Affiliations are not an essential model; nevertheless they are necessary to an agency’s long-term success, writes Ali A. Rizvi.
Our line of work is all about making the right first impression (the razzle-dazzle) and to do this, the packaging needs to be thought out, especially when it comes to appointing an advertising agency that knows how to strike the right balance between swag and substance.
Speaking accented English with a slight slur and wearing a sharp suit takes care of the swag. Substance, however, comes from having the right HR mix, a can-do attitude and an affiliation is the cherry on the cake.
I have been fortunate to have worked with an affiliated agency, an agency considering the idea of an affiliation and a formerly affiliated agency.
As an employee, there is a sense of pride when you work for an affiliated agency and it will not be wrong to say that working for one makes you a bit arrogant and gives you the illusion of being almost equal to the client. You are on the guest list for most of the pitches in town. The biggest privilege is working on international brands. This helps draw HR to the agency and they will always give first preference to an affiliated agency even though the pay scale is lower than at a local one.
Life is not bad on the non-affiliated side of things, but I have to admit it is a bit hard. One has to work harder to keep up with the competition and ensure that the lack of an affiliation doesn’t come in the way of retaining or acquiring new business – and there are no global tools or research to validate claims. Yet, all these shortcomings help kick in the survivor instinct. Extra effort goes into each piece of work, so that what you lack in tools is made up through effort and creativity. The most valuable lesson for me was to be fearless.
The process of acquiring an affiliation is lengthy and tedious but at the end of the day, a good deal makes it worthwhile. In most cases, affiliations help agencies acquire business through aligned accounts, but the most important things they bring to a business are the systems and financial controls that help streamline work and day-to-day operations. In an affiliated setup, the emphasis is on future planning and close monitoring of the KPI’s to ensure targets are achieved and critical decisions can be taken in a timely way.
Systems, financial controls and software, are the biggest reason why media buying houses are able to win over clients; it gives them an edge over other agencies.
There is no denying that affiliated agencies have elevated industry standards. However, there are two major areas where they have failed to make an impact: creative and HR developments. When it comes to the creative aspect, you may think that the strength of the network will be behind that agency. A flash of that gora is seen at the pitch but once the account is won, the gora goes dark. This is not to undermine our local creative pool, but as an industry, we are still in the learning phase, so a little help from developed markets and minds would help raise the bar and educate the clients.
Collaborative efforts are rare and I don’t mean regional campaigns that are made for other markets and adapted locally. A good example is Shan Foods. They have rolled out two campaigns using the creative pool of their agency’s network. Both communications had high recall and did exceptionally well virally. They set a new benchmark in terms of storytelling. We have a powerhouse full of raw and established creative talent; the opportunity to work with well-known names from around the world will help nurture their thinking processes.
The media buying houses have been effective in placing local talent within the larger network in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore and at all levels. There is frequent interaction of local planners with their global counterparts through seminars and training and planning sessions.
These opportunities are a great way of networking and exploring avenues for growth within the network. Creative agencies used to focus on training but due to shrinking profit margins, this expense was the first to be tossed out of the window, without understanding how essential training is for professional and institutional growth.
Survival dictates that having an affiliation is a must now. Most Pakistani agencies are part of a global network and those without one are struggling to retain business and are finding it very hard to exist, regardless of whether it is a creative or media agency. If you go by the predictions, 2018 will be a tough year for the industry as business slows down further. Digital agencies will continue to eat into the creative agency’s share of the pie and same goes in terms of spend when it comes to mainstream versus digital media.
Ali A. Rizvi is Chief Executive Officer, What’s Next Entertainment. He can be contacted at email@example.com
“WE HAD A GROOVY THING GOIN...”
Ali Hayat on how Interflow has weaned a new generation of ad persons.
Fair warning. This piece may seem like a tribute to the living legends that are Seema and Taher A. Khan and I make no apologies for it. You cannot tell the story of Interflow without the woman and the man who made it happen, so I won’t even try.
Now, since every story has to begin somewhere, I will start with the first day I walked into Interflow. I was a copywriter working at Asiatic (now JWT), pampered and feted by the Rammals, happy and even more importantly, content. Yet here I was, entering the lair of the ‘enemy’, the closest thing that you could find to the big, bad wolf in the advertising industry of Pakistan at that point in time.
The interview had been set up by a former colleague and dear friend who wanted me to move on to bigger and better things. I was supposed to meet Seema Taher and all I had to do to get the gig was to convince her that I had potential.
I made a complete hash of things. I was cocky. I was brash and I acted like I was the greatest thing that happened to the world of advertising since David Ogilvy put an eye patch on the Hathaway man and Bernbach decided to ‘Think Small’. And I trashed her favourite author – just to add the cherry on top. And yet... she hired me.
You see, that was the kind of place Interflow was. Taher called it ‘organised chaos’. It was an agency that not only tolerated mavericks, but bred and nurtured them. Dissent was not frowned upon; it was actively encouraged. It was the bravest of agencies and every individual who graduated from those hallowed halls still carries a bit of Interflow within themselves to this day.
We knew we were the best and we had a roster of clients to prove it. Over the course of my eight-something years there, I had the chance to work on BAT, Daihatsu, Emirates, Nestle, Pepsi, Unilever, Union Bank, United Bank, … the list goes on and on. Clients came to Interflow because they knew that there was only one Taher A. Khan in the industry; the one man who could create the magic their brand needed. And Taher knew that he had created a strong enough bench that would deliver on his vision. He used to tell us that while other agencies told their clients, “Ho sakta hai”, we will tell them “Ho ga”. Of course, he also gave us a whole lot of other aphorisms that are too colourful to print, but you get the gist.
Interflow was the first agency to have a full-fledged strategy and planning department, led by Shoaib Qureshy. It was the first agency that had its own production house, run by Rohail Hyatt. It brought in MindShare (Now GroupM), with Asad-ur-Rehman at its head. And these were just the people that were there when I was. At some point in time, Mehdi Raza worked at Interflow, as did Omar Fareed. Raihan Merchant is a legendary alumni. Taher never turned talent away, even if he didn’t have a role for them at that specific point in time. If the man or woman showed potential, Taher would even go so far as to create a business unit for them.
And while Taher was that ‘larger than life’ figure who inspired awe and sometimes even wonder, Seema was (and is) simply, Amma. She was temperamental, impulsive, sometimes exasperating… but always and forever loving. But then that is who the Khan were. Every agency or organisation pays lip service to the ‘we are a family’ line, but I have lived it at Interflow. We would randomly have a dholki at Taher’s place, even if no one was getting married, just because we felt like it. There were no ‘bridge ke uss paar…’ divisions.
The only divisions were those of ability and initiative. It did not matter where you came from at Interflow. If you showed the desire to grow, you knew you would be going somewhere.
I don’t know whether it was because of, or despite, the fun we were having that we were able to produce work that is still a tough act to follow.
When I look back at those years that I spent at Interflow, I marvel at the kind of freedom both creatives and account handlers had. We had the courage to make decisions, safe in the knowledge that Taher and Seema had our back. Perhaps that is why we were able to do what we did. Don’t get me wrong… Interflow had its share of epic disasters (NICOP and Hero card, just to name two). But we always came back bigger and stronger.
Today, when I look at agencies and the cookie-cutter work we are producing, I cannot help but wonder where did we lose the way? When did we stop being brave? When did we start working for clients and not brands?
Ali Hayat is Executive Creative Director, BE DDB.
THE ART OF APPOINTING GREAT AGENCIES
By squeezing an agency’s ROI, clients are leading both their brands and the profession down the garden path of mediocrity, writes Syed Amir Haleem.
I remember a time when clients used to see agencies as equals and value our opinions, not because it was required by policy, but because what we did made a difference.
I remember working for a Pakistani agency and we held our half-yearly meetings in cities like Istanbul and London. I remember our CEO being invited by the global marketing head of PepsiCo to share our success story with the heads of other global brand teams. However, somewhere between then and now, the people in advertising lost their vision and faith. So what has changed and why are we seeing so much mediocrity?
Marketing teams today are facing some of the most difficult challenges I have ever seen. The complexity of managing a brand has become a nightmare, yet with a few exceptions, most agencies are offering the same old solutions, repackaged with scientific sounding jargon – and one may well ask why? The answer is profitability, or to be more precise, the lack thereof. Earning a fraction of the ROI they used to enjoy a few decades ago, agencies are unable to manage the required delivery – and this is not necessarily a local issue.
It would be foolish to suggest that anything other than people create great advertising, and with retention scales being at their worst, the average agency cannot hold on to good people. As a result, to expect agencies to deliver good work is about as reasonable as if I were to expect a five star hotel to serve me a decent plate of biryani (as every avid biryani enthusiast knows, the best plates are found not at fancy hotels but by roadside stalls). This, then begs the question of whether better work can be found from the smaller agencies. The recent wins by such agencies at the last PAS Awards is evidence of this.
