Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Top 5ives 2020

Ten marketing/media professionals list down the top five of everything in 2020.
Advertising Stuff We Didn’t Know Before Covid-19

1.) “Come Over to Our Office” Doesn’t Have to Be a Thing: I can’t count the number of hours I wasted ‘on the way’ to meetings. Factor in waiting rooms, ‘chai or coffee?’ sequences and ‘The boss will be here soon’ chain-of-command flex, and the day’s done for. I’m glad we all realised that we can skip all those shenanigans.

2.) The Eight-Hour Workday Is a Myth: Unless you are Elon Musk or a factory worker, you can’t realistically be truly working for eight hours a day. Most people struggle to get even four hours of deep work done. Having gone through WFH, we learnt to take responsibility for our own productivity.

3.) Digital Is Not a Vanity Medium: Most brands and agencies in Pakistan (including us) considered digital to be dessert – not the main course. Now that we can’t rely on the volume of physical purchases, we are forced to look at social and digital from a ROI point of view.

4.) Management Style Has to Change: In a remote setting, it is hard to hide behind talk because personality and charisma do not translate as well. The results are there, being tracked in black and white. This means that most people need to pivot to a performance-based model.

5.) SAAS Tools are not ‘Just Shiny Apps’: Software-as-a-service products, like Slack, Google Suite, Miro, Basecamp, and have become multi-million dollar companies for a reason. If you embrace them, they can be a value-add to your team’s productivity. Best to get acclimatised sooner rather than later.

Umair Kazi is Partner, Ishtehari.

Big Ideas

1.) Womb Stories – Libresse by AMV BBDO London: Libresse keeps setting the standards for authentic communication and this campaign in 2020 was no different. A stunning work of craft, Womb Stories captures the emotional complexities of the womb. Told through parallel stories, the extraordinary film takes us through an incredible rollercoaster of visuals in both animated and live action.

2.) Moldy Whopper – Burger King by INGO Stockholm and David Miami: It wouldn’t be possible to make a “Best of” list and not include Burger King, such is the brand vision of Fernando Machado. In what would be considered the last possible thing a brand manager would do with a food product, we see a beautifully crafted film of a Whopper rotting. But it makes sense for a product that has no artificial ingredients. Never has ugliness been so tasty.

3.) Go Back to Africa – Black & Abroad by FCB/Six: A really smart flip of a racial slur into a positive tourism message makes this easily one of the most intelligent campaigns to be made this year. Using actual tweets that had hate-filled racist messages telling people to “Go back to Africa” the algorithm showcased the phrase against the backdrop of stunning scenery from every country in Africa.

4.) Hunger Insurance – Snickers by Impact BBDO Dubai: In this new twist for the entertaining ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ platform, Snickers introduced a first-of-its-kind insurance to cover you for the blunders you make when you are hungry. All you had to do was tell a chatbot what you did and it would assess the severity through an algorithm, ultimately paying you in free Snickers depending on how bad your blunder was.

5.) Air Max Graffiti Stores – Nike by AKQA Sao Paulo: A beautiful example of using street culture, Nike asked street artists to update their previous urban artworks by painting on the new Air Max sneakers. A brilliant e-commerce tie-in completed this brilliant campaign: you could only pre-order the shoes if you visited the artwork and accessed the site through geo-location.

Ali Rez is Regional ECD for Middle East and Pakistan, BBDO Worldwide. He is an 11-time Cannes Lions winner.

Biggest Things That Broke the Internet

1.) Coronavirus Outbreak: Who would have imagined a tiny virus could turn the whole planet upside down? Social media has been completely obsessed with news of the virus, the hunt for a cure and infection figures. Donald Trump became the only sitting US president to lose a re-election in the modern era while New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a landslide victory. Covid-19 played a key role in both elections.

2.) The Royals Resign Royalty: On January 8, 2020, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan announced they were leaving their royal duties. Growing up in the aftermath of his mother’s death because of intense media scrutiny, Prince Harry chose to walk away from it all rather than endanger his family.

3.) Trump Refuses to Resign: Neither the fact that Donald Trump was only the third president of the US to be impeached in January nor that his handpicked senate majority acquitted him was a surprise to anyone. Social media was flooded with angry protests from both camps. This was the start of a chain reaction that led to his election defeat. However, Trump being Trump refused to concede as of the time of writing and is launching baseless lawsuits in the courts in the process.

