Published in Nov-Dec 2022
Post Covid-19, Pakistan’s ad industry can be defined in one word: inconsistent. Shuffling through TV channels you find a fresh, crisp ad that leaves a lasting impact, only to then be presented with yet another lazy TVC sequence with the same boring insights and creatives that we have seen over the past decade. As much as production quality has improved, creativity has not caught up. Despite this, ad agencies have upped their game and we do see campaigns from time to time that are bang on the money. Here are my two cents on some of the ad campaigns released in the last couple of months.
Campaign: Sunehra rung, har cup main!
Message: The only colour that matters in a Pakistani household is a bahu’s skin tone… or is it?
Effectiveness: First look? I thought this was another ad where they try to ‘nail’ the job with lazy satirical commentary on South Asian affairs. Ten seconds into the TVC, it reminded me of the ‘good bahu = good food’ Laziza Kheer ad and thought to myself “Aaj to in ka imtehaan hai.” But Supreme aced the imtehaan. It was both heart-warming and amusing to see that the context behind “Dadi ko rang pasand agaya!” was about the colour of the tea, rather than a woman. That too with an ever-so-cosy transition from the brand’s message of “Yehi to hai wo apna pann” to the introduction of a new Supreme tea with its golden colour. Brownie points to the production team, and watch out before this jingle is ‘sampled’ by a certain South Asian film industry…
Verdict: Even the worst of ideas can become world-class if the execution is pulled off in style, and JWT|GREY does that – a rather ubiquitous idea executed to near perfection.
Agency: Adcom Leo Burnett
Campaign: Storm into the future
Message: The future is here with StormFiber’s 100% fibre-optic network.
Effectiveness: If someone rang my doorbell in the middle of the day and identified themselves as the ‘future’, I would probably think it was the Tablighi jamaat. But I am not Faysal Quraishi and hence at this door, it was someone futuristic, a humanoid robot. The robot got cosy pretty quickly and effortlessly changed the network devices of the household, making everyone happy. The TVC ticks all the boxes for a solid ad, mostly because of the celebrity appearances, maybe even including Quraishi’s cameo. However, the best work for the campaign has been done by the PR team. Praise for the ad was all over the internet, from blogs to Twitter, and I honestly don’t get why. It was a good, solid campaign, but I assure you it is not going to be a talking point at the next Cannes Lions.
Verdict: An excellent ad with seamless and dynamic camera work, but the PR team takes the cake for the way this ad was praised all over the web.
Brand: Zeera Plus
Campaign: Har chai ka plus!
Message: Zeera Plus goes with the tea preferences of Gen X and Gen Z alike.
Effectiveness: Beautiful. 10/10. This is all it takes for me to tell you how good this ad is. This beautifully scored audio and visual treat feels like an old, timeless relic of your grandparents’ that you pick up from the living room shelf on a monsoon day, only to blow the dust off and put back so as not to damage it. A unique, insightful idea topped off by the lovely ensemble of Arshad Mahmood, Samina Ahmad and Khaled Anam, and brilliant execution. Listen up advertisers; this is how you connect to Gen Z in a way that does not involve neon lights, rap music, or both.
Verdict: LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!
Brand: Mobil Oil
Agency: Manhattan Communications
Campaign: Engine Jawaan
Message: If you want to keep your car engine robust and everlasting, Mobil Oil is the engine oil to ask for.
Effectiveness: Why are transportation and agricultural ads in Pakistan all the same? Apart from PSO killing the game last year with their Independence Day campaign, it has been a while since I have seen an ad in this segment and thought “Wow!”; Maybe we owe it to the old-fashioned cultures of these industries – add to it tight budgets and you are going to come up with a brand that is always going to play it safe. The ad ticked all the boxes but that is all it did. Nothing more, nothing less.
Verdict: Meh! Safe positioning, safe creative, safe execution.
Agency: MAQ Communications
Message: Bata Sneaker Fest ‘22 has more shoe designs than any young rebel might ever need.
Effectiveness: A breath of fresh air – if the fresh air in question was sampled from the silencer of an old diesel car in the bleak Lahori winter when smog engulfs the city. Honestly though, what has gone wrong with our ad industry when it comes to ads targeted at youngsters? There surely are better insights to target Gen Z other than the lazy approach of neon lights, rap songs and choreographed sequences with flashy camera work. And this is not just a single ad, it is one sample from the current epidemic of the worn-out Gen Z campaigns – the same choreographed musical formula with 100 iterations for 100 brands.
Verdict: There is more to Gen Z than flashy songs and music sequences. Please!
Sarmad Iqbal is a content associate.