Born to Fakhriya and Mohammad Ashraf Mir, our father, Shoaib Mir, was the third son among three sisters and two brothers.
In his school days, although he was not very fond of academic studies, he was passionate about learning. He was a bibliophile who enjoyed investing in books. He was so well-versed in so many subjects that people called him a walking encyclopaedia. He was one of those people who loved to read the dictionary in his spare time as well as doing the daily crossword puzzle. Sleep didn’t come to him until he had read his newly-purchased books or revisited the morning paper. He encouraged us to read; during our summer vacations, he gave us assignments to read the newspaper and translate at least one news item in English and one in Urdu. As an M.A. in Sociology and B.Sc. in Pre-Medical, we joked about how he ended up in advertising.
It was because of his fluency in English, Urdu and Punjabi, and an innate creativity that led him into a career in advertising almost five decades ago. He worked at Prestige GREY Communications as a copywriter and later joined Scan Communications as a creative manager.
A diehard jiyala, his prodigious love for Bhutto and the PPP was infectious. During the Zia era, he became an activist; writing, publishing and distributing pamphlets at a time when censorship was at its height. As a result, he was sent to jail and in 1981, he became Amnesty International’s Prisoner of Conscience. He was at the peak of his career, yet he gave advertising up for something he believed in.
Returning from jail, it was a struggle to re-enter the advertising industry so he joined (rather half-heartedly) Pamir Autos as a partner, and worked there for five years. During that time he married our mother, Yasmeen Shoaib.
"As a lover of poetry and music, Dad joined Faiz Ghar and pursued a lifelong dream of singing. There were times when he did his riyaaz until two in the morning, because, he told us, it would improve his voice."
Dad was an extremely liberal and open-minded husband and father who believed in gender equality. When my mother (a teacher for 13 years), decided to take early retirement to start a business venture, he supported her in every way he could. He not only helped her realise her dreams, he gave her the confidence to live life on her own terms. In his last days, when he was hospitalised, he would lovingly look at his beautiful wife. Later on, when mom used to jog his memory asking him who she was, he replied: “Tum he tou meri sab kuch ho” (you mean the world to me).
Dad was passionate about advertising. He rose from a copywriter to becoming general manager and senior executive creative director at Pakistan’s top advertising agencies. He eventually resumed his advertising career by working with Shamel Advertising in Riyadh and then with Prestige GREY Communications, Adcom Leo Burnett, Orientm-McCANN, MullenLowe Rauf, Midas Communications and Modem 4.
He contributed in building the brand equity of household names such as Coca-Cola, Don Carlos, ICI Dulux, Kit kat, Maggi, Nestlé Milkpak, Nescafé, Nissan, P&G, Polo, Rose Petal and Shaukat Khanum Hospital (to name just a few).
He created iconic campaigns including developing Nestlé Milkpak’s tagline: Khaalis Hee Sab Kuchh Hai (later adapted to ‘Purity is Everything’ by Nestlé India). He wrote the Coca-Cola jingle: Sitaron ka josh hai, deewanon ka valvala / Jahan hai muqabla wahan Coca-Cola; the Polo tagline: Polo Main Hole Kyun Hai?; Nestlé yoghurt’s Kapray Chottay Nahi, Bachay Baray Ho Jatay Hain; ICI Dulux’s Kyunkay Ghar Tou Sabko Piyara Hai; SKMCH’s Qurbani Allah Keliye, Khaal Shaukat Khanum Keliye and the Aurora Award winning ad ‘The Don Carlos Experience’.
#### Dad did not suffer fools gladly and could give anyone a piece of his mind if he thought it fit. He left a strong impression with those who had a chance to be in his company. Be they junior or senior, young or old, he had the ability to connect with them and leave a long-lasting impression.
His work on ‘Imagination’ was one of the seven selected from among 80 Leo Burnett offices worldwide for inclusion in Burnett Beat. At Midas, he worked on accounts such as the Benazir Income Support Program; the Ministries of Labour, Water & Power and Family Planning. He also wrote the commentary for Pakistan Army/ISPR documentaries on the 2010 floods.
After he officially retired from advertising, he pursued the same passion as a freelance communication consultant and creative writer. He taught advertising and copywriting at the Beaconhouse National University (BNU), which although a challenge, he accepted sportingly.
As a lover of poetry and music, Dad joined Faiz Ghar and pursued a lifelong dream of singing. There were times when he did his riyaaz until two in the morning, because, he told us, it would improve his voice. And he succeeded in that too; family gatherings were incomplete without Gullay Maamoo (as he was known to his nephews and nieces) singing one of his many songs. Such a crowd puller he was.
"Our father was an honest man, a good son, brother, uncle, friend, mentor and above all, a loving husband and a doting father."
He had a keen interest in sports, which dated to the sixties, when he played cricket, hockey, tennis and table tennis, among other sports. Later on, he stood in nine first-class matches as a cricket umpire in Pakistan.
Dad did not suffer fools gladly and could give anyone a piece of his mind if he thought it fit. He left a strong impression with those who had a chance to be in his company. Be they junior or senior, young or old, he had the ability to connect with them and leave a long lasting impression.
He was one of the top creative veterans of Pakistani advertising. A great many tributes poured in when he passed away. People narrated stories about his personality, creative brilliance, unforgettable sense of humour and eclectic intellect.
Our father was an honest man, a good son, brother, uncle, friend, mentor and above all, a loving husband and a doting father. They say something in you dies with the death of someone you relate to so closely. When we think about Dad, this seems to be truer than ever.
Our father, Shoaib Mir, breathed his last on May 21, 2018, after a battle with cancer. He was and will remain our role model and we hope to do justice to his legacy.
Raeesa and Abdullah Mir are Shoaib Mir’s children.