With a fraction of the expenses large agencies have, the small, creative shops enjoy better ROIs. They also offer the compensation and the environment that the current generation relates to. If you think I am crazy to suggest this, let me tell you that at the last MNC I worked for, we had a turnover rate of 70%.
But that is not the surprising part. What drew my attention was the fact that all those who left, went to mid-size or smaller businesses and yet managed to get anywhere from a 75 to a 100% pay jump. In one instance, one of my juniors had a 125% windfall! I was part of management and no matter how we did the financials, we were unable to meet that kind of compensation to retain people – there simply are not enough margins in the business with the kind of overheads large agencies have.
Clients are not helping either. I don’t understand what they teach at business schools because they don’t seem to understand a simple concept – if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. This is such a basic business concept, yet it completely seems to elude even the most seasoned CMOs.
Brand teams are forcing agencies to think short-term. Because of the financial crunch, agencies hire to fill
their ranks with people with short-term objectives rather than a long-term vision. Ask yourself what is the key differentiation between your agency and any other in Pakistan?
And if there is none, this is not because there is a lack of understanding about what differentiation is; these agencies make their living by differentiating brands. A USP comes from a place of vision, perspective and inspiration. Can agency owners afford not to hire people able to bring these qualities to the table?
To fix profitability, agencies are trying to diversify their services by offering media planning and digital, when instead, they should be re-evaluating their core business rather than diversifying an already undifferentiated product and spreading it thinner. This is why, when brand teams reach out for digital solutions, they end up with platform-based tactics rather than a campaign.
The direct impact of lower profitability for an agency is the erosion of intellectual capital. Not only are people hired to fit the pay bracket rather than the skill-set required, they are not trained to develop these skills. With no budgets, agency training has become an absolute sham. There used to be a time when employees would be sent abroad for workshops and secondments; now, when an employee reaches out for help in learning something, he is told to Google it.
It’s a grim picture. At the moment, most clients are willing to pay cheap and get mediocre work; they are not interested in work with impact because their own internal processes do not hold them accountable for quality when it comes to their KPIs. The average retainer for an agency is a laughable Rs 150,000 a month. It is practically impossible to deliver good ideas on such figures unless you are a small, 10-person start-up.
The average cost to an agency for a team of seven people (two client service people, a strategy person, a creative director and three creatives) is one million rupees. The minimum overhead cost for a mid-size agency (excluding the above costs but including other talent and back office payroll) is Rs 1.25 million.
Therefore, with the addition of the team of seven, the total cost comes to Rs 2.25 million. With a 15% profit margin, the agency needs to earn Rs 2.59 million to survive. If a brand is willing to buy 20% of the team’s time, it will have to pay a minimum of Rs 0.518 million in retainer (20% of Rs 2.59 million). Now, if anyone has a magic solution for how it is practically possible to deliver quality when a client is willing to only offer a going rate of Rs 0.15 million for a seven member team, you have my complete interest.
If you don’t have an answer, then here is an honest insight into what you are forcing your agency to give you. Either they will only manage to give you 5.7% of the team’s time, which in my three decades worth of experience will buy you mediocre work, or they will reduce the compensation of the team drastically, because they can’t afford to pay good people.
Hiring cheaper resources with lesser experience or people with mediocre skills will again impact the quality of work. These figures may vary from agency to agency depending on their size, but they are sound rule of thumb to do the maths on. It makes me smile when clients ask why our agencies do not produce work similar to that done for Fevicol or Amul in India and I wonder if they have any idea on how much these companies compensate their agencies.
To sum up, brand teams need to make a serious call regarding where they draw the line on compensation. They need to ask how important quality creative is. They also need to dwell upon what quality creative actually is, and how it impacts their brand. To be fair to the CMOs, yes there are agencies which produce poor work and are incapable of doing anything better. To be honest, they are not structured to deliver insightful and relevant work. I know this because I have worked for some of them.
However, the question is not whether in a country of 188 million people you can find 10 people to do justice to your brand – of course you can. The question is: are you willing to pay those 10 people what they deserve?
Article excerpted from ‘Hiring monkeys’, published in the November-December 2015 edition of Aurora.
Syed Amir Haleem is CEO, KueBall. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN PIONEERING BRANDS BECAME LIFESTYLE INFLUENCERS
Shoaib Qureshy charts the trajectory of the branded journey.
It is said that the 1960s ‘Mad Men’ era started the global branded revolution. The first wave of this branded storm hit Pakistan in the late seventies and led to a transformation in client and agency organisation and relationships and ultimately defined modern day marketing.
In my opinion, Lever Brothers (now Unilever) were the fathers of the branded revolution in Pakistan. In those days, they were known more as the manufacturers of Dalda and Lifebuoy, and for having market dominant brands such as Lipton, Lux and Surf in their portfolio.
They knew that as long as the quality of their products was superior to the competition, they were pretty much set. In fact, well into the seventies, savvy consumers could easily distinguish between a high-quality and a shabby product. So, as much as we like to complain about what we buy, it is a fact that we are living in a golden age of quality products.
Today, it is rare to find cars that consistently breakdown or soaps that dissolve quickly. I challenge you to walk into any supermarket and find a product that is not of almost equal quality to the category leader in terms of functional performance. Nevertheless, the companies that were category leaders in the early days are more often than not the same ones today – and this speaks to the discipline of branding and marketing.
THE BIRTH OF MODERN BRANDS
The shift from simple products to brands was not sudden or inevitable. One could argue that brands grew out of the need to standardise the quality of products in the mid-20th century and this required companies to find a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
It was then that consumer packaged goods companies such as General Foods, P&G and Unilever developed the discipline of brand management – and the brand manager’s function was to give a product an identity that distinguished it from nearly indistinguishable competitors.
This required both understanding the target consumer and providing a ‘branded proposition’ that offered not only functional but emotional value. Over time, the emotional value would create a buffer against functional parity. As long as a brand was perceived to offer superior value, it could charge a little more. If this brand advantage was higher than the cost of building the brand (additional staff and advertising costs), the company came out ahead.
In Pakistan, in the fifties and sixties, brands such as Dalda, Lipton, Lifebuoy and Lux set the benchmark for today’s brands. They marked the start of four decades of marketing whereby ‘winning’ depended on understanding the consumer better than the competition and getting the ‘brand mix’ right. The brand mix is more than about the logo or the price. It is about the packaging, the promotions and the advertising, all of which are guided by precisely worded positioning statements or brand keys.
BUILDING ARTICULATE BRANDS
Few brands are articulate. Even the inventors of brand management find it a challenge. When I worked with P&G in the nineties (when they first entered Pakistan), I noticed that although many of their brands were highly regarded for their functional quality, Unilever brands had a stronger emotional bond with consumers.
For decades, the big companies marketed brands and everyone else sold products. When I graduated from university, I knew it was important to work for companies such as Coca-Cola, Colgate, Nestlé, Pepsi, P&G or Unilever, in order to learn the ropes of marketing and branding. The other companies, which sought to introduce brand management, tended to hire ‘graduates’ from the above companies after they had been trained there for five years. From thereon, those marketers fanned out across Pakistan’s marketing industry.
A LinkedIn search of the top marketing people will confirm how important those companies were in shaping Pakistan’s branded revolution.
FROM ONE AGENCY TO MULTIPLE AGENCIES
There was a time when every client had one agency. This was when product differentiation did not matter.
However, when it became paramount to build distinct brands, clients realised the importance of hiring different agencies to work on different brands. This brought a sharper focus to every brand. In Pakistan, this gained momentum with the arrival of agency affiliations three decades ago.
THE EVOLUTION CONTINUES
Initially, brands were aligned with products and organisations. At the least effective level, brands could lay claim to distinct attributes, functions and features. Taking it up a notch, brands could claim distinct benefits: functional, emotional, experiential or self-expressive.
Today, they are focusing on values and purpose. Brands need to stand for something and share a set of values with their customers. The most powerful of those brands will create communities based on shared values, culture and a sense of identity and purpose.
Shoaib Qureshy is CEO, Bulls Eye DDB. He can be contacted at email@example.com
A FAREWELL TO BRAND LOVE
In their quest to dominate price wars, telecom companies have virtually abandoned an inventive branding that defined their marketing earlier, writes Yasmin Malik.
I can never forget the excitement and anticipation I felt before the run-up to purchasing my first mobile connection. The year was 2001. Mobile communication in Pakistan was set to take a turn to truly include everyone. The new entrant had chosen a brand name envisioned to connect to all: Ufone.
