Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Talking Heads 2023

Aurora polls Pakistan’s corporate heads.
Updated 16 Feb, 2024 11:42am

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

1 What has been the greatest achievement of the advertising industry?
2 The greatest failure?
3 The three brand innovations that have had the most impact in changing people’s lives?

Here’s what the corporate heads had to say:

Hussain I. Agha
CEO, Agha Steel Industries

1 Creating powerful narratives that resonate with audiences, building brand identity and loyalty, as exemplified by our successful ‘Asal steel’ campaign with Anwar Maqsood.

2 When advertising lacks authenticity, fails to connect with the target audience, or misrepresents the product or brand, leading to a loss of trust and credibility.

3 Digital platforms for transforming communication. Eco-friendly technologies for enhancing sustainability. Personalised services for catering to individual needs.

Urooj Ahmed
Head of Marketing, Alkaram Studios

1 Breaking away from TV-first campaigns and transitioning into digital-first comms. Building brands that have scaled purely through digital mediums and are not dependent on mass-scale mediums.

2 Making large budgets a prerequisite for delivering quality work or a successful campaign, while neglecting smaller, effective mediums that are used smartly globally to generate maximum value. Mismanaging budget allocations between production and dissemination.

3 Careem, Foodpanda and inDrive have revolutionised Pakistani lifestyles. Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify for shattering stereotypes and fostering a global mindset which impacted every aspect of consumer preferences and behaviour. Services such as Easypaisa and SadaPay have enhanced financial agility, empowering the unbanked population with mobile wallets and digital solutions.

Hasan Saeed Akbar
Head of Marketing and Communications, JS Bank

1 The integration of brands with cultural elements such as music. For example, Nescafé Basement merges brand promotion by showcasing local musical talent and exemplifies how brands can transcend traditional advertising and weave themselves into Pakistan’s cultural and artistic tapestry.

2 Content. We are still reliant on the same concepts and material as in the past years rather than innovating and exploring new directions like India has done. This has killed creativity.

3 The introduction of AI in personalised advertising has transformed consumer engagement in Pakistan. Initiatives like Easypaisa have revolutionised mobile marketing, expanding financial inclusion. The integration of digital strategies in CSR activities has reinforced corporate responsibility in making a tangible social impact.

Farrukh Amin
CEO, Unity Foods

1 The transformation of the industry and its shift towards leveraging the power of social media, online platforms and influencer marketing, thereby enabling brands to connect with relevant audiences.

2 To increase the ‘risk appetite’ when it comes to creativity. The industry is still churning out stereotypes, objectification and following cookie-cutter solutions.

3 Sunridge’s fortified products addressed the malnutrition crisis. Spotify’s Radar feature for supporting emerging music talent and giving local artists a global platform. TikTok’s short-form video content that allows creative self-expression and democratised content creation.

Syed Waqas Azhar
Director Marketing, Foodpanda Pakistan

1 Brands have been able to develop a strong trust with quality and communication. It is heartening to see local brands stand out with effective marketing and influencer engagement strategies. We have improved the marketing and advertising game to come up to par with foreign brands.

2 More improvement in TV advertising processes. TV comprises the biggest advertising spend but we lack scientific, quantifiable GRP calculations. I would want to see comprehensive standards in place for advertisers and brands in terms of the quality of content and airtime. Content airtime is dominated by ad breaks, resulting in a lack of engagement from the target demographics.

3 Innovative and tech-driven services like Daraz, Foodpanda and Bykea have transformed lives for the better across Pakistan. Fintech has changed the banking landscape with Easypaisa and JazzCash driving financial inclusion.

Ghazanfar Azzam
President & CEO, Mobilink Bank

1 The ad industry shapes culture and builds global brands. In microfinance, advertising raises awareness by promoting the positive impact of financial inclusion. The digital revolution in advertising is commendable.

2 Inadequate representation of marginalised communities in terms of meaningful stories and the perpetuation of stereotypes hinder positive change.

