Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Talking Heads 2022

Aurora polls Pakistan’s agency heads.
Published 11 Feb, 2023 08:38am

Aurora asked Pakistan’s leading advertising and corporate heads to answer four questions:

1. Name the two Pakistani brands you consider the most iconic and why.

2. Name two Pakistani brands that could potentially be new icons in the future.

3. In your opinion, which three words best sum up what is most distinctive about Pakistani advertising?

4. In what ways do marketing communication strategies have to change to resonate with Gen Z?

Syed Hassan Abbas
Founder and CEO, Golden Circle Advertising

1 Tapal: The messaging beautifully captures the heart of Pakistani society. It depicts the emotions, sentimental value and brand usage. It hammers the brand in the consumer and generates the call to action in an emotional way. Dalda: The brand is true to its foundations, legacy and brand positioning. The recent communication is relevant, unique in execution style and emotional. It brings forward the institution of motherhood.

2 Stylo shoes has the potential to be a champion for women with its visionary approach to brand building under the umbrella of #girlsstandtall. Fauji Cereals is bringing international quality cereals to enrich breakfast tables across Pakistan as a true proud brand aimed at bringing wellness and goodwill.

3 Pakistani advertising is characterised by three things. An evolutionary approach as opposed to revolutionary, respect for values and culture, and belief and faith.

4 Targeting Gen Z requires a sharp-witted and intelligent approach which is clutter breaking, light-hearted and to the point.

Numan Nabi Ahmed
CEO, The Brand Partnership

1 Rose Petal: It has changed lifestyles over the last 25 years. Created huge awareness about hygienic living which impacted other spheres of life and helped build brands on the same lines. National Foods: Gave new meaning to convenience in food. Created awareness of using packaged and hygienic masalas.

2 Over the last 35 years, consumerism has taken root in Pakistan and multinationals have penetrated the market by buying a few leading local brands, hence the creation of iconic local brands is tougher. However, I feel that the following brands can become iconic if they expand their portfolio and keep pace with changing times: Tapal is already iconic but needs to maintain its position. Peek Freans is also iconic and its continuous sub-branding is a success story. Vital Tea has to look at its future portfolio but has the potential to be iconic. Khaadi is a brand of the future.

3 Growth in a tough environment. The industry has shown tremendous improvement over the past decades despite a lack of quality institutions helping new talent to join it. Client pressures and financial models are not very encouraging but still the passion among ad people has helped things improve in every sphere of business.

4 A transformation can be seen in the concepts and execution of campaigns which have started to focus on Gen Z.

Muhammad Azfar Ahsan
Founder & CEO, Nutshell Communications

1 Sooper has managed to cut across all SECs with consumer insight and a uniquely Pakistani sentiment. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as a brand, has taught marketers the power of engagement, activism and the effective usage of media.

2 Khaadi has innovated from fashion and convenience to lifestyle and culture. TCS, synonymous with courier services is Pakistan’s pride. Forty years on years and a new leadership in place, I see more success ahead for them.

3 Pakistani advertising needs to value its individuality. Family values, culture and sports play a major role in our advertising messages.

4 Strategies need to be innovative, creative, fluid, and most importantly, relevant. Simplicity combined with creativity will work best.

Shahnoor Ahmed
Chairman & CEO, Spectrum VMLY&R

1 Lemon Max and Bonus Tristar: Two home-grown brands that have stood the test of time and are category/market leaders. Bonus Tristar makes the mundane into fun and is culturally unique, standing out at all times.

2 Bykea: Has evolved to become a leading on-demand service by engaging customers through its app. Johnny & Jugnu: This Lahore-based burger company has struck gold in connecting to a loyal following. This is a David vs Goliath story that is yet to unfold.

3 Rising to new challenges. Resilience. Discovery of new talent all the time.

4 Gen Z’s buying decisions are more socially conscious than previous generations. Brands need to align actions with the values they aspire, to really connect with this audience.

Gulzar Ali
Managing Director/CEO, Adarts Karachi

1 Hamdard Pakistan’s Roof Afza relished by millions at home and abroad is the most iconic indigenous brand. Popular in a particular consumer segment, Tibet Snow is also an iconic brand of Pakistan.

2 Shan with its recipe mix range, Johar Joshanda and Tapal Danedar can be potential iconic brands.

3 Advertising in Pakistan is creative, persuasive and compatible. It is mostly in English and Urdu, which requires extraordinary creative skills to effectively convey the message in both languages.

4 The interest, emotions and lifestyle of Gen Z demand that marketing and communication should explore new dimensions of creativity to resonate with the changing needs and trends they are exposed to through global communications.