My excitement was shared by many across Pakistan who had been left out of what was (up to that point) the expensive and often, exclusive, if not elusive, mobile telephony. Mobile phone users of today will find it hard to envisage a time when GSM or SIM-based services were not available.
Paktel (under Cable & Wireless) and Instaphone (under Millicom) launched their nationwide Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) services respectively, in 1990. Initial services were post-paid only and typically required a $250 deposit, while the handsets were clunky and expensive – so the marketing was directed towards corporate customers.
Paktel had a distinctive and very well-designed logo, which consisted of six, green-bordered hexagons (representing the shape of the coverage of a cellular tower) joined together as a map of Pakistan on a white background. The logo’s creative message (national coverage) couldn’t have been more discerningly clear.
Instaphone and Paktel competed fairly evenly, with brand marketing reflecting the Mobile Party Pays (MPP) regime of the 1990s. As MPP involved paying for calls made and received, the mobile phone was largely perceived and marketed as a corporate or ‘VIP’ communication tool. When Mobilink entered the market in 1994 with their GSM service, the nature of telecom branding changed. Emphasis was on the ‘status’ and ‘exclusivity’ of belonging to a particular mobile network. This was most notable in the branding of Mobilink’s post-paid offering called Indigo – a stylish, sophisticated and successful venture, which easily allowed Mobilink to become the market leader.
Mobilink played a primary role in the development of Pakistan’s pre-paid market with the establishment of their iconic Jazz brand, launched in 1998. Their approach was unique at the time. They introduced the concept of the ‘Jazz Girl’ with the sultry and sensual image of Iman Ali at the centre of the campaign. The concept was shrewd enough to differentiate the service from the Indigo brand while at the same time, maintain the ‘exclusivity’ of being on the Mobilink network. For many, many years, Jazz remained a truly aspirational brand.
Instaphone’s InstaXcite brand was positioned to challenge Jazz and became notable for using TVCs that were small stories in themselves. The ‘story’ was taken forward in consecutive ads reminiscent of Nescafe’s story-driven nineties coffee ads in the UK. Overall however, mobile telephony branding remained constrained due to the MPP regime, which remained in force until a little after the turn of the century and only those who could afford it, remained privy to mobile telephony services.
The popularity of mobile handsets grew in parallel. The Nokia Communicator was the much sought-after handset for many in the corporate sector, while a loyal following of the Blackberry service (first introduced by Mobilink) made the post-paid market highly viable for telecom companies.
The more affordable Nokia 3310 soon became an icon and its nostalgic value remained so strong that Nokia re-launched a more modern version of it earlier this year. Those aspiring for a new (but yet unaffordable) mobile phone connection resolved firmly that the Nokia 3310 would be their phone of choice. I was among the many with this determination which brings me back to the wave of expectation that preceded Ufone’s entry into the market.
In the run-up to the Ufone launch in January 2001, the PTA introduced the Calling Party Pays (CPP) regime and mobile telephony became decisively cheaper, especially for pre-paid users. While the existing telecom companies focused on expanding their userbase in the categories that they had already established, Ufone’s branding took a completely different direction: the mass market.
With the help of Faisal Qureshi’s comic and highly relevant cultural insights, the image of mobile telephony soon transformed into one within the reach of even the thelawala. One of the early and memorable Ufone TVCs features Faisal Qureshi, proclaiming excitedly to his wife (who hilariously turns out to be his mother-in-law in the end) how affordable and easy it will be to stay in touch using the Ufone service.
Whilst Ufone strongly pitched itself on price, its rivals compromised little and chose to maintain their brand identity and creativity. Even Paktel launched their own prepaid service in 2001 called Tango, but could not keep pace with their rivals, despite switching to GSM services in 2004. Paktel’s and Instaphone’s international owners sold their stakes soon after Warid and Telenor entered the market in 2005.
At this point, the inventive branding that defined the market started to slide. Telenor, and especially Warid, did remain creative for a year or so after launch, but the rot that can now so clearly be seen in today’s telecom branding had begun to set in, with full-blown price wars being the malicious driver.
Paktel was eventually bought out by China Telecom in 2007 and rebranded as Zong the year after. That rebrand was the beginning of a journey that, within a decade, would make Zong the conqueror of the 4G market in Pakistan. But that remains a story for another day.
Yasmin Malik is associated with the UK’s Informa Telecoms and Media. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
BRANDS, BANDS AND BANDWAGONS
Taimur Tajik comments on the symbiotic relationship between music and brands.
Ever catch yourself unconsciously singing along to a Britney Spears song? Or becoming teary-eyed to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata? Or feeling the urge to run naked through the woods when the theme song from the Last of the Mohicans is playing? (Okay, maybe that last one is just me).
The point is, whether you realise it or not, your auditory cortex is biologically hardwired to process and respond to audio stimulation. Therefore, your impulse to react to music is not entirely your fault (unless you actually like Britney Spears). That is why, certain types of music can illicit responses, such as tapping your foot, getting pumped up at the gym, or feeling nostalgic about your ex.
It is also why something as seemingly trivial as music has been used throughout history for many real world applications, such as boosting military morale and defining entire eras of art and subculture. And since music has the power to tap into our emotions, no wonder that brands have exploited it to grab our attention and find their way into our hearts and minds.
It all started in the days when brands were relying on jingles to gain their share of mind. From toothpaste to confectionary, brands jumped on the jingle bandwagon, using simple, limerick-styled rhymes and audio mnemonics to increase memorability. Needless to say, it was an incredibly successful strategy, so much so that jingles continue to be used by many big brands today.
And why not? If a brand can etch its way into consumers’ minds by spending a minimal amount of time and budget on creating a jingle and jack-hammering it into our skulls, can we blame them for doing so? Yet, despite the effectiveness of jingles, I doubt there are many out there that consumers have grown to love (the majority are irritants). Just because we remember them, doesn’t mean we want to. Dare I remind you of Telefun?
Luckily, by the nineties, brands began using music more maturely to create a deeper affinity with their audiences. Commercials began featuring mainstream songs, as well as original compositions – ushering in a new level of commercial music that was a far cry from the juvenile jingles of yesteryears. Commercial music took on a new dimension, giving us some of the most anthemic and iconic compositions of our generation.
You may, for example, recall State Life’s fondly reminisced ‘Aye khuda mere abbu salamat rahen and Molty Foam’s Meri nanhi pari, naye ghar ko chali’, which are revered as classic commercial hits of our time.
Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the artists behind the music drifted into the spotlight, cementing their celebrity status by pairing up with successful brands. In the early nineties, Vital Signs were catapulted into stardom after appearing in a series of Pepsi commercials.
As time passed, the celebrity singer-songwriter trend continued with commercial cameos from Ali Azmat, Ali Zafar, Strings, and so on, catalysing their journey to fame and solidifying the bond between music and commercial advertising.
Solo artists and bands began crossing over from music channels to commercials, and so seamlessly that at times you couldn’t figure out whether you were watching a music video or a new product launch. Pepsi was the first to make waves by extending this platform to non-celebrities with their 2001 ‘Battle of the Bands’. By the early 2000s, music and commercials were so intensely mashed up that they had become inseparable.
Much like cricket, music became a platform brands would turn to when they felt they needed to reconnect with their audiences.
Fast-forward to 2009 (after a lengthy lull) and Coke suddenly exploded onto the scene with a musical renaissance: Coke Studio. For me, this was the pivotal turning point when brands began taking a courageous step backwards, allowing the music to remain at the forefront and without compromising its integrity.
Yeah, it was a completely branded show, but no one sang about Coke or refreshment or anything lame like that. The brand did not interfere with the content or its purpose. Coke merely provided a platform for artists to work together to create music that appealed to the young and older generations of our music-loving nation. They saw an opportunity to leverage music commercially in a way that no one had done before. More importantly, they did it tastefully.
As always, everyone else followed suit. Big brands such as Pepsi, Nescafe, Strepsils and even Levi’s replicated the format (with minor tweaks), engaging in an intense battle for their own share of megabytes on our MP3 players. But guess who won? The music. Sure, brands enjoyed a big slice of the pie, but it was the local artists and their craft that finally received due recognition.
Whereas music was initially used as a gimmick to hook audiences and sell products, it has now become the tidal force that brands are tripping over themselves to harness. The irony is that without brands, Pakistan would have probably never seen such a remarkable resurgence in the local music scene, as brands are the only ones today making any significant investment in our home-grown artists.
In a nutshell: brands are keeping artists alive, and artists are providing brands with a platform to connect with consumers. Whoever saw that coming? (In all fairness, maybe Pepsi did in 2001). What is clear today is that music and advertising enjoy a fruitful symbiotic relationship, one that is benefiting brands, artists and audiences. The way I see it, that is a big step forward from where we started and gives us an insight into what we may hear in the future.
