ANUSHA ZAHID: Amreli Steels’ ‘Resilience’ campaign was launched recently; why was this done at this particular time?
HADI AKBERALI: We primarily cater to two major market segments. The first are corporations which primarily constitute bulk buyers such as large-scale contractors and builders who purchase our products on a regular basis. The other segment constitutes people who are building their own houses and usually purchase our products from steel retailers, and the primary objective of our campaign is to create brand awareness in this segment.
AZ: Why have you decided to target this audience segment now?
HA: Earlier, we had a production capacity of 180,000 tonnes of steel per year and we primarily catered to bulk buyers. We have recently expanded it to 650,000 tonnes; we want to increase our sales by attracting ‘retail’ consumers now, especially those in rural areas.
AZ: Is this Amreli Steels’ first major campaign?
HA: Even though we have been around since 1972, this is the first time that we have executed an advertising campaign of this magnitude. We did consider launching a campaign earlier but thought it was not worth doing so because advertising is so expensive. But now that we are targeting ‘retail’ consumers, we want them to know us and that is why we executed this campaign.
AZ: Why was the theme of ‘resilience’ chosen for this campaign?
HA: Firstly, if you look at our product, it is resilient in many ways. The process of steel manufacturing requires the raw material to be heated to 1,600 degrees Celsius; it is then modified and eventually rolled into bars. It is a very harsh process, resulting in a strong product. After it is used to construct buildings, steel remains resilient and stands the test of time. Furthermore, in addition to our products, our company and the steel sector are also resilient, as is our country and our people. We go through so many ups and downs but we wake up the next day and keep going no matter what happens. This is why we selected the theme of resilience; bringing this aspect to light became a very interesting storytelling opportunity and stayed true to our company’s values and product attributes.
AZ: What was made you select the two celebrities: Muniba Mazari, who is a physically challenged celebrity, and cricketer Younus Khan for the TVC?
HA: Both are well-known public figures who have remained resilient despite the challenges they have faced. However, Muniba Mazari is better known in certain circles and groups, and that is why we brought in Younus Khan as well. His cricketing journey has been difficult; he struggled to become part of our national team and received a lot of criticism; even after he became captain, he was told that he wasn’t “captain material”. But through sheer determination, he eventually won a Sitara-e-Imtiaz for scoring the highest number of test runs.
AZ: What is the value of steel production in Pakistan and what is Amreli Steels Limited’s market share?
HA: The total volume of Pakistan’s steel industry is approximately six million tonnes per year. It is a wide segment which comprises various steel products; the most dominant ones are steel bars which we produce. Approximately five million tonnes of steel bars are manufactured every year in Pakistan, and Amreli Steels’ market share is about 13%.
AZ: Who would call your major competitors?
HA: Agha Steel Industries in the south and Mughal Steel in the north; others include International Industries Limited, International Steel Limited and Crescent Steel and Allied Products Limited.
AZ: What are Amreli Steels’ plans as far as advertising campaigns are concerned?
HA: The objective of our forthcoming campaign is to educate consumers about steel. Building a house is a very important process but we have observed that when it comes to purchasing steel, people are not involved like they are when it comes to picking out paint for their walls or furniture. They leave this choice to their engineer, architect or contractor. When you rely on these people, you give them ownership and while most are well-intentioned, some may be not, and that is the point we want to bring forth. Steel is a technical product; it has certain specifications and must comply with certain standards. [Our campaign] will educate our consumers about what they should ask retailers before choosing steel, such as: “Which company manufactured the steel?”; “What raw material is being used?” and “Which international standard is it complying with?” I think this will help them make better purchasing decisions. We will also showcase the strength of our products and communicate that our brand is one that can deliver. This is something that we can claim because a lot of landmarks in Pakistan have been built using our steel. These include the Aga Khan Hospital, Karachi and Lahore airports, Dolmen Mall Karachi, LuckyOne Mall, FCP Tower and Serena Hotel Islamabad.