Published in Mar-Apr 2022
What makes a good ad? A compelling story that keeps the audience captivated? A catchy tune to sing along to? Does the creative connect based on a strong, strategic insight, or on an assumption of what is trending and is likely to be liked? If unrealistic timelines, constant feedback, irrelevant brand integration, and running back to the drawing board were not enough, creatives are now challenged with a new dilemma: should we make the ads short or hard-hitting? Which brings me back to my question: What makes a good ad? One that resonates with the audience but also leaves a lasting impact? Looking at ads that have run since 2022 began, I can tell which ones left their creative teams pulling their hair out and which ones gave them the reassurance that the all-nighters and the constant pressure were worth it. I can also reassure you that compelling stories trump everything else when it comes to making a good ad. Don’t believe me? Here is where I build my case.
Brand: Amreli Steels
Campaign: 50 Years Solid
Message: Building solid bonds and buildings since the past 50 years.
Effectiveness: If anyone asks what a good ad looks like, show them this one. It not only sets the bar, it creates new norms in terms of time constraints and relatable ideas. This ad is a reminder that if you have belief and heft in your story, audiences will watch it irrespective of how long it is. This ad is about how our lifestyles have distanced us from the concept of neighbourhoods – and the love, bonds and support that came with them. As a result, today, we are not even sure what our neighbour’s name is. The heart-warming execution and brilliant storytelling were a reminder of what neighbourhoods truly mean. The brand integration is seamless and I don’t think anyone cared about how long the ad was. This is the sort of ad that most creatives would have loved to be a part of.
Verdict: Full points to the storytelling and execution. Simple yet effective communication.
Brand: Shan Foods
Agency: BBDO Pakistan
Message: Seventy-seven percent of women doctors in Pakistan do not practice medicine after completing their degree.
Effectiveness: Well-researched and thought out. Society plays a major role in shaping a woman’s future. This welcome initiative to encourage mothers-in-law to let their daughters-in-law pursue their dreams and not be restricted to the kitchen (backed by strong statistics), was just the sort of story we need to move further as a progressive nation and embrace equality. However, the story had potentially more to offer. Why have time limitations started playing such an important role in compromising compelling storylines? I am still on a quest for the answer.
Verdict: A heart-warming and eye-opening thought has brought you the marks. But let the story have more essence.
Brand: Hilal Freshup
Agency: MullenLowe Rauf Group
Message: Another way of saying “Life mein freshness aanay do.”
Effectiveness: Hilal Freshup positions itself as the icebreaker in any sticky situation because it adds freshness to life thanks to the centre-filled gum. This ad was anything but fresh. We see a lot of brands relying on rap songs as the main form of communication in order to find a place in the hearts of the newly loved target audience, Gen Z. However, trying to be relevant does not always mean being effective. From the lyrics and the beat to the execution, nothing was well thought out. And who thought Shahveer Jafry could sing this jingle?
Verdict: Jingles may be the most effective form of execution in Pakistan, but this was a miss.
Agency: IAL Saatchi & Saatchi
Message: There is a little child in all of us, waiting to be let out.
Effectiveness: A strong insight but an unsatisfactory execution. The thought process is spot on; especially post Covid-19 and the lockdowns when children and their parents had to spend too much time together. The story lacks depth… we could have seen more scenarios of the father telling the child “aisay nahi kartay” followed by the product tail. An example of how duration wins over compelling stories.
Verdict: Let agencies think, work and execute their way.
Agency: JWT|GREY Pakistan
Campaign: Apni Marzi Chala
Message: You’ve got the power of the internet in your hands.
Effectiveness: Surprise, surprise! Another rap song. Although the message was clear that it had something to do with Ufone 4G, what confused me was whether this was about the speed of Ufone 4G, or a data bundle offer. I understand Gen Z is ‘woke’, independent and likes to live life their own way, but surely there could have been another way to communicate this? All I could see was a bunch of pretty faces, a somewhat catchy jingle and no real insight behind the execution. Oh well, at least the jingle was catchy.
Verdict: There is a whole lot more to Gen Z than rap songs. Maybe bring back the ol’ Ufone quirk?
Muhammad Noor Sohail is Creative Group Head,