Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Campaigning During a Crisis

This year’s Independence Day campaigns are like compasses directing us through the rough seas of our nation's challenges.
Updated 15 Aug, 2023 05:32pm

Amidst the stormy sea of political uncertainty and economic challenges, this year Pakistan's 76th Independence Day campaigns emerged like beacons in the night. At a time when our national spirit seems to have hit rock-bottom, a handful of brands bravely stepped forward to share their stories, while the more regular ones chose to take a step back. Were they daunted by the task of finding the right words and narrative in such gloomy times? Perhaps.

Habib Metro took us on a thought-provoking journey, comparing life to a glass that can be seen as either half full or half empty. Putting history and today's reality side by side, the storyline recognised the ‘silent’ migration of Pakistan’s talented youth that is seeking greener pastures, and the need to hold on to hope and optimism. While ads are not meant to address tangled challenges, they can seem to be papering over real problems. Like sprinkling fairy dust when the nation needs concrete solutions. Kind of the reason why many brands avoided putting out Independence Day campaigns.

The Jam-e-Shirin campaign tried to shift gears to something lighter by injecting a burst of colour in a gloomy landscape. College students decked out in green, are shown enjoying themselves and Jam-e-Shirin. In the midst of the prevailing low morale, this approach might appear somewhat disconnected from the gravity of the challenges Pakistan is facing. A bit like munching on candy during a serious meeting. Sure, it's a brief escape from the tough stuff, but it might not fully resonate with the current sentiment.

And then there was Daraz’s ‘Home & Living *Azadi* Sale’. The brand went all creative, giving life to lifeless furniture and home products that are shown chatting while left unsold in a brick-and-mortar outlet after the shop is shut. The products go on to give their take on inflation by cheering (protesting?) *"Azadi, azadi!"* and star Sajal Ali walks in to urge us to shop to fight inflation…. hmm. High marks for creativity here – not so sure about the proposed strategy to counter inflation.

On to Toyota’s ‘*Tera Pakistan Mera Pakistan*‘ TVC. Picture this: a road trip across Pakistan, youngsters grooving to *Tera Pakistan Mera Pakistan* with an added rap twist. The rap bits touched on the country’s present struggles. Full marks for trying Toyota, but not sure which beat connects with our hearts in these tough times.

BankIslami put on an educational hat for its *‘Tarana Dua Rakhna’* campaign in which they decoded the meaning of Pakistan’s national anthem. The Persian verses that often evade common understanding are unveiled line by line. A symphony of diverse voices, spanning various walks of life, decipher the anthem's verses. There is potential, but it's like unravelling a puzzle – it remains to be seen how it resonates with Pakistanis in these vulnerable times.

Lastly, there was the Sufi Group’s Independence Day Anthem. Instead of a campaign, Sufi chose to release a national song, celebrating our diverse land. À la Habib Metro’s TVC, the music video refers to Iqbal's famous line *"Zara nam ho toh yeh mitti bohot zarkhaiz hai"* and leaves a 'been there, done that' feeling. But let’s not forget, these anthems can still tug at our hearts, especially when spirits are low.

This year’s Independence Day campaigns are like compasses guiding us through the rough seas of our nation's challenges. Do they resonate with us – a people facing seemingly unsurmountable hurdles? Can they give us a moment of relief, a spark of unity, or even a glimmer of a solution? It's a tough journey, but one worth taking. Thanks to all the brave brands who stepped up this year.