Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in May-Jun 2019

Nescafé Basement 5 – a season of diversity

This year the show became more localised in terms of talent, instruments and music.

Nescafé Basement, a Pakistani music platform sponsored by Nestlé, featuring studio-recorded music performances by young underground musicians, recently concluded its fifth season.

Comprising a total of six episodes, Season 5 was by far the most musically-diverse, featuring all genres from qawwali, to pop, rock and EDM (electronic dance music). The auditions for the latest season began at the end of 2018 and the promo titled ‘Jagna Toh Parega’ was released in January and to date, is said to have surpassed three million views.

The highlights of this year’s edition included performances by eight-year-old Hadia Hashim who sang with the band Soch (Bol Hu); the All Kids Band featuring Fakhr-e-Alam’s popular 90s classic Pyar Diyan Gallan; 18-year-old Abdullah Siddiqui who garnered a substantial fan base for his original Resistance; Tehseen Sakina with her rendition of Abida Parveen’s Gharoli and Ghoom Charakhra with the Baloch twins (Asim and Adil Baloch) and 38-year-old Shahzad-e-Ali who won the audiences over with Ranjhna.

According to Fizza Ijaz, Manager Marketing, Nescafé, Maggi and CPW, what made Season 5 different from the previous ones was the fact that although the show is aimed at the young and showcases young talent, this time the team did not impose an age limit on the musicians. Quoting the example of Shahzad-e-Ali, who has a Ph.D in Marketing and works as a professor, Ijaz says that “through this platform and for the first time, he had the chance to showcase his hidden talent.”

Ijaz also believes that Nescafé Basement has evolved and become ‘more localised’. “Earlier, we had more English /Western genres, but as we widened our talent hunt we found more diversity in terms of talent, instruments used and music.”


Comprising a total of six episodes, Season 5 was by far the most musically-diverse, featuring all genres from qawwali, to pop, rock and EDM (electronic dance music). The auditions for the latest season began at the end of 2018 and the promo titled ‘Jagna Toh Parega’ was released in January and to date, is said to have surpassed three million views.


Earlier, the team used to approach schools and colleges only – for coffee sampling while at the same time creating hype about the show and inviting youngsters to come and audition. However, for Season 5, the brand invited auditions from all social media platforms and as a result, they received about a thousand audition enquiries (from Chitral to Sindh) following the first announcement. The same strategy was applied in terms of the promotion, which Ijaz believes earlier wasn’t very aggressive. Apart from the TV and social media platforms, the brand advertised on radio and TV morning shows. “Our YouTube channel subscription went from a few thousand to 200,000 subscribers this season.”

The brainchild of Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan (known as Xulfi), Nescafé Basement launched their first season in 2012. Khan has since been the producer as well as the selector and mentor of the musicians. He decides what talent/vocals will be showcased during a particular season. Ijaz points out that one season can only fit in a set number of talent (this year it was 73) despite receiving several hundred entries.

Explaining the process further, Ijaz says that the selection of the music and determining the number of episodes for a season takes place during the auditions and never beforehand. For example, “the boys who sang Mehbooba sang it so well in the audition, we told them they and their song was in.” Similarly, Tehseen Sakina shared her inspiration about Abida Parveen and later sang her song.

Faisal Rana, Head of Communications and Marketing, Nestlé Pakistan, adds that although the show typically runs for four to eight weeks (one episode a week) “if during the audition we identify something exceptional, we have the flexibility to include it and increase the number of episodes. Rana adds that the objective of the show is to help talented youngsters bloom by providing them with a platform to showcase their talent and inspire others – hence the tagline: It All Starts with Nescafé.

If the musicians prove successful in Nescafé Basement, the brand helps them gain access to other platforms such as TV shows, on ground concerts as well as the backend vocal industry. However, Ijaz cautions that the road to recognition is not easy. “This is where we struggle. We would like our musicians to go on to a second project, a third one and so on and make a career out of their talent. We cannot do that. All we can do is give them a boost but someone else has to carry the torch from then on.”