Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Food Advertising At Its Finest

Updated 24 Jun, 2020 03:20pm

Talha Bin Hamid highlights some of the more meaningful, insightful and effective ads from this past year.

It is 2020 and every advertiser and product manager agrees: more complication equals more market share.

A shampoo cannot be something as pedestrian as a liquid to clean your hair. It has to be a HAIR CARE SYSTEM, comprising a shampoo, a conditioner and a third bottle/vial of who knows what. Paint, rather than simply improve the look of your walls, has to protect your house for at least 5,000 years. A car cannot just haul you to the office and back, it needs to conquer K-2, outrun snakes in the desert and make a splash along the beach before it deposits your smiling wife at her mom’s, who lives in a white castle. A cooking oil does not just need to (you know) COOK - it has to cure cancer, prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and make you thinner as you eat. Which brings me to food and advertising.

Let’s start with Shan Foods. The name of the company is a gift for slogans and the latest one is no different: "jo bhi karo, karo shan se" (do everything with pride). The ad shows a couple; the husband is poring over the family’s finances and worrying about liabilities, the wife interrupts and scares him a bit by reminding him about the grocery bill, before disclosing that it is covered by her savings. The ad then asserts that women do not only cook, they are homemakers. I believe this ad highlights a crucial role played by housewives all over Pakistan: ensuring that the household functions within the means at its disposal. It ties in well with the product: a sachet pack of Shan’s Biryani Mix. If only the same could be said for their frankly mindless campaign for Shoop Noodles.

The social messaging continues with Tapal’s Tum, mein aur aik cup chai ads. In this series, a husband consoles his wife after a tense encounter with his mother by making her a cup of tea. In another, a son is about to leave for office in the morning and then decides to sit and have a cup of tea with his mother. Given that Tapal is a well known brand in the market, this series of ads is a refreshing reminder of the social bonding potential of a cup of tea, without being heavy handed about the virtues of the product itself. The ad is subtle to a fault: it practically ends up making a case for tea, rather than for Tapal Danedar (recall the Ariel ads from a decade ago). However, the social messaging is impeccable and Tapal should be lauded for it.

Vital Tea continues to carry forward its campaign, portraying the tea as a stimulus for social change. In the latest ad, a person drinking tea interferes in a haggling match between a posh-looking lady and a child hawker. However, they might want to consider tweaking their packaging as it appears to be heavily inspired by another tea brand’s packaging.

As ‘tasteful’ and ‘fulfilling’ as these campaigns are, Dastak Cooking Oil’s ad dwarfs virtually every other player in the market. The ad went viral (it was all over social media and even on LinkedIn) and is one of the most effective ads I have seen. An office boy serves food to the boss every day. One day the boss sees him eating his leftovers. The next day he brings the food already neatly divided into two portions. It is one of those rare ads which can leave one with a lump in your throat (this cold hearted accountant included). The imagery is spot on and the messaging is extremely effective without wandering into (too much) sappiness. The ad does more to raise awareness about food wastage and hunger than any number of campaigns over the years (there have been more than a few). The production is immaculate and the acting is top notch. Hats off!

Can you classify spreading unencumbered joy as a social service? If so, I would like to highlight Soya Supreme’s Thora Aur Khao campaign. It is hardly a social message per se, although it speaks to a section of our society that is struggling with fitness issues (this overweight accountant included). As a target audience for the campaign, I find it hard to overstate its brilliance and on-the-money messaging. The Pakistani diet is inherently unhealthy, and as much as we try to stick to diet regimens (Keto, Atkins, low-carb, others), our culinary landscape makes it extremely difficult and expensive to do so. It is a constant tale of daily starts (I will positively start Keto today) to nightly disappointments (okay, I couldn’t do it today, but just wait until tomorrow!); the next day dawns with the realisation that you can’t have your tea without sugar and that it is almost impossible to avoid wheat - and the cycle continues.

Thora Aur Khao is a joyful alternative. No need to bother about portion control as long as you cook with Soya Supreme. The jingle is catchy and the concept, though iffy on technical merits, fills one with unbridled joy (in addition to loads of carbs already there). Brilliant. Thank you for bringing a little happiness into our lives Soya Supreme!

These campaigns showcase meaningful, insightful and effective ads that you don’t want to skip. They do not rely on gimmicks and jokes (shunning the influence of our eastern neighbour). There are no falling teachers, flabbergasted husbands, jealous neighbours, or irate mothers-in-law. What a feast!

Talha bin Hamid is an accountant by day and an opinionated observer of pop culture, an avid reader, a gamer and an all-around nerd by night. talhamid@gmail.com