3 Fintech solutions like Mobilink Bank’s Dost App, mobile wallets and online remittance services have transformed lives by democratising access and reshaping financial landscapes.

Fauziah Ali Banuri
Divisional Head, Marketing & Product Development, Bank of Khyber

1 Successful digital transformation, leveraging social media and internet platforms to reach a broader and more diverse audience effectively.

2 Lack of regulatory compliance and ethical standards, often leading to misleading advertisements and a lack of diverse representation. This has sometimes resulted in public mistrust in maintaining brand credibility.

3 Smartphones have revolutionised communication, information access and daily life management. Electric cars have altered transportation, reduced emissions and fostered sustainable energy usage. E-commerce has transformed shopping, providing convenience and global market access.

Hamayoun Bashir
Marketing Director, Haier Pakistan

1 It has taken a great upward trajectory. Modern communication is based on realism and showing a better life to Pakistani audiences. Advertising is focused towards solution-oriented approaches aimed to improve life.

2 Inability to generate messages that help in nation-building or impart a strong moral message. Selling commodities rather than building a brand experience.

3 The iPhone revolutionised the way people communicate, work and access information. Google’s search engine changed how people find information. Tesla’s innovative approach has impacted the automotive industry and sustainability efforts. They have popularised electric cars as well as redefined the standards for performance, range and technology in the automobile sector.

Hanif Bilwani
CEO, Bonanza Satrangi

1 The fusion of data and technology which has empowered us to craft advertising experiences tailored to individuals, making them more meaningful and appealing to consumers.

2 When advertising abandons authenticity and turns to misleading tactics that erode the trust between brands and consumers.

3 E-commerce has revolutionised shopping convenience. Social media has transformed communication and brand-consumer engagement. Streaming services have redefined how we consume entertainment.

Maha Haider
Head of Brand and Corporate Communications, State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan

1 The shift from traditional forms of advertising to digital platforms has been transformative. The ability to target specific audiences, measure campaign effectiveness in real-time and engage with consumers through digital channels has revolutionised the industry.

2 The digital age has seen concerns about the spread of false or misleading information, as well as promoting a culture of overconsumption and materialism. This has implications for customer discourse, trust and the impact on people’s well-being.

3 Bykea revolutionised transportation and logistics. Jazz as Pakistan’s largest digital wallet offering Super 4G, JazzCash and more. TCS by becoming Pakistan’s logistics backbone through technology.

Emmad Khan
Marketing Lead, Daraz Pakistan

1 Making a timely pivot towards new-age communication and marketing to appeal to Gen Z and staying relevant. Shifting the focus on communicating the brand promise rather than brand features. Our local advertising has given people an aspirational value that has elevated their lifestyles.

2 To create leaders who can counsel brands and act as equal partners. Lack of an association that can assist in providing transparency on business practices/costing which forces brands to outsource to global agencies. Jumping on buzzwords/trends to stay relevant without adding any substance ends up making brands appear borderline cringe.

3 Coke Studio for developing an entire brand of its own and putting countless musicians on the global stage. Daraz 11.11 for building the seasonality of shopping during a period that was considered a dry spell in Pakistan due to the lack of any cultural moments. HBL for putting a hefty investment behind PSL that had no precedent and ended up becoming a household phenomenon.

Saad Khan
Senior Director & Franchise Lead, PepsiCo International Pakistan & Afghanistan

1 Moving away from celebrity-based ads to insight-based creatives and ads.

2 Inability to keep up with the global shift to digital creative and media transition.

3 Sting energy drink. Khaadi. Recycled plastic induction in beverages.

Sultan Sarfraz Khan
Head of Sales & Marketing, Fauji Cereals Pakistan

1 Pakistan’s ad industry is leaping forward to its maturity stage. It is distinct in storytelling and yet culturally aligned with the values of a society. A big win.

2 To achieve significant international standing for creating a global brand.

3 Shan by providing consumers with the choice of a large range of savoury recipes. Fauji Cereals for bringing convenience and healthy alternatives to the traditional breakfast table. Easypaisa for changing the banking landscape and creating vastly accessible and user-friendly mobile banking.