Taimur Tajik is Executive Creative Director, Manhattan International.
BRAND POWER IN THE PAVILION
T.N. Ahmed writes about the obsessional engagement of the public with cricket. So why haven’t brands leveraged cricket better to their advantage?
In 1952, Pakistan unveiled its newly-formed cricket team in a test match against India. The captain of the team was the tall, aristocratic-looking Abdul Hafeez Kardar. Known as The Skipper, he had five years earlier played for the team he was now facing. A brilliant strategist and a gifted all-rounder, Kardar was, in every way Imran Khan’s predecessor.
There was also the dashing Fazal Mahmood, literally the blue-eyed boy who became the face of Brylcreem in Pakistan. Brylcreem – popularly associated itself with sports, mainly cricket, tennis and football – chose sportsmen with luxurious locks, such as Mahmood’s, to endorse it. Hanif Mohammad, the boy wonder, was picked up to endorse a myriad brands.
The most tenuous of them was to advertise a 1955 Indian film Taxi Driver with the line ‘As Hanif smashes all previous records …so does our funtoosh Taxi Driver’. It seems Dev Anand’s name in the billing wasn’t enough. Mohammad later became the face of Cricketer Magazine as well as Berger Robbialac Paints.
Unexpectedly, it was the Joe Friday of the team who provided gossip to the tabloids by wooing a much married celluloid star and breaking his leg while escaping the wrath of the said movie star’s husband. Or so the legend goes.
So began our love affair with cricket – and cricketers. Was it the thrill of conquering the colonial gentlemen’s game, the well-defined charisma of the players that allowed everyone to have a firm favourite, or the drama and intrigue of the locker room, reported in the gossip rags (yes, always a mainstay) that has made us root for cricket with more passion than we ever could muster for any other sport? Not surprisingly, the love affair of advertising with sports endorsements started with cricket.
Pakistan had stellar hockey teams for many years and dominated squash for a decade, with Jahangir Khan as the face of PIA, and hockey gracing a stamp or two. We were proud of both but never infatuated enough for brands to come knocking on their doors.
For a brief period in the eighties, we had international yachting stars Behram and Goshpi Avari and an international bridge star, Zia Mahmood, much in the news, but ‘a bit too niche’ for an advertising market that was still developing.
Wills was the first brand to court cricket with campaigns in the seventies and eighties, predominantly via branding the World Cups in Australia and Pakistan. While Benson & Hedges courted cricket in Britain, Wills produced a series of memorable campaigns featuring Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Majid Khan.
The clamp down on cigarette advertising put an end to that. Unfortunately, nothing can be found on the world wide web. If there are agencies out there which worked on the campaigns and have anything in their archives, please do share.
But the ubiquitous presence of cricketing celebrities in advertising can only be credited to one brand and one particular campaign.
In the mid-eighties, Pepsi Pakistan dutifully followed global guidelines and focused on the nation’s favourite sport and its captain, who seemed cut from the same mould as Kardar. The TVC featured a very fit Imran Khan in his impeccable whites, coaching a group of young kids who looked up at him with awestruck eyes.
Perhaps it was the minimalistic visual appeal of the pristine whites against the green backdrop; perhaps it was the appealing metaphor of Imran Khan towering over adoring fans/aspiring cricketers like a modern-day god perhaps it was the sight of him wiping the sweat off his brow with the ice-cold bottle that set a million hearts aflutter, or the peppy English jingle; maybe, it was simply the perfect match of a youthful brand (the only one at the time) and the youthful zest of sports.
Compare this to another cola ad the same cricketer did across the border within the same timeframe. Drinking a Thumbs Up with Gavasker, he looks like your genial next-door neighbour. But that iconic Pepsi ad succeeded in the marriage of advertising and sports. And I suspect, in cementing Mr Khan’s reputation as a star that culminated with the 92 World Cup.
In later years, other brands piggybacked on the cricket wave, with HBL and Mobilink/Jazz being the most frequent. Servis jumped in with campaigns featuring Abdul Razzak and Shahid Afridi for Cheetah shoes.
Dawn bread worked with Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq. And lately, Bank Alfalah brought the rags to riches stories of Anwar Ali. Yet, Pepsi has been the most consistent and has produced the most memorable advertising, successfully ensuring our love (/hate) relationship with the game.
Very briefly did Aisam-ul-Haq provide a welcome distraction and Close-Up seized upon his winsome smile, but tennis is not a game that is played by everyone and Haq, though very sweet, was not sexy enough. Cricket still makes our hearts go zing.
Whereas globally, sports have a much more deep-set and consistent association with advertising (Gillette, Rolex and Nike), in Pakistan, it has never amounted to more than a flirtation. Often that incongruous endorsement materialises simply because the brand wants to capitalise on a particular cricketer’s budding popularity without much thought given to check whether that sportsman (or the sport itself) is a good fit for the brand.
Not surprisingly, it may not translate into ROI. And for some brands that may find a good fit, perhaps the player’s price is too high. Some brands like Coca-Cola, knowing that they do not have a right to win in cricket, are branching into football, much of which will become apparent over the next year or so. The business of sports is big. It is not saturated and as advertisers, we have the power to create new sporting heroes and new sporting avenues.
T.N. Ahmed works for an advertising agency in Pakistan.
POSITIONING CULTURE FOR BRAND SUCCESS
In our mad scramble to gain distinctiveness, why not embrace Pakistan’s cultural narratives to ensure that your brand stands out, asks Tyrone Tellis.
David Ogilvy is often quoted on how to structure an agency and develop an effective culture for success.
Yet, I wonder whether he ever said anything about societal culture and the role advertising plays in shaping it. Culture is a word that is bandied about endlessly in Pakistan, yet most people have little idea what exactly it is. In fact, they regard culture as something immobile and set in stone.
On the contrary, culture is anything except rigid and inflexible; rather it is people who impose restrictions on something that is fluid and malleable. All cultures evolve. In Pakistan, in the fifties and sixties, sari was a widely accepted form of women’s wear. It was frequently seen on TV, and was a part of the everyday wardrobe of the urban Pakistani woman. Today, sari has been relegated to occasions such as weddings or formal dinners. In the same way, whether we are aware of it or not, our culture has changed and adapted to new trends and ideas.
Culture informs the work of marketers and it is a facet of society they can transform through their work. Take the example of recipe mix masalas. When this product category was introduced in the eighties, the reaction was negative. Women were not comfortable using such a product as they felt it suggested that they did not care enough for their family and were lazy.
However, over time, due to marketing efforts, as well as other societal changes, recipe mix masalas have gained acceptance and are now part of the urban housewife’s kitchen.
So how do brands decide whether to toe the line and adhere to society’s norms, or challenge the prevalent mindset? Factors, such as the ability to gain an edge over an entrenched competitor, growth potential and opportunities to reach an untapped psychographic, may encourage a brand to take a society’s culture head on.
In Pakistan, marketers are constantly evaluating whether they need to be the bearers of cultural change or endorse the existing culture. I suggest that they approach culture another way. Pakistani brands need to appreciate and respect the culture of our nation.
Last year, Tapal won a PAS Award for its Chenak Dust campaign, which highlighted the culture of the people of Thar. Looking back, we all tend to be nostalgic when remembering Morven Gold’s Rhythm of Unity commercial, which, for many of us, is still the benchmark of what a great cultural communication should be.
Yet, if we look at the advertising currently produced, it seems that brands are paying lip service to culture and not appreciating it. To use a metaphor, culture is a rich palette containing a variety of hues and shades, yet brands seem only to be painting in green, focusing on patriotism, religion or other tried and tested formulas.
Why are our brands taking culture for granted? In my view, the problem is that in their quest to produce aspirational advertising, they have forgotten how to produce inspirational advertising. Thanks to our exposure to Indian channels, we can see how Indian brands are embracing their culture. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that India used to be a closed economy, but there is no denying that many Indian brands look for local concepts and ideas rather than adopting global communication platforms and even when they do, there is always a local twist, so that the audience does not feel alienated.
An apt example of a truly desi idea is the Nike India cricket commercial. Instead of showing kids playing cricket in the galees (streets) or on a cricket field, the brand team decided to use a local ‘bane’ – the traffic jam – as the setting.
Another example is Fevicol, where a bus is travelling on a very bumpy road, with a horde of passengers clinging on all sides. At the end of the commercial, no passenger has fallen off and the tagline appears ‘Fevicol – the ultimate adhesive’.
Compare this to the naach gaana and other devices used by Pakistani brands. Pakistani brands need to appreciate culture better. Hackneyed executions with stereotypical portrayals of ethnic groups do not count as proof of respect for culture.
