AdAsia 89 was a major milestone for the advertising profession and the culmination of a journey that started with the First Pakistan Advertising Congress held in 1979 in Karachi (as it turned out, it was also the last), held under the chairmanship of Javed Jabbar. The idea was to engage all industry stakeholders in a productive dialogue that would ensure sustained collaboration among them. It was this spirit of collaboration that enabled the profession to make a successful bid in Seoul for Pakistan to host the 16th Asian Advertising Congress (AdAsia 89). AdAsia 89 turned out to be a spectacular success for Pakistan; it was deemed to have been one of the best AdAsias ever held by foreign delegates and speakers alike, and put Pakistani advertising on the global map in the best possible light.
For the Organising Committee of the 16th Asian Advertising Congress, it’s been a long journey of trials and triumphs. The next four days will be the true test of their ability and endurance – as Pakistan hosts the largest international congress organised by the private sector. The first Asian Advertising Congress was held in Tokyo in 1958. Since then, AdAsia has been held every alternate year in various Asian cities. In 1984, competing against Australia in Seoul, Pakistan won the bid to host the 16th AAC in 1988. Since most events in Pakistan are prone to postponements, AdAsia was moved ahead to 1989.
Most Asian Advertising Congresses are attended by 800 to 1,000 delegates, with about 50% participation from host countries. Pakistan has reportedly met the target. The campaign for the registration of overseas delegates commenced at the IAA’s Conference in Sydney in May 1988. The Organising Committee made presentations in almost all countries of the region – in the Far East, South Asia and West Africa.
The Organising Committee has succeeded in turning a drawback into an advantage. The absence of large, plush hotels in Lahore will force Congress delegates into the more exciting outdoors – for most meals and a true taste of the city’s culture.
Launch and preparatory meeting
A year ago, on February 19, 1988, at the venue where the Congress is now being held, AdAsia 89 was launched by Punjab Chief Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. A year before, Senator Javed Jabbar was elected Chairman of AdAsia 89 by the Central Executive Committee of the Pakistan Advertising Association. An Organising Committee, representing related sectors was formed shortly afterwards. Subcommittees to deal with every organisational aspect of AdAsia 89 were set up.
Congress theme and logo
Each AdAsia has its own distinct theme and symbol. The AdAsia 89 theme: “Together Towards Tomorrow”, was proposed by IAL and selected by the Organising Committee from over 30 suggested. The Congress logo, which is a visual interpretation of the theme, was designed by Oscar Advertising. According to an AdAsia bulletin: “The design in a stylised arrow form shows 15 bars joined together, denoting the 15 Asian Congresses held in the past and the 16th bar, a little ahead of the rest, waiting to join the forward march – Together Towards Tomorrow.”
A ‘regional’ approach
The AdAsia 89 programme is conceived to give representation to eight distinct ‘advertising regions’, which are: China, Japan, East Asia (Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Asia-Pacific countries), ASEAN (the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand), Australia and New Zealand, SAARC (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan), West Asia (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Yemen Arab Republic, People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen) and North Asia (USSR’s Asian Republics and Mongolia).
In a span of four days, AdAsia delegates are expected to listen (attentively, if possible) to about 45 distinguished speakers – an average of 10.5 per day! Delegates will, of course, pick and choose – or snooze – their way through. The list of speakers is like a ‘who’s who’ from the world of mass communications and they include Edward de Bono (the inventor of the term ‘lateral thinking’), Alban Lloyd (Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi International), Clay Timon (President, IAA & VP/Director Worldwide Advertising, Colgate-Palmolive), Shuzu Ishikawa (MD, Dentsu, Japan) Ronald Beatson (Director-General, European Association of Advertising Agencies), Antonio De Joya (Chairman, AMDC and Chairman Emeritus, Asian Federation of Advertising Association), Arun Poorie (Editor, India Today), John Stacks (Chief of Correspondents, Time Magazine) and David Wheeler (Director-General, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, UK).
The venue was almost a Hobson’s choice for the Organising Committee. Karachi has the hotels but lacks ‘culture’; Lahore is somewhat backward in accommodation facilities but compensates with its architecture and environs. Ultimately, it was Al-Hamra Arts Centre and its auditorium which clinched the choice in favour of Lahore. The Punjab Government sanctioned Rs 2.5 million for its renovation for AdAsia 89. The auditorium has been equipped with sophisticated audio-visual facilities by a Singaporean company. Simultaneous translation arrangements have also been made for delegates from China, Japan and Korea.
In the art gallery of the Al-Hamra, an exhibition has been mounted, displaying print advertising and design. ADEX is divided into two sections: the first consisting of stands where participating organisations are displaying their products and services; the second is the advertising exhibition. Film commercials will be shown in the auditorium as part of the Congress programme.
The Organising Committee has succeeded in turning a drawback into an advantage. The absence of large, plush hotels in Lahore will force Congress delegates into the more exciting outdoors – for most meals and a true taste of the city’s culture. Imaginative scenarios are being created: ‘Costumes through the ages’, ‘Artisans at work’– and the grand finale at Lahore Fort, where delegates will light a ‘burj’ to contribute to a gigantic fireworks display. According to reports, mobile toilets have been arranged at public places such as the Bagh-i-Jinnah and Lahore Fort. Meals are being catered keeping in mind the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of delegates from different countries.
Excerpted from AdAsia 89, a Dawn supplement, published on February 19, 1989. Zohra Yusuf is Chief Creative Officer, Spectrum Y&R.
First published in THE DAWN OF ADVERTISING IN PAKISTAN (1947-2017), a Special Report published by DAWN on March 31, 2018.