Taha Khan
Digital & Media Lead, Asia, Middle East & Africa Region, Upfield

1 Leveraging digital platforms to reach diverse audiences, enhancing brand visibility and driving targeted consumer engagement. We have seen multiple brands successfully transition to digital.

2 Cultural insensitivity, whereby campaigns overlooked or misunderstood local values, or were unable to find insights based on Pakistani culture and norms.

3 The introduction of mobile banking apps (HBL, Bank Alfalah, SCB etc.). E-commerce platforms facilitating convenient online shopping (Daraz, Telemart). Telecom companies revolutionising communication with affordable and accessible connectivity solutions.

Saher Mangi
Chief of Staff & Head of Communications, Arif Habib Corporation

1 Embracing our ‘Pakistaniat.’ We have successfully portrayed a narrative that diverges from the conventional media portrayal of Pakistan and offered the world a window into our rich culture and values. Brands like Tapal, Rooh Afza, Coke Studio and Khaadi have played a pivotal role in showcasing the essence of Pakistan, transcending boundaries and fostering a connection with audiences worldwide.

2 Not breaking the mould, but opting for the familiar. When a successful idea emerges, it spawns many replicas, blurring uniqueness. We could have broken the creative boundary many times but have been unable to do so. In our pursuit to sound ‘woke’ and ‘cool’, we have messed with language too much, making it sound ‘uncool.’

3 Bykea. JazzCash. Easypaisa. Daraz (for consumers but most importantly for sellers).

Saadi Mansuri
Head of Marketing, Philip Morris Pakistan

1 To have evolved from nothing into a multi-billion-dollar industry over 70 years, mainly through private investments and with a few passionate trailblazers.

2 Not having equity at a global level that matches the talent and creative prowess we have.

3 Careem transformed urban navigation and became a household verb. Foodpanda; my mother-in-law uses it to order dhaniya – what more could one ask for? PSL was a rebrand revolution for Pakistani cricket at a time when the doors to international cricket were closed to us.

Zain Ashraf Mughal
MD, Super Asia Group

1 The industry’s ability to influence consumer behaviour on a massive scale. Advertising has evolved tremendously, shaping perceptions, driving purchasing decisions and impacting cultural norms. Additionally, the adaptation to digital platforms and the personalisation of advertising through data analytics have revolutionised the way brands reach and engage with their target audiences.

2 Perpetuating harmful stereotypes or promoting unrealistic ideals. Advertising has been criticised for reinforcing gender roles, racial biases or promoting unattainable beauty standards, all of which have adverse effects on society by shaping unrealistic expectations or creating divisions. Advertising has sometimes been accused of misleading consumers, leading to distrust in brands or products. Instances of false claims, deceptive marketing tactics, or exploiting vulnerabilities to sell products have undermined the credibility of the industry.

3 Airbnb disrupted the hospitality industry and changed the way people find accommodation, providing unique and more affordable options compared to traditional hotels. YouTube revolutionised online video sharing, making user-generated content widely accessible. It transformed how people consume video content, providing a platform for creators to share their work globally. Netflix changed the entertainment industry by popularising streaming services and changing the way people consume TV shows and movies. It invested heavily in original content, changing the dynamics of content creation, challenging traditional media outlets and influencing how entertainment is produced and consumed globally.

Qawi Naseer
Country MD, L’Oréal Pakistan

1 The pivot from traditional media to digital media, enabling precise targeting and personalised campaigns, resulting in wider and more engaged audiences.

2 The influx of intrusive and irrelevant ads across all platforms, leading to ad fatigue and eroding brand trust and hindering the industry’s overall effectiveness.

3 Personalised skincare routines, sustainable packaging solutions and augmented reality try-on experiences. They have revolutionised consumers’ well-being and their awareness of sustainable choices.

Rifah Qadri
Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Easypaisa/Telenor Microfinance Bank

1 Successfully navigating through an economically and politically volatile environment. Despite shrinking budgets and a strong emphasis on profitability, the industry has generated quality work that accommodates various budgets and meets the needs of different brands.

