Published in Sep-Oct 2017
Finally! The dark ages of advertising are coming to an end. One after another, Pakistani advertising agencies are producing award-winning, meaningful, socially-responsible and out-of-the-box campaigns. Is this because brands are losing effectiveness due to over branding and hard-selling, or is it the Ad Mad Dude’s pressure to learn something from Indian advertising or even perhaps the opening of a dozen design and media schools and the departure of old-school marketing and advertising techniques? Whatever the reasons, it is a fresh start and we should keep pushing our limits to make our work relevant. On this note, here is my critical analysis on some recent campaigns.
BRAND: PEL – Water Dispenser
Agency: Red Communications
Campaign: Change Your Life
Message: Thanda Ya Garam... Bas Aik Button.
Effectiveness: Storytelling at its best. Without being preachy or derogatory, the agency has made two cost-effective and light-hearted TVCs. You can see your favourite water cooler or bottle whining and cursing the PEL Water Dispenser in an informative yet humorous way. Given our power outage issues, the commercial doesn’t say how long the water will remain cold; nevertheless, it will attract audiences with its clutter-breaking concept.
Verdict: PEL has found its niche!
BRAND: Brite Maximum Power
Agency: Spectrum Y&R
Campaign: Har Dagh Key Peechay Ik Kahani Hoti Hai
Message: Powerful Brite say ab koi dagh bach kay dekhaey.
Effectiveness: In a country where the thought of ‘working women’ still sends shivers down more than half of Pakistan’s spine, Brite has gone for a fresh take on this perspective. In the past decade, we have witnessed an influx of women working in modern trade, superstores, restaurants, hotels and malls. This has surely helped many families to achieve a better lifestyle. But, given a mindset that has strict parameters about how a future bahu should be like, this campaign is a breath of fresh air. It is all about breaking from the norm, instilling a new thought about working women; showing them as intelligent human beings and erasing the typical drawing room rishta situation. And it achieved this without any loss of brand visibility.
Verdict: A great balance of brand promise and a powerful story.
BRAND: Blue Band
Agency: MullenLowe India, MullenLowe Rauf Pakistan
Message: Given that Blue Band’s focus is on children’s health, the campaign emphasises the need to pay attention to the development of their character.
Effectiveness: Prasoon Joshi in his recent article for The Economic Times rightfully wrote: “Today’s companies need to ensure that being socially responsible is part of the brand’s DNA.” The recent Blue Band campaign has lived up to the above suggestion. We have been seeing motivational video clips and commercials on social media for quite some time; for example, the Guinness Beer Wheelchair Basketball TVC or the TED Talk about Lizzie Velasquez. Yet, it never occurred to us that connecting a brand with a strong social message can help change societies. The concept is simple and leaves a deep message with minimal, yet solid branding.
Verdict: A great move!
BRAND: Gul Ahmed
Agency: Adcom Leo Burnett
Message: With all my imperfections (according to societal parameters), I am perfect!
Effectiveness: I have been a huge fan of United Colors of Benetton’s provocative campaigns since my university days. Controversy works! It makes your brand stand out, makes it irresistible and you get people’s immediate and true reaction. Gul Ahmed was in dire need of a bold, fresh and effective communication. As most brands have already chosen the path of women empowerment, using the same idea for Gul Ahmed was a natural fit. But here comes the strategic twist. The agency not only portrayed empowered women, they also took on the centuries-old social stigma related to women’s beauty (along with the mandatory seasonal lawn prints) in a subtle way. The result is a campaign that stood out and was appreciated and talked about.
Verdict: Job well done!
BRAND: Meat One
Agency: IAL Saatchi & Saatchi
Campaign: The Meat Experts
Message: Meat One are the meat experts.
Effectiveness: The TVC lacks a conceptual framework. It starts off nicely but loses impact half way through because there is no storytelling. We have all recently watched the mouth-watering TVC for Nurpur where the camera seduces the product and the product dances to the beat of traditional Pakistani music. These are the kinds of ads you want to watch again and again. In the case of Meat One, nothing is happening. It almost seems like a montage of hundreds of different stock shots stitched together to create one 60-second commercial.
Verdict: Money wasted in a wrong direction.
Sharjeel Ahmad is Creative Director, Manhattan Communications and a professional adviser at the Department of Visual Studies, University of Karachi. firstname.lastname@example.org