4.) The Assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani: The US Government is not new to assassinations but under Donald Trump it went overboard. On January 3, 2020, Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, a senior and influential military figure in Iran. Both countries almost came to the brink of war.

5.) 5G and the US Trade War With China: President Trump not only chose to implement tough anti-China economic policies unilaterally, he threatened other countries with sanctions if they did not comply. The US claims China is using 5G networks to spy on other countries. Whether this is true or just a tactic to win a share of the lucrative 5G market is anyone’s guess.

Syed Amir Haleem is CEO, Kueball.

Brand Wars

1.) Burger King vs. McDonald’s: Although in Pakistan McDonald’s lead in market share and Top of Mind, on the global front, Burger King continued to be a thorn in the side of their competitor. The Whopper Reply campaign, in which Burger King interacted with unhappy McDonald’s customers on their Facebook page and the recent ‘Order from McDonald’s’ campaigns stood as clear winners.

2.) Coke vs. Pepsi: Will this battle ever be over? It was a neck-to-neck competition this year and in the absence of Coke Studio and Coke Fest, Pepsi capitalised with their ‘Millions of Meals’ campaign. The recent ‘Karachi Love Hai Jaani’ staged a comeback for Coke. Overall, it’s a draw.

3.) Ariel vs. Brite vs. Surf: Although Surf Excel’s ‘Dirt is Good’ dragged on for another year, they fell behind Ariel in market share growth this year. The Ariel Hu Hu and Wasim Akram’s demo based ads continued delivering results. Brite, the unsung hero, probably had the best communication message in the detergents category – ‘Brite Sab Right Kar De Ga’. Nevertheless, the winner is Ariel for their strong push towards market leadership.

4.) Hum TV vs. ARY Digital vs. Geo Entertainment: The top entertainment channels competed head to head for the title of most popular drama serial of the year. Hum’s Ehd-e-Wafa appealed to the patriotism among audiences and Geo’s Alif catered to a more sophisticated audience. However, the winner was ARY’s controversial yet popular Mere Paas Tum Ho, garnering the highest rating for a drama episode and drawing audiences to fully booked theatres for the final episode.

5.) Jazz vs. Telenor vs. Zong: Covid-19 was best suited to the telecom industry as data usage went up significantly. In 2020, Telenor tried, albeit too hard at times, to create advertising magic, to the extent of copying a Saudi ad frame by frame. Zong too went down the tried and tested route. Jazz, however, got the big one by selecting Esra Bilgiç for their campaign and completely bombarded the audience with the Turkish lady. This one goes to Jazz.

Sami Qahar is CEO, Stimulus Productions.

Design Ideas of 2020

1.) Gaming Design Will Pervade Culture: When a cultural form becomes successful, it affects all others. So, it will be with Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMO). MMOs, like World of Warcraft, enable you to escape through your screen and have adventures in other worlds. This is very appealing with most of us unable to travel far in real life – or even leave home in some places.

2.) Virtual Meetings Will Become More Immersive: You have almost certainly had Zoom (or similar) meetings by now. The novelty wears off quickly. A generation brought up on MMOs will find the experience too basic. The next step in design is to get closer to the immersive gaming experience. Your avatar will enter virtual meeting rooms and interact with colleagues. We will soon look back on Zoom as a very early technology.

3.) Resilient Supply Chains Will Become the Business Focus: Several forces are undermining globalised, tech enabled ‘just in time’ supply chains – economic nationalism, climate change and, of course, Covid-19. In 2020, we learnt that “just in time” also meant “grinding to a halt”. Companies will switch from thinking mainly about efficiency to thinking about resilience. That will mean more automation to “re-shore” some manufacturing in high wage countries like the US.

4.) Local Food by Local People for Local People: Economic crises bring hunkering down and keeping things close to home. There are resilience arguments for wanting more food to be grown locally. But it is also a deeper emotional response; we want to feel more connected to the food we eat and the people who produce it. In the UK, there are more farmers markets than Sainbury’s stores and seemingly everyone with even a small patch of garden is growing vegetables from seed.

5.) Face Masks and Hand Sanitizers: Although the former will increasingly be a form of individual creative expression, the latter will feel less like rubbing.

Julian Saunders is a strategist, writer and teacher and was CEO of a creative agency (WPP’s Red Cell).