Going back to the ‘Rhythm of Unity’ commercial or taking a look at the iconic PIA ad with an attractive dusky-complexioned woman extolling the East’s hospitality and a headline that reads ‘Our Unfair Advantage’, a case can be made that although local brands used to respect culture, they have lost their way.
Respect for culture is a sure way for marketers to create empathy and a sense of belonging. By being culturally savvy, brands will be able to break through the clutter, communicate better and create ownership. When everyone is searching for an unfair advantage, Pakistani brands should embrace culture for success.
Tyrone Tellis is a marketing professional working in Pakistan. He can be contacted at email@example.com
THE NATION’S LEAD ADVERTISER
Despite unresolved grievances and inherent challenges, no agency, channel or
publication would ever consider declining the opportunity to work with government — the largest advertiser in Pakistan. Ayesha Shaikh explains why.
The Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage is responsible for devising the policies that oversee the development and release of Government (Federal and Provincial) advertising in Pakistan.
Under the umbrella of the Ministry, the Press Information Department (PID) is responsible for ensuring that the legal framework regulating Government advertising is followed. It also acts as the focal point of contact and collaboration between the stakeholders involved and as the clearing house for both federal and provincial Government advertising.
The key stakeholders
Government advertising consists of classified and display advertisements. Restricted to the print media, classified advertisements include tender notices, vacancy announcements and Request for Proposals (RFPs) from vendors.
As their budgets are preapproved by the relevant ministries, the media release and payment settlement process involved is simple. The situation becomes tricky when display advertisements are involved.
The process is initiated by the ministry that wants to release a campaign after obtaining the approval of the Secretary of Information. Subsequently, agencies – only those accredited by the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) – are invited to pitch.
Once an agency is appointed, the campaign is created, approved by the concerned Director General Public Relations and the client ministry and submitted to PID. Once the media plan has been approved by PID, a Department Release Order (DRO) is issued to the agency, which is now authorised to submit the Release Order (RO) to the releasing publications.
Once the advertisements are printed, the publications generate an invoice which is sent to the advertising agency for submission along with their own invoice to PID for payment. However, the process is not as straightforward as it appears, because the authority for sanctioning payments is centralised with PID.
In fact, it is the Press Information Officer (PIO) who must confirm that client ministries can release payments to agencies.
**The media face-off
Given that in FY 2015-16, the Government of Pakistan was the fourth largest advertiser in the print media in terms of product categories (source: Aurora Fact File November-December 2016), the importance of the government as a client for newspapers cannot be overestimated. Traditionally, governments advertised heavily in the print media.
A major reason is that tender advertising must be published in print and they constitute a considerable chunk of the total Government advertising. However, since the late nineties, the share of Government advertising in print has reduced. According to APNS, the TV-print break-up used to be about 50-50; in recent years, print’s share has gone down to 25-30%.
There have been ongoing negotiations between APNS and the government to rectify this situation; the APNS is asking that the government increase the share of the pie by fixing its advertising spend at two percent of the cumulative development budget and that the budget allocation between media should follow a 50-40-10 proportion for electronic, print and digital respectively, as is the norm in countries such as India.
Another bone of contention is the gap between the print tariffs offered to private clients compared to those offered to government clients. According to APNS, TV not only receives a larger share of government advertising, the rates offered by the channels to the government are higher than those offered to their private clients.
The PBA, however, disagree, contending that all government spots get a flat 30% discount on the printed tariff of any channel and whenever a channel revises its tariff, it automatically affects the government rates as well. They further point out that unlike print, PEMRA regulations state that TV and radio are legally bound to give 10% of their airtime free of cost to government public service campaigns.
Agencies in a fix
Although TV and print continue to disagree on this score, they share a common ground when it comes to the recovery of government dues. The issue is that although the credit period allowed by the PBA and APNS to agencies to make payments to channels and publications ranges between 60 to 90 days, the reality is that it can take between four to 12 months for government payments to come through.
Since the advertising agencies are liable to pay for the media they release, regardless of whether their government clients have paid them or not, they find themselves in a fix, because if they fail to settle their media dues within the credit period, they are suspended by the PBA and APNS and cannot release media for any client, whether private or public, until they pay up. On the issue of delayed payments, the PID’s response is that there are delays from the agencies, which despite being sent reminders, fail to submit the paperwork for bill processing.
Another issue is the creative (or the lack thereof) aspect of public sector campaigns. One of the primary reasons for this is that government clients expect agencies to put together campaigns in a matter of hours or days at best. “Delayed payments; stringent delivery deadlines; abysmal working hours and collaborating with people who have no idea of what advertising is.”
These were the four most commonly cited grievances of having the government as a client. This begs the question that if working with the government is such a thankless endeavour, then why not limit agency business to the private sector? The response was refreshingly honest and unanimous, and best summed up by Sohail Kisat, Group Chairman, MCOM: “Government is the only client that allows the agency to retain a 15% commission on media placement and that is where the real money is. In the private sector, the margins are as low as two to three percent, which is why we see agencies pitching for the so-called ‘dreadful government campaigns.”’
Government advertising spends are set to increase across media platforms. As agency margins continue to shrink in the private sector, not to mention the government’s extension into new avenues of digital and PR, agencies working with the government foresee the competition intensifying in the future.
Despite the manifold challenges of working with the government, no media platform or agency wants to miss out on receiving a share of the government’s considerable ad spend.
Article excerpted from ‘The Government as the Nation’s Advertiser’, published in the March-April 2017 edition of Aurora.
Ayesha Shaikh is a leading advertising and communications expert at Aurora. firstname.lastname@example.org
DETTOL: PROTECTOR OF EVERY HOUSEHOLD
Dettol is a trusted household name in Pakistan, thanks to a long history of providing germ protection to consumers. Originally launched as an antiseptic, the brand has evolved while remaining true to its core essence.
Up until the late nineties, Dettol was primarily a pharma brand; Dettol soap accounted for about two percent of the market share in the category, while Antiseptic Liquid (ASL) became a part of the first-aid box in the majority of Pakistani households and institutions.
In the early 2000s, the brand launched a range of soap variants, based on consumer needs. These included new variants in the Freshness and Skin Care platforms.
In the last two decades, Pakistan has become one of the biggest anti-bacterial soap markets in the world in terms of market share, with three major global players competing in the segment. In such a highly contested category, Dettol has grown steadily and according to Nielsen, holds a double-digit market share in urban Pakistan.
In the last 10 years, the brand has extended into Multi-Surface Cleaners, Hand Sanitisers and Cleansing Wipes, providing consumers access to germ-protection solutions across multiple categories. Today, Dettol is playing an active role in creating awareness about better hygiene practices.
Dettol’s School Programme reaches 2.5 million children nationally, who are taught hand-hygiene practices through edutainment and live demos.
Given the lack of antenatal education in Pakistan, Dettol has recently started an Antenatal Programme based on international guidelines and offers free antenatal classes to women in their third trimester around four key modules that cover topics such as pregnancy, labour, post-pregnancy and baby care. The aim now is to make it bigger year-on-year as we join hands with more hospitals.
Salman Taufiq is Marketing Manager, Germ Protection & Personal Care, Reckitt Benckiser Pakistan.
1970s & 80s: THE YEARS OF CREATIVITY
Despite significant strides made over seven decades, compelling factors are combining to tarnish advertising’s shine. Javed Jabbar elucidates why.
Reflection over seven decades defines, in a fine symmetry of numbers, seven positive themes and seven negative trends that cover advertising in Pakistan from 1947 to 2017.
At the risk of contrivance, yet purely coincidentally, the time span also divides into seven phases (time zones overlap).
• 1947-1964: Almost two decades of economic growth starting from scratch and mainly in print media.
• 1965-2017 (53 years): Radio Pakistan begins broadcasting commercials, with private, commercial FM radio commencing in 2002.
• 1947-1971 (24 years): Economy and media in a uniquely constructed two-wing Pakistan, until East Pakistan becomes Bangladesh.
• 1972-2017 (45 years): A new Pakistan, a new economy.
• 1964-1976 (12 years): PTV begins in black and white; then becomes coloured.
• 1947-2001 (54 years): State monopoly in electronic media.
• 2002 to date (15 years): Private TV and FM radio channels, digital media and other new media.
Three principal factors shape advertising. Economy. Mass media. Context. This period witnessed major internal upheavals, fast ascents, slowdowns and descents in economic progress, external, regional and global changes and new communication technology developments. In varying measure, these impacted advertising in Pakistan.
1. Human resource development. The seven positive directions are dominated by HR development. Several pioneers laid the foundations, made valuable contributions. In 2018, in numbers, quality, diversity, creativity and specialisation, the sector shows significant improvement.
Some examples of creative expression in the first three or four decades remain unrivalled. Today, there is an abundance of gifted people and a notable enhancement of professional capacity. This is due to an increase in demand and volume, as well as competitive pressures.
