There once was a clothing brand called Leisure Club that seemed to exist in borderline oblivion in the digital world, until it rose like phoenix from the ashes and released a video so morally wholesome that it restored faith in socially responsible advertising. Called People of Pakistan, the video was rolled out on the brand’s Facebook page on April 26th and has since then garnered more than one million views, 14,000+ likes, and 24,845+ shares. The video inspired by TV2 – All That We Share, is dedicated “to the memory of Mashal Khan and other Pakistanis who left us too soon”.
Based on the ‘we are all the same’ concept, the video begins with the narrator stating that people are more susceptible to division than unity. People of Pakistan echoes the us versus them idea, which may have primarily been a colonial agenda but still follows us around like a dark cloud even after years of Independence. Although the topic may be as old as Methuselah, the video does a pretty decent job in breaking the clutter of those modernised fairytales advertisers these days are obsessed with and zooms into the stereotypes that cultivate hate between different groups living in the same country. The narrator covertly mocks the intra-group divide we have to struggle with almost every day and the intolerance some of us display towards whomever (God forbid!) is not our clone in ideology and thought.
Here’s the video:
The video places social rejects next to self-proclaimed elitists, the medical professionals next to the handicapped, liberals next to religious enthusiasts, burgers next to 'bun kebabs'. The point you ask? To visually highlight the absurdity of the divisive framework we operate in like pawns on a chessboard, but are too tired or hopeless to do anything about.
The highlight of the video for me was the unapologetic representation of the transgender community coupled with the mildly sarcastic narration ‘aur woh humaray se bilkul alag’. In an attempt to sell glamourised lifestyles and glossy images, advertising has strayed from reality, with little to no representation of those groups who deserve screen space as much as any other 'mainstream' group.
Although the video is not as visually stimulating as one would hope, it serves the purpose of putting up a mirror to the intolerant residing among us. The video endorses the fact that even though we dwell in imaginary segregation, we have much in common when it comes to the highs and lows of life (this is where the magic of the video lies). As the narrator calls out to people who love to laugh, take selfies, feel ticklish, felt ostracised at some point because of their beliefs, colour or lifestyle – anyone with an ounce of conscience realises the superficiality of these self-made differences and the strength of our commonalities. The video trivialises group differences by showing people from different groups coming forward to discover what they have in common with someone from another group. The message is that we have so much more to like about each other, even if we don’t belong to the same group.
Although the video isn’t hard-hitting enough to rattle and jolt us out of our blissful complacency, it does give us something to think about during our chai break. The advertising world is saturated with ads depicting a glamourised and rather desensitised version of contemporary life. Videos like People of Pakistan prove that Pakistani brands are not incapable of discussing issues that matter and can make or disrupt the fabric of our society. While I’m not sure if ads raising issues like desi feminism, treatment towards trans-genders, gender inequality are coming from a place of genuine concern or are an effort to cash on whatever is working on digital platforms, the optimist in me would still like to consider them as omens of good times!