Covid-19 Campaigns

1.) Nike: As a brand that oozes motivation, Nike didn’t miss a step when it came to tackling the Covid-19 crisis. They simply shifted their focus to ‘playing inside’, encouraging people to continue with their athletic routines within the safety of their homes. But of course, they made it seem like the biggest game on Earth. Their caption read: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.”

2.) Interwood Office Solutions: In a world where most brands were adamant on keeping people apart, Interwood focused on bringing them back together safely to the workplace, with their range of distant-working workstations. The campaign took a humorous – yet poignant – approach to the challenges of remote working. To work together, it’s better to be together.

3.) McDonald’s Brazil: The most creative and memorable campaigns are often the simplest ones. Case-in-point: McDonald’s Brazil, which effectively raised awareness about social distancing by ingeniously separating the iconic Golden Arches in their logo. The chain also promoted their drive-in services as a way to reduce physical interactions. Their caption read “Separado po um momento” (Separated for the moment).

4.) Mucinex: At a time when misinformation was spreading as fast as the virus itself, the cold and flu brand, Mucinex stepped in to clear up some of the confusion with their ‘Spread Facts, Not Fear’ campaign, featuring a series of insightful tips to help curb the spread of the virus along with clever iconic based illustrations. The campaign encouraged audiences to visit for accurate information about the virus.

5.) Burger King: Trust Burger King to portray couch potatoes as national heroes (or ‘Couch Potatriots’). Stay home, order on the app, get free delivery and do your part for your country. It’s so ridiculous that it’s good. Talk about connecting with your audience. The tagline ‘Stay Home of the Whopper’ doesn’t even make sense but still somehow works. Burger King donated proceeds and 250,000 Whoppers to the American Nurses Foundation.

Taimur Tajik is Creative Head, Interwood.

Lifestyle Trends

1.) Digital Transformation: The lockdown took millions of brick and mortar regulars down a journey they had been avoiding for years – into the unknown world of digital apps. As major hospitals opened up telemedicine consults, online teaching became a way of life for most schools and banking call centres saw a surge in calls asking for assistance with mobile banking. Clearly, the leap most Pakistanis were hesitant to take in digitising their life was finally taken.

2.) Bake Your Bread and Eat It Too: Supermarkets saw a virtual wipe out in self-raising flour and yeast as folks, bored at home, took this enforced nesting as a time to literally bake bread and break it with loved ones. Homemade banana bread pictures for sure spiked to an all-time high in the April to June timeframe.

3.) Work from Home Accessories: As viewing time of computers, smartphones, and TV saw an unprecedented surge, the demand for accessories reducing eye and back strains increased. Although the commonplace ergonomic chairs in offices stayed off the purchase list given the price tag, blue light protection glasses and screen shields that reduce the amount of blue light emitted from devices remain in demand by parents of school going children and employees working from home.

4.) Mental Healthcare: Isolation, lack of socialisation and fear of the unknown – the emotional roller coaster that everyone was hurled onto in March saw the emergence of safe virtual spaces that offered counselling from experts. Responsible employers took it upon themselves to activate messages and emails offering advice and reminders on how to deal with issues arising out from WFH and coping with the ‘new normal’.

5.) Personalised Masks: As both consumers and entrepreneurs realised that masks are not just a safety essential but also take up a fair amount of real estate on your face, the big brands in fashion retail, as well as enterprising homepreneurs, jumped in to offer a variety of themes and designs suitable for children, tweens, teens and adults.

Farahnaz Haider Shaikh is CCO, Spectrum VMLY&R.

Marketing Initiatives

1.) Facebook Groups Ad – Super Bowl Commercial: It was a first for Facebook to use Super Bowl Commercial space with a quirky 60-second ad to entice audiences. This taught us that one should know when to bend the knee and be smart about it – a TV ad that kept it real with real members from real Facebook groups became a big win for the platform!

2.) Millions of Meals – Pepsi Pakistan: Pepsi Pakistan launched the ‘Million of Meals’ campaign – a promise to feed millions across the nation while the pandemic lasted. Pepsi became the first brand to initiate an action-based CSR campaign around the inevitable hunger caused by the lockdown. It won the support of millions and garnered some much-needed brand love along the way.

3.) #Metoo Movement – Gillette: A movement that shocked the world and empowered women. But what does a razor have to do with it? It shaves off the age-old perspective: “Men Will Be Men”. Gillette won hearts as they went from being irrelevant to most relevant on social media with 1.5 million mentions.