The visibility of women is the most socially significant advancement in HR.
2. Volume growth. Aided by the proliferation of TV channels onward of 2002, from a single state network monopoly, the number of channels operating in Pakistan today is over 15,000 (these include the channels of 3,000 plus cable distributors, which are permitted to broadcast five of their own in-house channels).
TV channels screen pirated foreign films and locally-originated content with micro-level advertising by shops, service-providers and macro-level advertisers.
Small-scale, localised advertising is largely undocumented and not part of published estimates. In radio, from the single state network monopoly from 1947 to 2001, to now over 150 private and university FM radio channels in 2018, advertising volume has grown dramatically.
Huge increases in advertising budgets of numerous government departments have accompanied similar huge growth in private sector budgets. Hundreds of regional newspapers and dozens of urban-based journals have expanded the print media’s pioneering advertising status. Plus all the below-the-line but above-the-level new increases.
3. New advertisers. New advertisers include political parties. In and between general elections, to mark birth and death anniversaries of leaders, announce public meetings and processions. As well as advertising by overseas aid donors, local public welfare, private charity and social service organisations which aim to mobilise funding.
4. Innovation. Innovation in form and content with the advent of the internet and digital media. Thanks to social media, a single individual has become an all-in-one; content-originator, content distributor, content consumer, content commentator. Millions of Pakistanis are simultaneously advertisers, media and target audiences.
5. Lifestyles – better and worse. Advertising has always had a relationship with livelihoods. More than ever, advertising in Pakistan is shaping aspirations, at the personal level and at class levels. The blooming of the multiple-level middle class, reflective of high population growth and the big youth demographic has created a new linkage between advertising, social attitudes and lifestyles. The impact is nebulous.
Some positive facets help demolish repressive cultural practices. But there is the adverse impact on food and diet through fast food and soft drinks; all the more ironic when UNICEF estimates that malnutrition causes enduring stunting in the minds and bodies of millions of Pakistani children.
6. Marketing success stories. In the past two decades, there is more in-depth attention applied. This priority underlines excessive dependence on Western textbooks and source material and the paucity of research-based textbooks focused on the Pakistani experience.
With some remarkable marketing success stories of Pakistani enterprises now analysed as case-studies in leading Western universities, a large vacuum in academia awaits fulfilment.
7. Journalism as discourse. The advent of specialised journals led by Aurora, which covers advertising and marketing, with an informed understanding that neither the daily print media nor electronic media do.
Aurora encourages factual reportage, thoughtful analysis, lively illustrations, stimulating exchanges on virtually all aspects of advertising in Pakistan.
With the contributions of other journals such as Slogan and Synergizer, discourse becomes possible to evaluate the advertising sector.
Like a bridge between the positive and the negative list which is about to commence, there is a dimension of the past 70 years which does not qualify for inclusion on the positive side because it comprises one-off events which have not been repeated.
The First Pakistan Advertising Congress was held in Karachi in September 1979. For the first time in the country’s history, all six segments relevant to advertising came together for structured dialogue. The six segments are advertisers, agencies, production services, media, government and consumers.
The Congress theme stressed context rather than only a profession’s narcissistic interests: ‘Advertising and National Development: Challenge and Response’.
Ten years later, in February 1989, Pakistan hosted the 16th Asian Advertising Congress in Lahore. It was a privilege for this writer to earlier serve as Secretary-General of the First Pakistan Congress, and later as Chairman AdAsia 89.
AdAsia 89 revived the rare, collaborative spirit of 1979. The work-sessions featured provocative, radical thinkers like Edward de Bono and a host of eminent international professionals. Social events were spectacular displays of Pakistan’s rich culture and cuisine set in resplendent historical sites.
Veterans from overseas countries were unanimous that AdAsia 89, attended by about 250 foreign and 600 Pakistani delegates, was the finest-ever AdAsia until then. In the decades since, productive cooperation and global recognition have not been secured on national and international levels.
In partial compensation, an advertising campaign made by our own creative talent at Impact BBDO won Pakistan’s first Gold Cannes Lion in 2015 and became the fifth ‘most awarded outdoor work’ in the world the same year.
1. Aggressive intrusion. Advertising has become Intrusive in unprecedented ways. It encroaches into spaces, forms and processes, previously reserved for non-commercial content or purposes.
Large advertisements on front pages of most newspapers (except the solitary exception of Dawn) that reverse news priorities. Frequent, long mid-breaks on TV and FM radio channels, with superimpositions and tickers on screen that diminish coherence and continuity. Commercially branded programmes and content titles.
No respect for the sacred or the dead. Verses of the Holy Quran on sponsored front page panels of newspapers. Soft drink logos desecrating the walls of mausoleums of great saints. State-owned, public service institutions, like the police and the Rangers, permitting toothpaste and paint brands to be prominent parts of traffic signs, boards, barriers and banners.
Billboards and poles are joined by noisy TV and FM radio spots. Ratings-based placement of advertising unhealthily shapes tone and content of programming.
2. Greed as creed. Going beyond meeting basic needs, advertising now promotes consumption and possession of objects and services as legitimate self-indulgence and expressions of success, thus stoking instant gratification as an abiding value.
3. Corruption. Earlier, corrupt practices were mainly found in government-controlled advertising and some agencies omitted to charge for production services in lieu of sizable budgets. In recent decades, the private sector has bred new versions.
Even some (not all) young brand managers, fresh with their MBAs, are forgetting any ethical values they have been taught and are reported to obtain kickbacks on production charges for TV commercials and media spends.
Meanwhile, not to be deprived of their original path-setting role, code-breakers in government departments are credibly reported to sponsor several ‘dummy’ publications, which receive official certificates falsely confirming high circulation to justify receiving large shares of budgets. A curious anomaly flourishes.
Whereas the rates for government advertising in print media are lower than for private, commercial advertisers, the opposite applies in private TV channels.
4. Institutional contrasts. In the institutional realm, there are sharp contrasts. Major advertisers have established the Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS).
Where previously the Marketing Association or the Management Association partly represented advertisers’ perspectives, PAS (for the first and sustained time) provides a forum that exclusively focuses on the advertising dimensions of corporate interests.
For their part, advertising agencies, which in times past infused a new activism and cohesion through their own representative body known as the Pakistan Advertising Association (PAA) declined into fractious internal strife, to be replaced briefly by the Advertising Agencies Association of Pakistan, until descending into dormancy.
This failure has, by default, strengthened media owners, particularly after cross-media ownership was indiscriminately permitted post-2002. With advertisers now compensating agencies on a creative fee basis instead of the traditional 15% commission on media spend, the capacity of agencies to counterbalance the dominance of advertisers, media and media buying houses has been weakened. This is only partially offset by some agencies opening their own media buying units.
5. Blurring lines. Part of advertising is about illusion. However, the fifth negative feature is the erosion, in advertising content, of the line that should always separate the projection of state-owned assets or activities from the individual identities of political leaders such as prime ministers or chief ministers.
Campaigns in print, electronic and outdoor media prominently project the faces and names of those who temporarily occupy public offices. These individuals may well have been responsible for policies and actions that advance development. But the funds used for development projects and for advertising, are public funds, entrusted to the state (not to political parties or individuals) by tax-paying citizens.
Blatant misuse has blurred the lines between partisan organisations pursuing electoral agendas and state institutions and programmes, which should be neutrally associated with all citizens, regardless of partisan identities.
6. Deception. Illusion becomes outright deception. Although largely limited to TV commercials, certain advertisers, including multinationals (that claim to be more ethical), insist on the production of TV spots in India, with attempts to pass off the images and sounds as Pakistani.
Those who can identify the obvious or subtle differences are not fooled. Neither perhaps is most of the audience. Technical resources and quality of services in Mumbai are certainly more proficient than what are available in Pakistan, yet using purely Pakistan-based resources, several commercials of exceptional quality have been produced.
Our government policies do not permit the screening of content imported directly from India – a provision openly violated by the sham practice of importing Bollywood feature-length films from offices located in overseas, non-Indian countries, for unfettered exhibition in theatres.
Notwithstanding this hypocrisy, it rankles greatly that advertisers based in Pakistan continue to use Mumbai-based facilities and faces to delude consumers.
7. Legal vacuum. The vacuum in advertising-specific legislation and regulation may explain why some or all of the other six negatives occur. The sparse legal framework commenced with the Indecent Advertisements (Prohibition) Act, 1951.
In the succeeding 65 years, other segmented laws, regulations and rules are supplemented by codes of each mass medium, censorship rules, etc. But to date, a comprehensive law has not been enacted to regulate the institutional dimensions of the advertising sector; to focus on the respective responsibilities of advertisers, agencies and related sectors; define the mechanisms for respective representative bodies; specify minimal professional qualifications for advertising practitioners; establish accountability processes and mandate public service aspects of advertising.
