From cosy events such as the Karachi Literature Festival to the behemoth event that PSL has become – HBL has left no stone unturned in painting the country green.
HBL’s PSL anthem, which commemorates the much-awaited series, Sab Sitaray Humaray for PSL featured three of the most popular artists in the country – Shae Gill, Asim Azhar and Faris Shafi.
Gill hit it big with her globally raved-about Pasoori from Coke Studio’s Season 14. Shafi, on the other hand, delivered hit after hit in 2022, including Muaziz Saarif with his sister Misha, which became one of the most viral songs coming out of Coke Studio.
Nice move with the line-up HBL! Trust a smart brand team to swoop in at the right time and cash in on the artists’ recent surge in popularity. Two birds with one stone – marketing gold!
Let’s take a gander at the anthem now. First, let’s get one thing out of the way – yes, every shot involving horses galloping and flags flying in slow motion is inspired by the recently popular Turkish historical shows Ertuğrul, Kuruluş: Osman and Uyanış: Büyük Selçuklu.
And although the shots may be a page taken from Turkish entertainment, kudos to team HBL for pushing the envelope and breaking away from the usual ‘dhol beats coupled with screaming cricketers’ template.
The anthem was shared on Pakistan Super League’s official Facebook page on February 11 and managed to rake in 10,000+ shares and some 17,000+ comments very soon. While the initiative in itself is commendable and fresh to some extent, the visual treatment could have been a tad bit livelier.
Cricket anthems and jingles in general are upbeat and colourful for a reason. The magic is in the adrenaline rush after all. Pakistan is a country swayed by emotion and to release an anthem that not only breaks the ‘dhol dhamaka’ stencil but also seems like a visual experiment may be too much of a risk for any brand to take. Especially when mass appeal is in question.
However, Shafi’s rap received the accolades it deserves and, to some extent, serves as the X factor in the anthem. However, the overall dark, Game of Thrones-inspired aesthetics used during Shafi’s rap verses didn’t sit well with the audience. Many feel the dark shots supporting Shafi’s part seem out of place and perhaps a bit skewed toward a niche audience.
Similarly, Gill’s look in the first half of the anthem seems like a homage to Frida Kahlo and doesn’t exactly stitch in with the overall purpose of the anthem – which was, I’m assuming, to lighten things up. The beat is catchy yet for some reason the only lyrics that actually go with it are the ones sung by Asim Azhar.
Keeping the anthem’s rather niche-targeting visual treatment aside, the anthem has received a decent response from the public. Much of which also has to do with the marketing efforts around it.
From opening dance performances on the anthem to the artists performing live, the promotional efforts around the anthem are just as strong as the lyrical piece itself, if not more.
Considering the current state of doom and gloom (thank you, global financial crisis), HBL as a brand deserves applause for supporting events and activities that lighten things up every once in a while. My genuine respect and appreciation go out to the team responsible for locking these sponsorships. As a common consumer of media efforts, I associate HBL with all things worth talking about. HBL is winning the branding game!
Taniya Hasan is a content marketer.