It may have been banned by PEMRA for obscenity but it doesn't do anything for the brand either.
We have all heard of the coffee hijack concept – the name given to the increasing popularity of coffee in traditional tea drinking countries, like India and Pakistan, for example. Well, two years ago, thanks to Josh condoms and Mathira we witnessed the media experience of the hijack. The brand team working on Josh created a TVC that pushed all the wrong buttons of a segment of our polarised society by opting for controversy and casting Mathira – who is well known for fanning the flames of rumours and scandal with her antics. The plan worked and PEMRA, responding to the uproar from a segment of society banned the TVC, thereby turning it into a sensation and a must watch.
Sadly we live in a voyeuristic society. People will crane their necks out of a bus window to stare at a traffic accident; they will crowd the bottom of a burning building, hindering the rescue operation. There seems to be a collective curiosity that needs to be satiated and Josh tapped into this. The media/society hijack worked because people went mad trying to check out the ad and see what was so obscene that it had to be banned.
Josh seems to be at it again. Their new TVC has apparently been banned by PEMRA. However this time the brand team, (the agency, is a different one), has been badly caught out. By trying the same trick again, they have in my view made a weak commercial.
Ab Josh se hogi bharpur masti kay sath bari bachat. Dekhiye Josh ka naya TV ad #Josh #MastRahoPosted by Josh on Tuesday, September 1, 2015
The ad has a very desi feel to it - the rickshaw driver, the bus driver, and the mohalla look. The attempt to use sexual innuendo was brave (chota pack, bara pack), yet instead of being humorous the TVC comes across as trying too hard; the crowd dancing around the bus driver is kind of an abrupt ending . Some elements seem farcical; for example the driver stopping his bus during a run to go to the store to pick up a pack of condoms – seems like stretching the imagination a bit too far. The first Josh ad was conceptually stronger (for lack of a better word). The current one appears illogical – and not in a humorous way. So did PEMRA overreact? Apparently the objectionable content was the hand gesture made by the characters. Was this a misinterpretation on PEMRA’s part?
Whatever the reality is, it is hard to picture this commercial creating the kind of buzz the Mathira one did. If the brand team was looking to tap our voyeuristic streak, they should have created a better concept or simply used another controversial celebrity. If they were actually aiming for humour, then they have insulted our national sensibilities, Pakistanis find plenty of stuff humorous – from the wit of Anwar Maqsood and Moin Akhter, Bushra Ansari to the somewhat low brow content of Umer Shareef. This TVC is more like the clandestine stage shows held around the country, the ones where men pay good money to enter and leave disappointed.
Sadly the Josh commercial has no performance. Sadly this Josh commercial has no josh of its own!
Tyrone Tellis is a Pakistan-based marketing professional.