Josh is a funny little brand. And I mean this with no disrespect to DKT, which is an influential global organisation working behind the scenes on public health issues, and I do admit that there's nothing little or funny about Pakistan’s urban population explosion. That being said, the way Josh jostle for the attention of their audience is strangely amusing; like watching a super-determined puppy trying to chase its own tail.
Josh’s communications are always energetic and nonconformist; something I admire. Leveraging Mathira’s risqué image to piggyback the brand’s was a bold move by the maverick Mexican that headed the organisation half a decade ago, but by now I feel like the Mathira angle is running on fumes; case in point, the latest thanda TVC that you are ignoring on your screens today.
I have always been super careful when criticising the work of other agencies, because I empathise with the levels of compromise they have to suffer before the final product is sent to the media. But this one has the marks of giving up all over it. The most telltale sign is not how bad Mathira and her husband are at packing and moving their stuff, but rather the poorly timed and graceless jab at chai and Coca-Cola. It seems that the references to the tea and cola debate are deliberately added in a desperate attempt to make it share worthy. IP violations aside, the jingle at the end is simply in bad taste.
Here is what I suspect happened. The agency pitches a couple of decent concepts to the brand. Feedback and fireworks follow and eventually it is decided that the agency will try to mix ideas A and C. The newly born Frankenstein communication is then jerry-rigged into what the digital agency said will be “sticky” on social media.
The logic seems to be that the ad will be attacked, and therefore acknowledged by Coke, or Tapal, or both, and the ensuing David and Goliath story makes for news and buzz value. Even if that doesn't happen, perhaps people will share it on their networks simply because it’s a sexualised commentary on mainstream brands. At the very least, Mathira’s box full of condoms and allegedly, insatiable appetite may become great fodder for the lower end of their target audience.
Unfortunately, the communication fails on all three fronts. The big brands are not bothered. The conceptual connection is weak so it doesn’t get the social traction it needs to spread across audience networks. And Mathira’s antics are kind of expected from the brand, so not much shock value there.
What it does do effectively is continue to piss off people who think this sort of advertising is crass – and I doubt this meets any marketing objectives. Unless a follow-up campaign leverages this with some genius social-media heavy lifting, I don’t really think the folks at Josh will be celebrating much success.
Full marks for trying, though.
Umair Kazi is Partner, Ishtehari. firstname.lastname@example.org