Sheharyar Ali
CEO, Conglo

1 Pepsi: For penetrating into diverse platforms, connecting to varied consumers. Generation: Setting the tone for future discourse since forever.

2 Peshawar Zalmi and Eggbox.

3 Formula-based, superficial, and immense potential.

4 Get to know them personally, stop trying too hard and stop preaching.

Muneeza Amirali
Co-Founder, Kreative Sparks

1 HBL for its innovation and customer-driven strategy within the forefront of its target audience. Another iconic brand is Khaadi, for its expansion in multiple ventures.

2 InDriver and SadaPay.

3 Create, innovate and transform are three words that sum up the distinction of Pakistani advertising.

4 Traditional brands should have a presence on platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Collaboration with Influencers are a must for brands to increase WOM.

Muhammed Hassan Ansari
Executive Director, Argus Advertising & Dunwell Communications

1 Tapal and Shan: They have achieved the icon level because of their recognisability and consistency, which has led to their incredibly loyal following.

2 Khaadi and HBL: Both have a lot going for them. HBL seems to have picked a strategic direction and is moving towards it. Khaadi needs to do the same.

3 Bandwagon, unsurprising, un-insightful. Sadly, it has become a repetitive landscape of ads with brands jumping on the trends bandwagon, failing to surprise or delight audiences and lacking market insights. The few ads that manage not to do this stand out immediately.

4 Short, crisp, eye-catching content. More visuals, less text, more videos, fewer pictures. Optimise everything for mobile consumption. Make your marketing interactive. Amplify what your brand believes in and what your values are. Invest in the community to show that the values are more than just words on a wall.

Dr Samia Babar
MD, Mediators

1 Khaadi and National Foods. They have done a phenomenal job of sustaining quality as well as being innovative.

2 Nimco and The Linen Company. Nimco because they have maintained quality while adding to their product line and The Linen Company with their smart advertising.

3 Wholesome. Emotional. Lots of jingles, so maybe musical.

4 We need snappier, shorter ads, a larger digital presence, colloquial language and a touch of intelligent (not slapstick) humour.

Mirza Ovais Hassan Ali Baig
CEO, Marksman Advertising

1 Khaadi and J. Khaadi started off with a single outlet in KDA about 20 years ago, and today they are a global success story. J. is another successful brand of Pakistan. Its global expansion and diversification into makeup and perfumes have set it apart from its competitors.

2 Daraz and Cheetay. Daraz is the local Amazon and has grown immensely over the last seven years. Cheetay is expanding into an on-demand delivery service for customers who want things in real-time.

3 The words that describe Pakistani advertising are emotional and consistent which in some cases is repetitive and trendy: the recent Pepsi Campaign.

4 The key to effective advertising for Gen Z is storytelling. Stories communicate messages in an emotional and impactful way. One needs to use technology to create data-driven campaigns in order to effectively resonate with Gen Z.

Sajeel Baloch
Head of Digital, Alliance Advertising & Marketing

1 Asim Jofa and Mohsin Navid Ranjha, with their exclusive designs.

2 Waniya and Ismail Farid clearly stand out.

3 Unconventional messages, light humour for added impact.

4 Give your brand a well-recognised face by working with Gen Z influencers on social media and find new ways to increase engagement.

Aamir Bari
CEO, Brand Developers & Brand Image

1 Rooh Afza (no negative communication, highest seller especially in the month of Ramzan among all categories of beverages including carbonated and non-carbonated). Dalda (The only brand which changed the mindset of the people about healthy oil based products.)

2 Savyour (A newly launched mobile application of online shopping which is a cluster market of all online shopping platforms and categories.) Rooh Afza Go (A newly launched carbonated energy drink which is caffeine free as it is the only tin-packed natural relaxing carbonated drink in the world vs an energy drink).

3 Emotional platforms in all Pakistani advertisements (whenever any brand comes up with an emotional communication, it has more consumer attraction). Copywriting (scripting the brand is a major pillar for Pakistani brands in advertisements e.g., “Ae Khuda Meray Abu Salamat Rahain.”) We are experts in the analysis of the basic communication pillars which depict the brand vs the target audience.

4 We need to teach Gen Z the difference between Connection vs Relationship which includes trust and feeling (we devise all communication that connects with people and doesn’t create relationships e.g., Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola). Information vs Knowledge (News, Google searches, and Facebook are all information based, we need to provide knowledge to Gen Z and the drawback of knowledge is the lack of research of brands as there are no riddling communications – teaser campaigns). Convenience vs Happiness (Convenience is killing socialising which eventually eradicates happiness but unfortunately, we are portraying that convenience as happiness which is not the case).

