Once upon a time public opinion created iconic stars and big brands added the cherry on the top of their cake of fame by selecting them as brand ambassadors. Lux has been defined by the personalities of the celebrities who become its brand ambassadors. In the past, Lux girls have been larger than life icons. Former Lux girls such as Iman Ali, Vaneeza Ahmed, Babra Sharif and Reema were extremely popular actors and models who exuded a sense of beauty and confidence. When it came to beauty, glamour, popularity and power they were role models that Pakistani girls could aspire to.
This changed earlier this year, when the beauty soap revealed its new Lux girls: Mahira Khan, Mawra Hocane and Maya Ali…and plenty of people were left scratching their heads over the choice of the last two. Historically, Lux girls have radiated stage presence and star value as well as an established celebrity status. For now, Hocane and Ali lack both.
To be fair, these two girls are promising and climbing the ladder of success. But they have a long way to go. More alarming is the fact that there are other more worthy stars on the ladder to success.
Khan is definitely stealing their thunder. All of Pakistan is familiar with her career trajectory. She shot to superstardom as the widely-loved Khirad in Humsafar and went on to prove her mettle in Bollywood with none other than Shah Rukh Khan.
Compare this to Hocane who may have bagged a few choice roles on the small screen, but is yet to display any real screen presence or make a big impression in the film industry. She did the lead role in a Bollywood venture last year, but can anyone remember the film or the hero’s name without a Google search? The only memorable thing about the venture is the headache induced by the convoluted storyline. Ali too has not quite transitioned to the big screen yet nor has she played any strong or memorable roles on TV.
Speaking of the choice of Ali and Hocane, Unilever’s Marketing Director, Raheel Pasha, says: “as per its refreshed positioning, Lux is not confined by any stereotype of fame or flair. The brand is personified by iconic legends and promising stars alike. A Lux girl is as Mahira as she is Maya, or Mawra… or our superstar Reema. A Lux girl is spirited, alluring, glamorous and iconic. Yet she is more than a pretty face. She has more than a defined role. She is multi-dimensional. In short, she is more than what meets the eye.”
Nevertheless, I would still wager that it would have been easier to understand the choice of Ali and Hocane if no established stars were present. Did no one consider Saba Qamar as a star worthy of the Lux title? Qamar is an extremely familiar face to Pakistanis. Not only is she beautiful and glamorous, she is extremely talented and has been proving it over and over again on the big and small screens. She also managed to make an impact and fill up the house with her Bollywood debut in Hindi Medium opposite Irrfan Khan. To top it all, she has oodles of stage presence. And if this was not enough, she is currently portraying murdered YouTuber Qandeel Baloch in a biopic on her life. Beauty, tick. Glamour, tick. Talent, tick. Star power, tick. And the ability to take on challenges… tick, tick, tick!
Another more established star who would make a worthy Lux girl is Ayeza Khan. She is widely admired by Pakistani women for her beauty and has proved her talent through TV serials such as Pyarey Afzal, for which she won a Lux Style Award for Best Actress in 2015.
Social media popularity has also been cited as one of the factors for the selection of the two starlets who are now the face of Lux. Just for the record, at the time of writing, Mahira Khan’s Facebook likes stand at 3,241,715, Hocane’s likes are at 1,333,702 on her verified account and Ali does not have a verified account on the social media site. On the contrary, at a whopping 7,697,017 Facebook likes on her verified account, Ayeza Khan eats up all of the above likes (yup she’s a bigger social media star than Mahira Khan!) and still stays ahead.
Mehwish Hayat was another potential aspirant for the face of Lux. She is very recognisable and has plenty of oomph, as is evident from her appearances on the big screen.
Which brings us back to the original question. With so many other more deserving and established celebrities on the higher rungs of the ladder of fame, why pick Hocane and Ali in 2017? They would have been more worthy of the title five years down the road. What happened, Lux?
Shahrezad Samiuddin is a screenwriter and a pop culture junkie. firstname.lastname@example.org