2 Branding and creative endeavours often fall short in showcasing genuine creativity. There is a scarcity of campaigns that are planned and driven by a clear purpose. Instead, most of the work tends to be conventional, resembling more of a box-ticking exercise rather than a thoughtfully crafted and meaningful campaign.

3 Digital wallets and fintechs. The ability to do all our financial transactions through a mobile phone has changed the financial industry completely.

Usman Qaiser
Head of Marketing and Brand Management, Jubilee Insurance

1 Adaptation to digital marketing and the use of data-driven approaches, allowing for more precise targeting and personalised messaging, enhancing campaign effectiveness.

2 Understanding innovation versus disruption is vital. Innovation is an incremental improvement within existing frameworks, while disruption involves radical change, often without relying on past practices.

3 Foodpanda for changing lifestyles. TriFit for revolutionising fitness. Spotify for the Gen Z music experience. Jubilee Life’s micro-insurance for essential health coverage.

Muhammad Raza
Senior Marketing Manager, Seasons Canola

1 For pivoting to facts and data-driven information. Creativity, cultural norms and innovation, along with connecting worldwide communities.

2 Repetition of ideas; unknowingly following stereotypes which are far from the realities of life.

3 Shan Foods for diversifying the cooking experience globally. Foodpanda for providing a new platform for food deliveries nationwide. Google for transforming access to information.

Mohammed Adil Sami
Executive VP & Head of Marketing, Meezan Bank

1 For significantly contributing to social and cultural shifts, fostering awareness, promoting talent, effectively providing ideas and driving marketing channels.

2 Perpetuating stereotypes, promoting unrealistic standards, lacking cultural sensitivity and failing to promote brand Pakistan.

3 Meezan Bank for creating a segment in the banking industry that today has a share of almost 22%. Easypaisa for creating a digital financial service provider. TCS for providing efficient courier and logistics services across Pakistan.

Sania Sattar
GM, Corporate Communications & Sustainability, FrieslandCampina Engro Pakistan

1 Promoting new entrants in the market thereby improving standards, enabling healthy competition and bolstering the notion of free markets.

2 To innovate on its models and mechanisms to benefit end users (people).

3 Technology is the tool that enables impact at scale. Apple’s app store was an arguably more significant innovation than the iPhone. WhatsApp for its outsized impact on the lives of billions. YouTube for the sheer change it facilitated through content that allows anyone to learn anything and for financially empowering content creators.

Muhammad Shahid
GM, Marketing & Sales, Waves Pakistan

1 Digital transformation. E-commerce integration. Engaging the young. Global collaboration.

2 Creative approach has been missing and advertisers have mostly opted for hard selling. Advertising has evolved in our competitors’ market where new techniques have been adopted and big ideas developed for brands in accordance with their positioning and guidelines. Yet to see such ideology in advertising here.

3 Audi for being a pioneer in sustainable transportation through innovation. Apple for creating an irresistible technological lifestyle. Google for giving social power through information access.

Ibrahim Shaukat
CEO & Partner, Dari Mooch

1 The marriage of advanced data analytics with the creative process and targeted marketing.

2 Losing the trust of the people it is advertising to.

3 Apple for changing the way we communicate. Amazon for revolutionising shopping. YouTube and Netflix for changing the way we view entertainment.

Taimur Tajik
Creative Head, Interwood

1 Evolving from a purely functional selling tool to acting with purpose – bringing attention to important social issues and mobilising audiences to enact meaningful and tangible change.

2 Interrupting rather than integrating. Instead of becoming part of what audiences like, most advertising still just disturbs the viewer, ruining entertainment platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

3 Not much to choose from.

Tyrone Tellis
Senior Manager, Corporate Sales and PR, Bogo

1 The emergence of more non-TV media such as digital and OOH.

2 The inability to properly measure TV, radio and other media, while focusing on digital measurement.

3 Not really impact, but I would say reality shows, brand activations and smaller SKUs.