4.) #DaaghonKaChampion – Surf Excel Pakistan: We still live in a time when brands think communicating a functional feature needs to be mundane. Surf Excel took a different route with various on camera daag moments that created the first-ever on-screen LIVE stunts. Ad amplification and hype around product functionality done creatively.

5.) Play for the World – Nike USA: Imagine being a brand that sells shoes and communicates being on the move. But great brands know when it is time to communicate a different message. Nike did just that. Their tagline went from ‘Just Do It’ to ‘Play Inside, Play for the World.’ This became a gold standard for messaging pivots during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mahreen Azam is Senior Creative Manager, BBDO Pakistan.

Stereotype Busters

1.) Amreli Steels – Apki Tarha Solid: A fresh take on cultural stereotypes that differentiated between what society thinks is good and what you think is right. It captures the different expectations of society to turn you into whom they want you to become. Yet, this father does what he thinks is right and imparts the same values to his children.

2.) Tanishq – Ekatvam: Indian jewellery Tanishq brand broke stereotypes again by challenging societal norms. The ad (removed in India) depicts a Muslim household preparing for the Hindu ritual of godh bharai (akin to baby shower) for their daughter-in-law. Rather than being intolerant, why not take a few tips from the loving mother-in-law on showing empathy to her son’s wife?

3.) Kenwood – Apka Kitchen Partner:Itna sa kaam hai, khud karwalo. Tumhare paas konse itnay kaam hote hain saara din.” Kenwood tackles the stereotype whereby housewives don’t do much at home, by reversing the role of the spouses in a husband’s dream so that he can realise all the impossible tasks she attends to daily.

4.) Brooke Bond – Dooriyon Main Apna Pan: 2020 was full of public service messages and Brooke Bond addressed the stereotype of the year: shunning people with Covid-19. It highlights a conversation between a couple; the husband asks his wife to avoid their neighbour who has Covid-19 and she responds with “Usay akele rehne ke liye kaha hai, akele chorne ke liye nahi.”

5.) Lenovo – Equality Spell Check: This ad addresses women in the MENA region who face gender stereotyping at work. By modifying Microsoft Word, Lenovo wanted to alter behaviours and lead to conversations about gender equality. Everyday seemingly positive words were highlighted, but when clicked on, alternative definitions of the words were revealed.

Sheema Khan is Sr. Manager Communications & Strategy, Woot.


1.) Shan Foods – #MoreThanJustACook: This was the most refreshing in the Shan Foods “Khana Banana Ya Ghar Chalana Kisi Aik Ka Kaam Nahi” (“Cooking or running the home is not one person’s job”) series. This TVC blasted through the emotional clutter. A dad follows his late wife’s recipe in order to cook a birthday dinner for his working daughter. The product remained central to the story and the fantastic dad-daughter chemistry totally won this.

2.) Coke Karachi Love Hai Jani: The slick editing in this TVC captured the cosmopolitan character and chaos of one of the world’s largest cities. To call the rap piece by the Young Stunners a ‘background’ score, is not fair because it refuses to stay there despite the striking visuals. Ali Hamza’s vocals added the final fizz to this feast of a TVC. Coke deserves 10 out of 10 for squeezing in this political statement about Karachi’s neglect: ‘Nazar Andaaz Hoke Bhi, Koi Muqabla Na’. (Karachi has no competition despite the neglect.)

3.) Chili Mili with Fahad Mustafa: The brand knew they were onto a winner when they signed up the man who carries the weight of Pakistan’s most popular game show. Turning on the charm and carrying off ethnic costumes and personas, Mustafa totally owns this one. Add humour and a stick-in-your-head jingle and this TVC sells not just Chili Mili but local tourism and national unity.

4.) Surf Excel (Covid-19) – #NekiNahiRukegi: Surf Excel’s Ramzan ‘neki’ theme was poised to work during a pandemic and it didn’t disappoint when it quickly responded to what was top of mind for audiences and came up with as strong a ‘neki’ message as was possible in lockdown mode.

5.) Shan Foods (Covid-19) – Khushiyan Chakhlo: Could ‘Kisi Aik Ka Kaam Nahi’ become for Shan Foods what ‘Daagh Toh Achhe Hain’ was for Surf Excel? The storyline about the doctor coming home to receive socially distant food and love from her family is relatable. It is heartening to see a local brand taking the lead on women’s empowerment.