Yet, better late than never. Sometimes good laws, however belated, ensure continuity of positive attributes and reduction or elimination of negative practices. And exploration of new horizons. Let the work begin, with advocacy by the advertising sector itself calling for enlightened legislation.
Javed Jabbar is a former Senator and Federal Minister for Information; he co-founded MNJ Communications in 1969, and received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pakistan Advertisers’ Society in 2015. He can be contacted at www.javedjabbar.com
PTV’S PARADISE LOST
Soon after PTV was launched in 1964, the station went from strength to strength in terms of reach and penetration, providing the advertising industry with an exciting new medium to display their creativity. Yet, by the turn of the century, the station was to lose its dominant position and fall into irrelevance. Mamun M. Adil examines the factors that contributed to PTV’s rise and fall.
Be they advertising professionals or members of the general public, many people are of the opinion that the sixties and seventies were the ‘golden age’ of Pakistani advertising. It was then that some of the best commercials were produced (some remembered to this day).
Although the reason for this is widely attributed to the people who led the agencies, another player with a claim to an equally significant role in the creation of this advertising is Pakistan Television (PTV).
Early days. But first, a detour
What is not generally known is that Philips TV was the first channel aired in Pakistan. This was in Karachi in October 1962. The programming, which included recitations from the Quran, news, general knowledge shows and music, was aired from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
To increase penetration, Philips imported 200 TV sets and placed them in public spaces (clubs, educational institutions, hospitals, hotels and parks) and some were gifted to a select number of individuals. In the light of these developments, it was expected that Philips would be given the contract to establish a station called Pilot TV (Rahbar TV in Urdu).
As it turned out, the contract was awarded to the Japanese company Nippon Electric Company (NEC), in partnership with Wazir Ali Industries. Pilot TV’s first station was established on the grounds of Radio Pakistan’s office in Lahore, and went on air on November 26, 1964.
Aslam Azhar was appointed as Chairman and Managing Director by President Ayub Khan. Similar to Philips, Pilot TV’s programming was limited to three hours a day, six days a week (Mondays were a holiday) and TV sets were set up in public sites. In fact, such was the interest that their presence resulted in traffic jams that were so chaotic that some of the sets had to be removed.
After a 90-day experimental phase, a private company called Television Promoters Company was formed in partnership with NEC, the Gosho Company (Japan), Thomson Television (UK) and the Government of Pakistan (with controlling shares). The logo was designed by the well-known artist Abdur Rehman Chughtai, who also conceived the Radio Pakistan logo.
The company imported 8,000 sets, which were sold for Rs 800 to 1,000. Subsequently, the government allowed nine firms to assemble TV sets in Pakistan and within three years, the estimated number of sets rose to 45,000. By this time, the name was changed from Television Promoters Company to PTV – a public limited company.
Securing commercial airtime
Ziauddin Jeddi, former Sales Controller at PTV, recalls the myriad problems that arose when it came to securing advertising, mainly because the concept was a new one until then, commercials only appeared on cinema screens.
The first commercial aired on PTV was for NEC televisions, despite the fact that they were not readily available in Pakistan. Telops, which contained a single line about a brand, were the primary form of advertising.
At times, the design of a print ad was replicated for this purpose, and eventually, a voiceover complemented the cards. The first brands to take advantage of this were Dalda and Capstan; the durations ranged between seven and 15 seconds. Jeddi remembers meeting the heads of leading agencies and encouraging them to shoot commercials. PTV even went to the extent of lending the agencies video cameras.
According to data sourced from PTV, between 1966 and 1967, approximately 62 hours of commercials were aired; this number increased by more than 233% the following year reaching 220 hours, and then doubled in the subsequent year. Within about 10 years, programmes, such as Neelam Ghar and Khabarnama, were introduced in addition to several drama serials that are remembered to this day. A TV licence fee was introduced in 1970, which resulted in a sizable revenue stream in addition to advertising.
Impact of colour
The introduction of colour in 1976 was a major boom driver for TV commercials. Within a few years, an average of six hours of programming was aired, two of which were in colour. As far as penetration was concerned, in 1964 it amounted to a mere nine percent; by 1978 it reached 72.5% with at least a million sets in place, making TV a truly ‘mass medium’.
Advertising minutes amounted to approximately 35 minutes daily and the average cost per second ranged from Rs 110 ($11) to Rs 183 ($18). Sectors such as FMCGs, financial institutions and personal care products accounted for nearly 66% of the advertising. Furthermore, all the stations (Dhaka, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta) were linked, thus permitting PTV to charge higher rates for commercials aired on all stations.
In an article published in Dawn in the eighties, Javed Jabbar pointed out that although “advertising in the cinema existed before the seventies, the advent of television stimulated the birth and growth of entirely new talent aiming to specialise in the creation of TV film commercials.”
He added that the advertising profession, partially as a result of TV advertising, began to attract people. “Whereas earlier, advertising was a little-known profession, dismissed as a minor sidekick to print media, advertising in the seventies emerged as an independent and specialised profession, the only one in the country where multimedia skills were needed and where they appeared to exist.”
Monopoly hey days
By the late eighties, according to data published in Dawn, total advertising revenue amounted to Rs 1.6 billion, of which 34% was allotted to TV, while print commanded 44% and radio, outdoor, direct marketing and other media had a combined share of 22%.
The sectors that advertised on PTV the most were food, drinks and powdered milk (29.6%), personal care products (12.8%), clothing (seven percent), electronic appliances (6.9%), pharmaceutical products (6.8%), the government (5.6%) and cigarettes (4.1%). Live sports transmissions were becoming increasingly common, many of which were sponsored and a number of advertising options were introduced, in addition to regular spots.
These included mid-break spots which were among the most expensive. Then there were ‘special position spots’ – commercials aired before dramas or the Khabarnama began. Then there were single and multiple sponsorship options; if a brand sponsored a TV show, their name was announced before the show began and only the sponsor’s commercials were aired during the course of the programme.
The satellite invasion
Despite mounting criticism of PTV due to their high rates, monopoly and the fact that it was considered to be a government mouthpiece, revenues continued to grow year-on-year throughout the nineties – despite the fact that foreign satellite channels had begun to transmit to Pakistan via satellite.
In 1992, PTV launched PTV 2, their first satellite channel (renamed PTV World in 1998). By the end of the decade, the penetration of foreign satellite channels had increased significantly as even low-income neighbourhoods gained access to them via cable. However, although PTV’s viewership was impacted to an extent, the advertising revenue, for the most part, was not.
The Star invasion began in the early 2000s, bringing with it the popular saas bahu dramas into Pakistani homes, followed by a plethora of local satellite channels after the opening up of the media by President Musharraf; their advent signalled the beginning of the end of PTV’s market leadership.
Decline into irrelevance
According to data in Aurora’s November-December 2002 edition, that year, satellite channels such as Indus, ARY and BBC started to gain traction among audiences. At that time, 20% of advertising spend went to satellite TV and the remainder went to PTV; by 2004, the figure for satellite reached almost 50%, with more entrants such as Geo commanding a significant piece of the pie.
The rest, as they say, is history. By 2008, PTV commanded only 24% of the share, and within the next five years, by FY 2012-13, PTV’s leadership days were over. As of the last fiscal year, the channel commands a mere five percent of the total ad spend, preceded by at least six satellite channels, including Hum, ARY Digital, Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Urdu 1, whose shares range between five and 10 percent.
Part of the reason of the decline is attributed to the fact that PTV did not keep up with changing times in terms of programming and could not compete with the glossier dramas and sensationalist news programmes that defined the new generation of satellite channels.
Although today it seems easy to dismiss PTV as a ‘has-been’ channel, it is important to remember that the station served as an effective training ground for many of the producers, directors and writers who went on to work at, or establish, the channels we watch today, not to mention providing the advertising industry with a platform to showcase what can possibly be termed their best work to date.
Mamun M. Adil is a leading advertising and communications expert at Aurora. He can be contacted at email@example.com
TAKING A BOW AND SAYING THANK YOU TO PTV
Asad-ur-Rehman on PTV’s starring role in the development of the advertising industry.
Say what you may about PTV today, but there wouldn’t have been an ad industry without PTV.
PTV pivoted the Pakistan ad industry into a sizeable existence in 1964. TV across the world had a similar impact – especially in markets where public broadcasting allowed advertising to coexist. Many of us at the time thought that the advertising on PTV was ridiculously expensive; furthermore, we had very little knowledge of how to produce a TV ad. Many people also said that a poor country like Pakistan would never be able to afford a luxury like PTV and that it would remain the entertainment of the elite before it eventually died.