Aleem Durrani
Founder & CEO, Media Matters & Media Pulse

1 Tapal Danedar and EBM’s Sooper. They are industry giants with massive sales revenue as well as brand value.

2 There is great scope for local companies in the technology/fintech and gaming industries to establish a footing as there is currently a vacuum in the market.

3 Jingle-based. Celebrity-oriented. Kaleidoscopic. Song and dance routines are still popular with notable faces while staying mindful of cultural sensitivities.

4 Brands should adopt crisp and clear communication to capture attention with progressive/politically correct messaging to establish the connection. Use strong visual appeal and be available on several platforms.

Syed Amir Haleem
CEO, Skale Interactive

1 The two iconic Pakistani brands that immediately come to mind which have developed and held their market against powerful multinational forces are Tapal and Rooh Afza.

2 Dippit: Has come out of nowhere and is building a strong market share rapidly. By focusing on quality, they are winning the race to becoming an iconic brand in the near future. Bykea: Has already become a household name and beating the likes of Careem, Uber, Airlift and many others. They smartly built on a niche (bike based service only that others thought was not profitable) and used that to develop the market.

3 Evolving: We have some way to go before we are on par with the market. Lazy: While there is some good advertising out there, the majority of our ads are forgettable because of how lazily they are scripted. A survey one-month post-campaign will result in single digit recall figures if lucky. Un-relatable: Marketers took the concept of ‘inspirational’ advertising and ran with it. Even to this day, ads for the average consumer are based on upmarket sets, with characters and stories that are more Lollywood than real.

4 Build comms for engagement by being digital first. Ads are made for TV, a one-way communication medium, and then adapted to digital platforms built for engagement. This is why 90% of Pakistani campaigns find it difficult to get engagement. They cannot start a meaningful organic conversation. Gen Z is falling out of love with traditional TV.

Ammar Hamdani
CEO & Creative Director, KaroKonnect

1 Dalda: It has captured the essence of motherhood. Khaadi: Pakistan’s first genuine lifestyle brand.

2 Vital Tea: Social messaging as core brand value. Shan Foods, #OathForher: magnanimity in mother-in-law daughter-in-law dynamics – unlike damaging tropes.

3 Colourful, musical and emotional.

4 An openness to tougher topics, such as mental health. Humour, parody and user-generated content.

Faraz Maqsood Hamidi
Chief Creative Officer, The D’Hamidi Partnership

1 Habib Bank: A legacy brand with Pakistan at its core. Dalda: One of the longest-running taglines in history.

2 Shan Foods: Icon for global presence. Khaadi: Icon for experiential innovation.

3 The Urdu language.

4 We don’t sell. We talk to them. We design human conversations on digital networks. And we deliver socially responsible dialogues.

Jawad Humayun
Group Chairman & CEO, Channel 7

1 Ufone: Because of the innovative humour platform it brought to Pakistani advertising and making mobile a product for the public. Dawlance: The ‘Dawlance liya tho Baat Banee’ campaigns can be credited with making home appliances truly a home item. Before this, appliances fell into luxury items.

2 Shan: Because of the emotional connection it has developed with local and international audiences. Amreli Steel: Primarily, a brand which falls into metallurgy, its advertising has built a bond/ human connection with the people of Pakistan.

3 The ideals of the nation can be told through advertising. It is true to every aspect as far as Pakistani advertising is concerned, which can be summarised as transgenerational, emotionally connective and humane.

4 Making a connection with Gen Z is pivotal. More emphasis on credibility, maintaining their awareness and short messaging because of their extremely short retention spans are key.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
President & CEO, CMC

1 Jazz – huge market penetration and first-mover advantage as a GSM brand. Samsung is an iconic Pakistani brand, as the assembly plant is in Port Qasim. The advertising, communication, price point and products are for everyone. Shan is another iconic Pakistani brand. Its communication, positioning, availability and accessibility are impeccable.

2 Pakistan Super League (PSL) – It has given new hope to Pakistanis and made way for the re-entry of foreign teams in Pakistan. Bank Alfalah: Within the banking sector, Alfalah is growing at a rapid pace. It is doing everything to resonate with Millennials and Gen Z by providing superior customer service, deals, offers and customised services.

3 Stagnant (due to lack of innovation). Influenced (by the other advertising industries of different countries; for example, Japan and India). Unimaginative and uninventive (same ideas are repeated/less relatability).

4 Gen Z is more technologically savvy than previous generations. They are well-connected. They were born after the digital convergence and hence the communication has to be tailored so that it is 75% digital.

Faiza Iqtadar
Head of Digital & Creative, Starcrest Communications

1 Khaadi: It disrupted the national and international market in short span. Tapal: Kept the tradition of tea by telling the unique story of Pakistani culture.

2 Pakola: Because it can change the game in the category. Sooper: Can become super, if it adapts to the newness that is happening around globe.

