuck in a ‘can’t win if you do, can’t win if you don’t’ situation. We will watch great ‘international’ (read: across the LOC) films and tsk tsk our way criticising local commercials about how they can never live up. Why can’t we make stuff like they do? They use local insights and daily nuances. Why don’t we? Then a brand comes up with a fun film like this one and while everyone, yes you too, enjoyed it and then we will all sit back and say it is ‘so Indian’. Bhai, so what if it is? Did it convey the message? Yes! Did you enjoy it? Yes! Did you see a sari-clad woman or a swami walking on the sidewalk? No? Then it is local and relevant and it works and you need to sit down.
Verdict: It’s like those Indian ads I have always liked. And I’m fine with that as long as it serves the purpose!
Campaign: DC Invertor AC
Message: There are easier ways to land yourself in hot water.
Effectiveness: No, I’m not writing about this because it has Bollywood actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui in it; an actor whom I am a fan of and whose acting chops are unquestionable. I’m writing about this because, like many of Kenwood’s films before, it is genuinely an entertaining piece of communication which smartly shows you a scenario where the product could serve as a better option to what the subject is experiencing. The script is entertaining and crisp and I will go out on a limb and say it would have been just as entertaining without the ‘star’ cast. Not complaining though.
Verdict: Keep doing Kenwood; sweet, simple, focused. Don’t ever change!
BRAND: UC Browser
Campaign: Fastest Download
Message: Umm… fastest downloads are through UC Browser.
Effectiveness: I won’t lie. I watched and rewatched this film because Mahwish Hayat looks badass and even I got irritated when the film wouldn’t buffer for the kids. Like, HURRY UP we need to know where the bomb is! But that aside, the concept is fun and straightforward, with my favourite part being that the superhero kicking butt is a woman. She is not a damsel in distress. She is the hero who will save mankind from the bomb that the bald dude hid under the bridge. Yup, I was paying attention. See how effective that ad was?
Verdict: Mehwish Hayat is no longer a sar dard for me! She is the hero of this film in every way.
Khizra Munir is CEO, CoPakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org