Making a house a home
Zameen.com ads are very clear in their messaging – they can help you find a house but it’s up to you to make it a home and turn it into something beyond brick and mortar. In the new ad, directed by Ahsan Rahim and featuring Fawad Khan, Asif Raza Mir and Sana Javed, the same message is very much there, but it is conveyed through a storyline that is very predictable.
Khan plays a busy, workaholic father, whose job commitments and pressures cause him to miss out on key milestones in his son’s life. One night, he comes home to find his son curled up asleep on the sofa clutching the trophy he won that morning and which he had been trying to tell his father about over many missed calls. As Khan flips through a series of photos of them together, he realises how distant he has become from his son. The next day, a tearful message from the boy at his birthday party, which Khan was planning on missing for a client presentation, puts things into perspective and Khan eventually chooses the birthday party over his work. He decides to turn his house into a home. We get a beautiful film, etched with emotions, but an idea that is somewhat a cliché.
This was a film that had a clear and definitive narrative, which in itself is an achievement, given that storytelling isn’t always very strong in Pakistani advertising, and we tend to think in disjointed acts stitched together through expensive, commissioned jingles.
Zameen.com has created an image for itself that forms an attachment with the viewer. It is the softer, more nuanced persona of the brand, and now when I think Zameen.com, I think family, values, achievement and aspiration.
Unfortunately for me, the introduction to the ad was the weakest element of the story. The acting and dialogue seemed contrived, and Khan’s character portrayed as arrogant and cocky, made it even more obvious that this would be a story about redemption and that he would eventually come out as the enlightened hero. Add to that, the filmi set up of the competition between two colleagues and all I could mouth was the word cheesy.
The film becomes more interesting as we see Khan in his home. He seems sensitive and compassionate, finally letting his guard down. I am in two minds about the pacing of the ad, as some parts feel just right, whereas, others, including the sequence of him at home, flipping through the album and looking at pictures, then picking up and carrying his son off to his room, felt unnecessarily stretched out. At six minutes plus, this ad could definitely do with another round of editing to make it sharper and more impactful.
Overall, I appreciate the fact that Zameen.com ads are based on real insights that are not only very telling of Pakistani society but very relatable for Pakistani audiences. This ad is about a father who is absent from his son’s life, a phenomenon all too common in Pakistan. The previous ad, where Khan is the son who has been away from home for five years, earning in order to make a home for the family, was equally powerful because it resonated with people and felt like it was their own story.
There is a sincerity in the Zameen.com ads that is very palpable for audiences and this particular film carries the same flavour. In showing the strength of family bonds, it gives audiences a larger message on their value system. Zameen.com puts people before anything else. It is rooted in culture and family tradition.
As a brand, I think it is brilliant that Zameen.com has chosen not to go down the path of typical real estate ads, where properties and lifestyles are touted, and where the ads are only about communicating the functionality of the product or service. Zameen.com has created an image for itself that forms an attachment with the viewer. It is the softer, more nuanced persona of the brand, and now when I think Zameen.com, I think family, values, achievement and aspiration.
Sheherzad Kaleem is a documentary filmmaker based in Dubai. firstname.lastname@example.org
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