3 Relevant, product focused, consistent.

4 Contextual, personalised, authentic, social media

Imran Irshad
CEO/Director, M&C Saatchi

1 Tapal and Engro Foods: They have risen as home-grown powerhouses.

2 Daraz and Zameen: They are home-grown brands that embrace global trends.

3 Pakistani advertising has largely lost its distinctiveness.

4 Communication with Gen Z will be all about meaningful connections rather than superficial tactics that sidestep ethical considerations and global trends.

Seema Jaffer
CEO, Bond Advertising

1 Rooh Afza: True eastern hospitality captured in a brand. It has an iconic bottle, the sugary red syrup conjures images of iftar, family get-togethers and hospitality. Rooh Afza is truly representative of an iconic Pakistani brand. Pakistan has created a truly iconic brand with Coke Studio. Home-grown and now replicated across the globe, it communicates across age and gender and continues to grow with each season and puts Pakistani music and culture on the map.

2 The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has transformed the way cricket is played and consumed in Pakistan. Franchises that pull in international players. Celebrity support. Sponsorships. A strong media component. The introduction of a Junior League. All make for a compelling brand that is sure to go places. Malala – A symbol of resistance. A global activist for girls’ education. Malala stands for girls’ rights and is an icon for the present and the future.

3 Culturally rooted, evolving and functional.

4 More authenticity. Less ad speak. More purpose driven. Less profit-driven. Brands have to change the way they engage with Gen Z. Creativity that is tech-driven and opens up new frontiers and virtual worlds will be key.

Omar Fazal Jamil
CEO, Latitude

1 For the longest time, Mitchell’s equalled confectionaries, jams, and sauces. When I think lawn, I think Gul Ahmed.

2 Daraz has become synonymous with online shopping. JazzCash changed the payments game.

3 Formulaic, dated, traditional.

4 Gen Z is a totally new ballgame and marketers must be 1 00% transparent and authentic in their communications strategies.

Anwar Kabir
CEO, Brand Spectrum

1 Surf Excel: Dirt is Good is a timeless brand proposition based on a universally powerful consumer insight. Coke Studio, for pioneering a unique platform and seamless fusion of multiple elements, ranging from art, culture and lifestyle that transcends boundaries and resonate with everyone across the globe

2 Shan: For tapping into the potential of the diaspora market, around the idea of food as a catalyst to bring people together. Tapal: For masterfully building on the nation’s love for tea and promoting brand love through that uniquely Pakistani insight.

3 Family. Togetherness. Joy.

4 Marketing needs to be more authentic and honest in tone. Brands need to have higher ideals as Gen Z prefers brands with a purpose. The focus should shift to digital-first experiences to form a better connection with digital natives.

Ahmad Kapadia
Chairman and CEO, Synergy Group

1 Pakistan’s most iconic figure will always be Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah for his sense of identity and noble values. It is a blessing that we don’t have expendable commodities to marvel at but superhuman people like Ghulam Ahmed Hussain Kapadia and Abdul Sattar Edhi to look up to.

2 Khaadi: With its new-age perspective on tradition is one eligible candidate. We are headed into the future of the cyber age where financial technology will hold the key to everyday solutions. Brands such as Raast and Roshan Digital have the potential to reach iconic status.

3 As soon as practitioners shift emphasis from form to content, we would be in a better position to judge our advertising in three words. For now, it’s all about waywardness and mediocrity with negligible hints of originality.

4 The industry must realise that it has to evolve with the lightning-fast Gen Z. This is not the time to grapple with old norms but to design new matrices, focus on insight and stay interactive. Consumer behaviour never ceases to change; the challenge is how creatively we can handle it.

Umair Kazi
Partner, Ishtehari

1 Atoms; a global footwear brand born in an Okara village, Daraz; a young titan with the potential to expand globally.

2 Coffee Wagera, because of their simple formula and charismatic founder. Netsol, if it starts treating itself like a brand and not just a business.

3 Tearjerker. Jingle. Overproduced.

4 Brands have to take/advocate their positions on pop culture. Leverage polarity, don’t fear it.

Adeeba Khan
CCO & Head of Strategy, Manhattan Communications

1 Tapal: From unbranded tea leaves sold in a small shop to becoming a leading national brand, marketing blends with communication that resonates with consumers. Johar Joshanda: Pioneering instant joshanda in a sachet, a cough/cold herbal solution with +/-95% share. It is a national common denominator, the go-to brand.

2 Shan: From traditional to popular dishes, Shan has made everyone an expert with easy-to-cook recipes wherever desis live. Imtiaz Supermarket: From a humble kiryana store to a chain of department stores, Imtiaz is becoming Pakistan’s Walmart, with affordability as its USP.

