The night that promised gold to the ‘mad men’ of advertising unfolded last week at the 3rd Pakistan Advertising Society (PAS) Awards, with a grand monument shining through white spotlights as the who’s who of advertising were welcomed at The Expo Centre in Karachi. The annual advertising awards festival celebrates the best in advertising and the creative geniuses responsible for producing some of the most entertaining campaigns of the year.
There were 165 submissions from 42 agencies in 28 categories, which were shortlisted by the PAS jury on the criteria of strategic challenge and objective, the big idea, bringing the idea to life and the result of the campaign. But the awards promised to honour more than just the glitz and glam of the industry when they announced a new category: Best Original Local Campaign pertained to ads which were desi in their making — from conception to execution.
Not only that, there was also some gold reserved this year for campaigns under Passion for Pakistan, to honour the ads that show up on every local occasion, festive or somber. Upping their game from last year, the awards were also on the lookout for Best in Digital, giving some much-needed recognition to those responsible for putting their advertising on all our gadgets and social profiles at the right time.
As the short-listed entries were screened, they recapped the year through the advertising we saw in between our favourite soaps, while we stopped at traffic lights, browsed through the pages of glossies, and while trolling over the Internet. It nostalgically reminded everyone of the tunes and jingles, nursery rhymes, peppy lyrics and heartwarming notes of the year.
Anoushey Ashraf clad in deep red, carrying her signature beaming grin along with Ali Safina donned in frilly tuxedo ruffles and his goofiness-and-a-half, took on the job as anchors of the night. They played the perfect pair, adding the right amount of sassiness to the announcement of categories, nominations and winners. As the show reel of nominations kept screening, it wasn’t just the teams behind the ads that were enjoying themselves: celebrities of which there were quite a few chuckled away as they reminisced precious moments. Among those present were Aaminah Shiekh and Mohib Mirza, Samina Peerzada, Haseena Moin, Zubeda Tariq, Sheema Kirmani, Arjumand Rahim, Sarwat Gillani, Nadya Mistry, Nina Lotia and the fashion artist Yousuf Bashir Qureshi. Ali Saleem aka Begum Nawazish was there too, giving the audience much to laugh about while giving away one of the awards to an advertising mogul. And where the Begum entertained with wordplay, fashion model Ayyan entertained with her poise, clad elegantly in black, handing the award to the team she had worked with as a brand ambassador. Also among the guests of the evening were Sajid Hassan and his better half, joined by the rest of the glitterati of the evening to sing Pakistan’s national anthem before crowning the 2013 Campaign of The Year amidst loud applause and confetti.
The song and dance performances were well-spaced between the awards so as to uphold the high of the gala. But the mood of the evening was set when Shahid Nazir came on stage to perform his signature song, One Pound Fish. His energy was as contagious as his song was viral, and had the rest of the dancers carried just as much enthusiasm, we would have been in for a real treat.
The next performance was by Komal Rizvi in a fashion forward cheetah print jumpsuit and signature pitch, and her partner from Coke Studio, folk singer Akhtar Chanal Zahri. They brought CS to the show with the hit Daanay Pe Daana.
Zoe Viccaji, stepped on the stage wrapped in a silk frock with puffed-up shoulders that harkened the ’80s, looking her ethereal best. She stood on a corner of the floor singing Jo Chaho as an elegant piece of choreography was complemented by the dancer Joshinder Chaggar, aka Josh. If that wasn’t enough razzmatazz, Strings was lined up to give the last performance of the evening, just before the announcement of the big awards. Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia swayed the audience with their classic number, Main Tou Dekhunga.
While comparing the PAS Awards (still in their infancy) to the LSAs may not sound fair, but they are making remarkable improvements with each ceremony — evident from many details that stood out such as time management, wifi access within the hall, etc. And while there is still room for improvement, the world of advertising couldn’t be more thankful for the recognition, encouragement and motivation that these awards have brought to those associated with the field.