Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Five 'must-watch' Ramzan ads

Updated Jun 21, 2017 10:18am
Ah, Ramzan! A season for soul searching and reflection, right? That is unless you turn on the TV.

On our screens, Ramzan is Christmas, Easter, Eid and Hanukkah all rolled into one. There is an endless stream of game and cooking shows, and advertisements, the likes of which are never seen during the remaining 11 months.

As in every year, before we enter the third ashra of Ramzan, this is a good time to tell it like it is to Ramzan ad campaign designers, before we turn our attentions back to… well, er… prayer, supplication and soul searching!

1) QMobile: Zamana Hum say Hay

You know, I can stop right here and be done: QMobile has achieved the impossible. In a two-minute ad, they have managed to cram every possible cliché ever used by the Pakistani ad industry. Azan-like sounds merging into semi classical alap, sung by (most probably) Rahat Fateh Ali. Check. A teary eyed soldier receives a photo of his newly born child on his mobile? Check. Lavish Eid feast with a cute pauper staring from the sidelines? Tearful mother Skyping her son? Father and son offering prayers in the Badshahi Mosque (all alone)? Boxer doing push ups, later knocking out opponent? Engineer mending tube-wells in the desert, bringing water, and tears (don’t forget the tears) to the villagers? Village kids studying under a tree? Urban youth splashing about in an open-top jeep along the coastline (with the setting sun as backdrop)? Turbaned men celebrating something they heard about on the phone? Executive, housewife, cart driver, all checking their phones for some reason? A group of young people restoring a mosque and – wait for it – here comes the Azan again! All present and correct. Wait, there is more. Of course, there is Fawad Khan – how could he not be! And of course, he is standing under the Minar-e-Pakistan. Shots of ethnic dances interspersed with pilgrims in the newly restored masjid, interspersed with dancing women and hugging soldiers, all topped off with a giant flag. Hey, what’s that? No, the ad hasn’t ended. Here is the QMobile customer service centre and the lady at the counter accepting the phone like they always do at real centres – as if they are looking at a phone for the first time! Do I need to say more. If this description bored you, try to sit through this:

Were it not for the QMobile logo at the top left, it could have been a TVC for any company; a telecom company, a bank, an insurance company or an airline. The brief, it seems was simple - cram every ad ever into this one. Done? No way... also show our service centre. It may not seem like it, but words fail me. I’ll stop here.

2) ARY Ramzan transmission

In Hollywood, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hulk and many others save the world every year as The Avengers. However, they can’t hold a candle to Ramzan extravaganza – excuse me, transmission. Witness:

To be honest, I don’t know what irks me about this promo. Maybe it is the implication (year after year) that people in rural areas live miserable lives and need the intervention of ARY’s hosts to see the light. Maybe it is the smug expressions on their faces. Maybe it is the exploiting of the passing away of Junaid Jamshed. Maybe it is the fact that none of the good deeds shown are more than an act to sell airtime. The promo opens with Waseem Badami landing presumably in Gilgit-Baltistan while Faisal Qureshi has iftar in a mosque with a few scholars. Meanwhile, Iqrarul Hasan spies a child throwing stones in a river – and spins his magic wand.

Then Waseem sees a hawker in a wheelchair and reacts with all the practiced empathy of seeing a caged animal.

Both men take it upon themselves to be fairy godmothers. Nida Yasir, meanwhile, does her signature move of breaking into a rural household and expressing child delight of visiting a museum. Lala gets in on the act too. It is all so shallow and superfluous it defeats the purpose of being grateful for what one has. It would have been better had ARY capitalised on their partnership with the Shahid Afridi foundation and actually carried out some welfare work. This way of patronising a large section of our population leaves a bad taste which no lavish iftari can fix.

3) Coke and Pepsi – making use of the bottles

Pepsi continues its Litre of Light campaign, lighting up rural areas using Pepsi bottles and solar panels. Meanwhile, Coke has teamed up with the Edhi Foundation for its bottle of change campaign, leading to a donation drive. Both campaigns are powerful and interesting as in to how they focus on the bottles.

Most importantly, both campaigns achieve something tangible by capitalising on the spirit of generosity that comes with Ramzan – as well as the natural propensity for soft drink consumption. Even if they are cynical marketing ploys, they are less so than the two mentioned previously. Kudos.

4) Mitchell’s Jam-e-Hayat

Nothing connects Pakistan during Ramzan better than lal sharbat. It is the one thing people from all walks of life can get behind. It is safe to say that this market segment is ruled by Hamdard’s Rooh Afza and Qarshi Jam-e-Shireen. Every now and then, everyone from Shezan to Tang have tried their hand at this but failed to crack the code. Enter Mitchell:

The brand decided to take the game to the big players. The ad is careful to tick every box; the housewife, the cricketer, the bubbly friends, the (inexplicable) pairing of the sharbat with dessert, the grand family iftar (which in the tradition of our ads is made to look like a valima.) Meanwhile the voiceover is similar to those used by Hamdard in their ads. All the bases are covered – which is why this TVC doesn’t stand out at all.

5) Sprite - forging alliances

Sprite know how to stay in the news. Their campaigns are brash, loud and attention grabbing. Lately the brand was mired in a controversy over featuring a Shehzad Roy song in one of its ads. No worries. Coming up with a new campaign on a dime is seemingly their forte; so for Ramzan, they came up with these:

In a win-win branding coup, their major campaign is Sprite+Rooh Afza, capitalising on our love of the lal sharbat and providing a hip and demographically different brand exposure to Rooh Afza. And though I have yet to try the combo, it sure looks enticing!