3 Functional, traditional and entertaining.

4 Direct selling does not resonate with Gen Z. They prefer content that feels educational and beneficial. Influencer marketing works best

Farhan Khan
CEO, Brainchild Communications

1 Coca Cola: Coke Studio has not only received global acclaim; it has revolutionised the music space in Pakistan. Khaadi: Has the distinction of being the first global textile brand from Pakistan. It has paved the way and set standards that players across the industry went on to replicate.

2 National Foods: With global consumption, agility in marketing, and a reputation as an exceptionally professional workplace, National Foods has the potential to be iconic. Easypaisa: A brand that initially revolutionised the financial space in Pakistan and then grew into a fintech product that cuts across class, culture and geography to offer users the convenience of a wide range of features and use cases.

3 Advertising in Pakistan is defined by elements of our culture that are rooted within the brand communication. The industry is dynamic and developing. The past 10 years have seen massive strides in advertising in tandem with increased internet penetration, tech savviness and foreign investment.

4 Gen Z cohorts are more passionate and informed than previous generations. With answers and content just a tap away on multiple screens, the communication today needs to be relevant, personalised and clutter-breaking. Taking risks and going beyond the conventional will be key in the years to come.

Muhammad Sarwar Khan
Director & CEO, IG Square Pakistan

1 Most iconic brands work in pairs and they go all out in proclaiming their leadership and authority over each other. Nike vs Reebok, Microsoft vs Apple, and Burger King vs McDonald’s are some global examples, and Pakistan is no exception. The best iconic battle has been Pepsi vs Coca-Cola in Pakistan. It has been a rollercoaster ride for both brands and what sets them apart is their commitment. They figure out what makes their consumers tick and they get it done; be it their communication or product offerings.

2 I had high hopes from Airlift but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. There is a lot of potential for tech brands like Daraz and Food Panda.

3 Inconsistent, insecure, average.

4 Our marketing approach to Gen z is often one-dimensional. They love to experiment, take risks and have a limited attention span and to target them effectively the communication strategies must reflect the multiscreen phenomenon; they are surrounded by devices and connect with them at a personal level. For them mass media does not exist.

Shahvaar Ali Khan
Founder & Chief Creative Director, Farigh Four

1 In a brand environment that has long relied on ‘imported’ culture, let me deliberate over three Pakistani brands, instead of two. Rooh Afza and Jam-e-Shireen are both home-grown (Rooh Afza is pre-independence) and iconically rooted in our soul. These red syrups have been part of Pakistani homes, kitchens, memories and childhood beyond mere advertising. They sneakily continue to exist in the nooks and crannies of our kitchens, whether we recognise, or own them, or not. They are always there waiting for us at home. Dalda: “Jahan Maamta, Wahan Dalda”’ is a genius slogan etched in our collective memory and continues to be relevant today. Technically this is a “Made in India and Pakistan” brand, since its inception is pre-Partition, but the Pakistani version is iconic due to the mother connection. When you think Dalda, you think Pakistani mothers, ma, mommy, mom, ammi, amma, valida. Your father remembers your dadi. You think of your mother and your child thinks of his/her mother (your wife). It will be interesting to see how this iconic brand negotiates changing gender stereotypes in the future.

2 #NayaPakistan: Before it became a political brand, it was an advertising slogan. Not because we coined and built this brand from scratch for our client PTI in 2011, but because I truly believe that regardless of the political divide, this brand has resonated with the young and has become a focal point of debate. Whether you are for or against Naya Pakistan, it will always remain part of popular culture. It’s way beyond a brand. PSL: Cricket is the adhesive that glues us together. PSL is truly home-grown and original and has tapped into a new generation of sports lovers. It’s not just a cricket brand, but ‘cricketainment’ and it will grow exponentially to proudly represent Pakistan on the global stage.

3 Finding its soul.

4 We need to catch them young. Pakistan has a youth bulge and one of the youngest countries in the world; hence, Gen Z’s provide huge potential. They are generally digital-centric, real, anti-advertising, cynical about brands and prefer content over TV commercials. We need a digital-first approach to resonate and catch them where they spend most of their time – the social media handles on their cell phone.

Aamir Khwaja
Group CEO, Mullenlowe Rauf Group

1 Dalda: So much more than a brand… a true cultural icon that has continued to stay relevant across generations, through continued innovation, and creating a singular and timeless consumer bond: “Jahan Mamta, Wahan Dalda”. Milkpak: Paving the way for future packaged/branded milk/dairy products, the brand has changed the way we think about a simple “commodity” by creating not only a brand but an entire category.

2 K-SOL: A brand of the moment as we focus on more renewable energy. Air Sial: A challenger brand that is gaining the airline of choice status among fliers, by not only keeping engaged with today’s consumers through an active social media presence but also for its efficiency and services.

3 We tend to be rather formal in our depiction of the worlds that we create; perfect art direction and styling, polite exchanges between characters and language that still evokes a sense of old-world conversations.

4 Gen-Z can sniff out insincerity and brand-speak better than most blood-hounds… show them you understand their values and passion. Stand for something that matters and has purpose… then follow it through with action.

Saleem Mahmood
CEO, The Passage PR

1 National Foods – Since its inception in 1970, the company has evolved into a leading multi-category food company that produces 250 different products across 13 categories. With a global footprint in 40 countries, K&N have excelled in poultry for over 55 years, with know how in every aspect of poultry production, ranging from breeding and feed milling to growing and processing and on to the production of premium chicken products. Today, the company has a global footprint in the UAE and USA. These companies are helping boost much-needed exports to narrow Pakistan’s growing current account deficit. These two companies have a purpose, a set of values, a unique selling point, and a powerful identity that speaks to their audiences and makes them iconic.

2 Developing countries like Pakistan manufacture products like ready-made garments for brand name companies like Adidas, Levi’s and Nike. These garments are sold at a huge mark-up in the US and only a tiny fraction of the money goes to Pakistan. Keeping this in view, brands like Khaadi and J. have the potential to grow and tap into the international market by expanding their product line.

3 With a few exceptions, I don’t think Pakistani ads are distinctive. Most of the campaigns are clichéd.

4 Gen Z makes informed choices hence marketing communications should not be functional, but value-oriented.

Jamal Mir
MD, Prestige Communications

1 Sooper: Because it retains both market share and share of mind in the confectionery industry – associated with high quality and memorable brand association and a trusted product. Tapal: A brand that emerged against an industry behemoth like Lipton – held its own, enhanced its market reach and became a national favourite by bringing in its innovative green tea selections.

2 Jubilee Life: A brand to watch out for in the financial insurance sector as it has built a strong leadership platform through robust digital offerings, engaging TVCs, and association with cricket. HBL Konnect is poised to be the go-to brand and financial enabler when it comes to banking via mobile and digital.

3 Localisation: The industry has been able to generate a number of inspiring local brand stories. Production: Many brand stories have been built around engaging TVCs with solid production values. Diversification: From being print driven to TV and now digital media.

4 Gen Z belongs to the age of the digital. The communication should be social media driven, with the emphasis on high engagement and maximum excitement, given limited attention spans. Marketing strategies have to be targeted, effective and meaningful. And be cognisant of Gen Z’s values of individuality, diversity and sustainability.

Salman Munawar
CEO, Firebolt63

1 Khaadi is one of the most iconic brands. It is the only local brand in Pakistan to have removed its brand name and is recognised by its symbol. Tapal turned itself into a brand to reckon with against giants like Lipton and Brooke Bond. Their R&D and phenomenal marketing campaigns make it an iconic brand.

2 Hico Ice Cream because of the way they have changed their overall brand communication strategy and invested wisely to build and uplift it as a youthful brand emphasising the USP of ‘pure dairy ice cream’. If they continue investing in marketing and advertising as well as infrastructure, the brand has huge potential. Livvel Food and Beverages Company recently introduced a wide range of carbonated and stimulant drinks as well as juices and have a number of products in the pipeline to be launched soon. No company in Pakistan has ever launched so many brands/products in FMCGs successfully in such a short span of time of six to seven months. The company is courageous, experimental and innovative.

3 Glamorous: More focused on the setting, celebrity and location but lacking in ideas. Oversimplified: Nothing is left to the imagination; everything is spelt out or sung out. Monotonous: One hit and we have a bandwagon on our hands with every brand following the same formula.

4 More insightful and research-based communication, so that they feel that the brand speaks their language. Apart from traditional media, brands should be bold, courageous and experimental by introducing new ways to communicate with and surprise them.

Samra Muslim
Chief Nut, Walnut Communications & CEO, Alchemists

1 EBM/Peek Freans for the iconic Pied Piper and Sooper. Shan; their masala mixes are a household staple worldwide. Khaadi – from hand-loomed outfits to becoming a wardrobe staple and a worldwide brand.

2 Currently loving the journey of the following: Lama and Bandana (in fashion), Bykea (tech) and Sunridge (food).

3 Music and how our ads work with it in jingles, anthems and songs that are very Pakistani.

4 Adapt communication to Gen Z’s primary screen – the mobile and social media. They are not just about rap music.

Raheel Nabi
Director & Chief Disruption Officer, Xenith PR

1 Shan is quintessentially iconic – it is one of Pakistan’s handful of “single room to world” success stories. Khaadi is another iconic brand – starting off from a one-store operation to a massive global footprint.

2 TCF has massive potential to become an iconic Pakistani brand. The Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation (ACF) Animal Rescue should become an icon in the near future.

3 Pakistani advertising can be repetitive, but can also be edgy or innovative.

4 Marketing and communications strategists need to listen to Gen Z more rather than speculating what that generation should be resonating with. What they need is often exactly the opposite of what we think they need. Time to listen more and say less.

Muhammad Noman
Head of Business Development & Client Services, Topline PR

1 Engro: They are value-driven, present in multiple sectors and have a clear vision about where they are heading. Net sol: They are performing extremely well.

2 Bykea: They are made in Pakistan, competed against international industry giants and are performing extremely well. ABC Juices: They produce the best juices without preservatives and additives.

3 Pakistani advertising it lacks creativity, although it is human, emotional and vibrant.

4 The future is digital and creative. We have to be smart and be present on the platforms they are using.

Mahmood Parekh
Chief Executive, MCM Advertising Group.

1 Tapal: Marketed its innovative products in a consistent and impressive manner to reach the targeted group. Shan Foods: Captured the domestic market and also reached out globally to become an icon masala product in the preparation of traditional eastern cuisine.

2 It is difficult to name two brands that could be future icons since it will depend on which one can withstand the cut-throat competition of maintaining quality, adding innovation in products and capturing the market.

3 The content and presentation of ad campaigns have to be fast, accurate and complete.

4 Gen Z are looking for variety in every aspect of life. They pick products that fulfil their desire and offers benefits. Marketing communication strategies have to match with their zooming frequency coupled with innovation in order to widen consumer base.

Shoaib Qureshy
MD, Bulls Eye

1 PIA and Rooh Afza. Wherever you are in the world, the moment you think of Pakistan, these two brands pop up in your mind.

2 None to be honest. Maybe a new brand in the future could do so.

3 Same old thing.

4 Marketing communication needs to be bolder, fresher and more creative, funny and insightful to resonate with Gen Z.

Umair Saeed
COO, Blitz

1 Rooh Afza is the most iconic Pakistani brand ever. It is an integral part of our culture and the identity of every Pakistani, wherever life takes them. J. (Junaid Jamshed) because of the way they paved the way for fashion in and from Pakistan.

2 Plenty, from Shan and Tapal to Khaadi. And then there is Manto, which is on its way to becoming perhaps the most iconic fashion brand in the country.

3 Imported. Safe. And then sometimes unpredictably awesome! Every now and then I see a glimmer of hope that one day I would start with the words “world-class.”

4 The strategies have not changed much, although a lot of marketers would like to believe that they have reinvented marketing through their amazing campaigns for Gen Z. A new medium or ad forma, and using a rap musician do not qualify as a strategy. The most successful marketing campaigns are still produced by nailing the fundamentals of marketing.

Humaira Saleem
CEO, The Zebra Issue

1 MoltyFoam: It has managed to keep to a consistent story for decades. Personally, I find the story regressive but it seemed to work for them and I’m glad they took a risk this year to change it. Khaadi rules hearts and credit cards with affordable, unpretentious relatability. Mahira Khan: Even to a person in advertising, Mahira Khan’s brand persona does not come across as curated, forced or strategic. The beauty of her brand lies in the effortless way two equally magnetic forces of glamour and girl-next-door charm come together.

2 Watch out for Poof, a small e-commerce acne products store that is going to become an icon. Simply because they have the most important piece right – the product. They don’t just speak trending catch phrases like most youth-centric brands; they speak their consumers’ language and are not afraid to talk about what hurts the consumer the most. MuzMatch: Their campaigns will probably be featured in coffee table books in a decade. (If coffee table books are still a thing.)

3 Trying too hard versus being authentic, forced trends driven messaging, not introspective.

4 Be authentic.

Khalid Saleem
CEO, RG Blue

1 Shan: It has elevated the convenience of home cooking to an emotional high that transcends geography. It unifies a whole subcontinent around common rituals that blur boundaries. Roof Afza: The quintessentially national brand has evolved beyond traditional consumption during Ramzan. Beginning with Times Square, New York, the brand has proudly introduced the red nectar spirit to multiple global audiences.

2 Zindigi: A purpose-built fintech app that simplifies life for Gen Z by design; sells without selling and co-creates the future with relevant audiences. Tapping into their signature short attention span, short and simple brand interactions are sure to help build an iconic, empowering brand. One that doesn’t stand in the way of Gen Z desires to excel. Engro: It has taken bold risks across multiple verticals. Their success has been phenomenal, and the brand can truly be considered the top employee of choice for future generations.

3 Our culture is defined by an intricate balance of words. The world recognises our poetic muscle and are inspired by our artistic, complex scripts. Relevant, current and nostalgic: All three combine like the holy trinity of advertising to depict our national culture.

4 Speak their language, understand their nuances, copy their mannerisms, guide and nurture them; this generation needs it the most. Pacing and then leading with example is the only way forward with younger generations’ attention deficit and rapidly declining attention spans.

Kamran Sarfaraz
CEO, Arey Wah

1 State Life and Don Carlos shoes due to their memorable soundtracks which resonated with the audience.

2 Kenwood and Amreli Steels because of their insightful content and emotional bonding with consumers.

3 It is quite superficial but hopefully it will evolve into something realistic and insightful.

4 We have to understand the demand for great content because our targeted audience has much more exposure and we have to reach them through unconventional touchpoints.

Abdul Qadir Shah
CE, Connect Marketing

1 Tapal: Because of its association with the people of Pakistan and the way it projects Pakistan’s culture in their communications. State Life Insurance: They have a strong legacy associated with them and their recent thematic “Aye Khuda Meray Abu” communication is resonating well with the public.

2 Khaadi: Their modern branding and clothing is distinctive and they talk to customers on every occasion rather than just selling products. Bykea: after their thematic communications where they created an anthem, they have connected well with their target audience creating an emotional bond.

3 Carrying the legacy. Pakistani brands have always been effective in building on their legacy and taking their communications forward with new insights.

4 Gen Z is the most tech-savvy generation and they need to be captured via social media tools; the communications should be honest and to the point.

Sajid Shamim
CEO, Repcom Advertising

1 Dalda: The Dalda positioning line, ‘Jahan Mamta, Wahan Dalda’, is catchy, memorable and delivers brand essence and connects emotionally with the target audience. Rooh Afza: The staple Ramzan red syrup still rules the minds and hearts of the people because of its vivid slogan, ‘Mashroob-e-Mashriq’ (Drink of the East) thus positioning itself as the beverage of choice.

2 J Dot (J.) Starting from men’s clothing, the brand now caters to women, teens and children. It has entered new product categories, such as fragrances, jewellery, make up, shoes and women’s accessories. It has a strong Islamic and eastern essence and created a strategic international presence. Shan: From spices and spice mixes to becoming an iconic culinary brand, Shan has become a global brand offering a premium quality innovative range of food products, primarily because of their commitment to quality.

3 Direct. Simple. Rational. Messages in Pakistani ads are focused towards directing the brand benefit and hence are more direct. Ads use simple language which does not confuse the audience. Finally, the ads do not have a creative over-claim and hence are logical.

4 To resonate with Gen Z, marketing communication strategies should adopt the following: Use disruptive visuals and videos. Create engaging interactions on social media. Sell through the ease of purchase processes. Use influencer marketing to spread the message. Innovate the use of mobile advertising. Update and refresh all information channels such as social media and websites.

Zohare Ali Shariff
CEO, Asiatic Public Relations Network (APR)

1 Shan, a popular household brand domestically and widely available internationally and Jubilee Life Insurance, for becoming the national leader in its field and leading innovation.

2 Foodpanda for quickly becoming part of everyday life for millions and Dr Essa Labs, for quickly establishing a wide network of branches for Covid testing.

3 No offence meant to our advertising industry, but most of our advertising is too hard-sell and in-your-face, with little creative or enigmatic storytelling.

4 As per most research, Gen Z needs communication that is honest and transparent, and that credibly establishes a company or brand’s ESG values in practice.

Danish Sohail
Head of Business Development, Message Communications

1 Shan and Ali Xeeshan for changing the mindset associated with such brands and bringing broader perspectives.

2 Unlike healthcare and steel industry brands, Evercare Hospital Lahore and Kamran Steel have adopted new approaches for communication to increase their impact.

3 Agile, fast and experimental. Learning and adapting, the approach to new formats and quickly identifying new opportunities to reach the target consumer.

4 Relevance is key! By focusing on simple things that serve the right purpose for the right audience, you can win the game.

Atiya Zaidi
MD & Executive Creative Director, BBDO Pakistan

1 Instead of brands, I would say the two most iconic products to come out of Pakistan are Pakola and Rooh Afza. It is ironic that both are still products and never focused much on brand building. A huge opportunity is there for both of them to work on the brand love and be relevant to the times.

2 Dipitt and Outfitters. Both brands have an excellent product range and cater to Pakistani tastes while reading the global market.

3 Safe, forgettable and not honest about the job to be done.

4 Gen Z is not easily impressed. Media tonnage alone will not get you their attention or love. They gravitate towards newer, bolder and obnoxious elements. The old-school ways of testing, creating and deploying content are outdated.