Such views grossly underestimated the power of mass broadcast as we know it today. By 1996 (within four years), PTV was reaching 40% of the population and by the mid-seventies, PTV had not only added colour to its broadcast, but it also had the ability to reach 75% of the population – extended to 90% within a few years.
This level of reach is considered impossible in today’s world, and at that time, led to transformative growth in consumer culture and advertising spending. Aslam Azhar should be crowned the father of mass advertising in Pakistan.
Advertising creativity learnt a lot from the mass audio-visual culture PTV was developing. Kamal Ahmed Rizvi, Tariq Aziz, Khawaja Moinuddin, Shoaib Hashmi and Saleema Hashmi taught the industry how to tell stories on the small screen and the impact of their work can be felt even today. These founders created what has become our unique style of storytelling; be it dramas on TV or advertising.
From its inception to the time its monopoly was broken in the nineties, PTV brought a great deal of discipline to the industry. Although most of us complained about the lack of ‘flexibility’, it was PTV’s uncompromising stance on advertising at a certain rate that boosted ad expenditure. We never thought we would say this, but we need to take a bow and say: “Thank you PTV” for what they built for us.
Asad-ur-Rehman is leading Unilever’s Digital Transformation & Media in Middle East/North Africa. The views presented are his own.
WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN...
Leon Menezes on the swing of Karachi’s music scene.
Up to the mid-seventies, the music scene in Karachi revolved around nightclubs and dance evenings. From engagements to weddings and mid-summer dances to New Year’s Eve balls, Karachi was swinging and rocking and rolling. The wonderful part about this was that the music was provided by live bands. Every single one of them.
NYE was a particularly busy time, with not just the big hotels hosting events but everybody and his brother vying to ‘ring in the new year’, with a party of his own. A few of the embassies (Karachi was then the capital), all the private clubs, and some wealthy individuals also did their bit to add to the festivity.
In the earlier days, the bands were traditional ‘combos’ consisting of pianos, drums, double bass and clarinets or saxophones. The style was jazz or ‘swing’ and band members wore smartly turned out ‘uniforms’ – either full black with ties or dinner jackets. Foreign and local ensembles had innocuous names such a Pat Blake’s Orchestra, Stephen Eros Orchestra, Francisco and His Boys, and Soc Penalosa and his Filipino Orchestra. There were also the Rhythm Quintet, the Moonglows and the Drifters.
By the sixties, electric guitars, and later, the electronic keyboards appeared. This coincided with music moving more to rock and pop but still being primarily for dancing. The use of amplifiers for the electric equipment added much volume to the occasion, upping the overall experience. That changed the scene at the venues that catered to the non-cabaret nightlife.
The local bands that were big in the late sixties till the early seventies, played six nights a week at some of the major spots including the Talismen (007 at Beach Luxury), the In-Crowd (Discotheque, hotel Metropole), and the Keynotes (Nasreen Room, IHC). The Samar at the Metropole usually offered foreign acts and one particularly popular band were the Singapore-based October Cherries. They did amazing covers of popular songs and endeared themselves to the clientele.
Another stand-out artist was the buxom Australian beauty Wilma Reading, whose singing and outfits captivated like nothing else. The odd thing about the discotheque was the live band (discos play records) dominating, with the recorded music getting 15-minute slots each hour.
Other venues to have bands – yes, there were many of them – included the Four Aces (opposite the Central Hotel), the Village (on the corner of Metropole), Mehran Hotel, the Midway House (at the airport) and even the Grand Hotel in Malir (weekends only). These were the regular gigs aspiring musicians worked towards and along the way, got to play at all the other events when available.
Hotels outdid each other to advertise their performing artists and events with the Intercontinental Hotel and Metropole leading the way. ‘Fashion 70’, a luncheon show; ‘Formula 2’, a duo from Australia; ‘Los 5 Ches’, a Spanish orchestra at the Beach Luxury; Palace Hotel’s Le Gourmet had ‘5 Pellicani’, billed as ‘Europe’s most popular orchestra.’ Of course, no one really was concerned by the claims of international standing, but it all added to the mystique of an alluring evening.
All in all, it was a great time to be young or old, wealthy or not so, to have fun in Karachi. You could always find music to suit your taste and pocket. Hmm, nostalgia, you are so sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. Don’t you wish you were there?
Leon Menezes is a former member of the band, The In-Crowd, and currently professor-of-practice.
PIA: AN ACRONYM OF LOVE AND DESPAIR
Faraz Maqsood Hamidi on the pride and frustration the national airline evokes in Pakistanis.
Pakistan is in possession of three love letters. They are an undisputed source of pride for the country. But they are also a source of contention. Because, although these three letters may seem innocuous on the outside, they have caused much scandal, intrigue and heartbreak on the inside. These letters are known to everyone. Everyone has an opinion about them.
Some claim that their provenance is original – and that the wear and tear is a natural, if not obvious, consequence of unrequited love. On the surface, it might be a story of betrayal, false-heartedness or even the kiss of Judas.
Like the windswept tales from our folklore, these letters have taken a beating and have allowed time to manifest itself in the shape of scars on its ravaged, reminiscent visage. And yet, they argue, there must be an otherworldly tenacity inscribed into these letters – for they remain held together by an invisible force that prevails, despite the relentless advances of duplicity and fraudulence. These letters were born to be timeless, they say.
The critics and casual readers of these letters will be quick to point out that the outwardly romance in these letters is merely an eyewash for a business transaction. They are merely the overture, the advances that would lead to mercantile trysts.
These letters, they bellow; they still reek of the scent of Anarkali – for how can a courtesan to the rich and the powerful ever be believed of carrying anything other than a heart that pumps ink, instead of blood?
The letters are deceptive. Sly and scheming. It is not age but a misplaced sense of privilege and self-entitlement that has hollowed out their souls into soundless echoes.
THE FIRST LETTER
The first letter is the story of Pakistan. It is the proud declaration of a newly born state that minted her independence out of a quest for sovereignty. And in her sovereign state, she passed her most valuable asset – her name – to her fleet of domestic and international ambassadors, who were directed to showcase the spirit of a new nation, its drive and ambition, its prowess to turn the odds in its favour.
And, to fly the flag – which, ironically, was never discernibly showcased on its green and white garb until very recently. Perhaps this letter always knew that to make a place in the world, it must first cater to the tastes, demands and standards of the world, in a world class way, before it sets upon any national agenda that it wishes for the world to accommodate.
THE SECOND LETTER
The second letter is the story of being international. Not just in name. But in action and in spirit.
Being ‘International’ is not about intercontinental destinations; rather, it is the accommodating attribute of greatness that celebrates being intra-national, multicultural and multi-racial. Wide-ranging and far-reaching diversity stalls fossilisation and fuels innovation.
After all, the second letter proclaims, when we have arrived at these gates, we will also understand the power of what it means to be all-embracing.
For once we do, we will act with what the French call savoir-faire: that poise and grace that is demanded of us in dealing with social situations; or what the Italians call sprezzatura: that seemingly effortless ease that comes after much careful study, so that actions look and feel invitingly spontaneous.
The love child of the right combination of savoir-faire and sprezzatura is glamour; that irresistible quality that can seduce the eye, bewitch the soul and enrich the bottom-line.
THE THIRD LETTER
The third letter is the story of the Airline. It is many pages long. Perhaps too many – so that it compels readers to skim through important passages and invent summations of their own. The third letter speaks of achievements that were global in their scale; it boasts of a number of firsts listed under a chapter entitled ‘Hey Days?’ It speaks of countless opportunities, rare records that remain unbroken and enviable coverage by the world media of an Airline that seemed to have cracked the code to becoming the Star of the East.
It speaks of designers, the likes of Pierre Cardin (who kick-started the Space Age in fashion with his use of tunics, goggles and helmets) and Hardy Amies (who dressed Queen Elizabeth II) – both of whom were commissioned to capture the zeitgeist of the times and have it hemmed into the airline’s uniforms.
It speaks of the changing liveries and brings to light delightful trivia like the one about a Chinese calligrapher who worked at Negus & Negus (a London-based brand identity firm that created the world’s most visible tailfin for us and was responsible for two iconic livery overhauls); who used a Chinese brush to script the Urdu brand marque without knowing how to read or write the language.
It speaks of advertising giants like Leo Burnett, who coined ‘Great People to Fly With’; or David Ogilvy, who made our passengers feel ‘Just Like (they were) Coming Home’; or Linda Locke who spearheaded our most awarded advertising campaign by answering why ‘You’re Flying With Extraordinary People’.
It speaks of all this. And more. Until the ink begins to fade and new interpretations begin to take hold of our greatest brand. Our greatest love story.
These letters are known to you as P.I.A.; Independently, they are the name of our national airline. Inter-dependently, they spell Pia. Which is to say: ‘She, who is beloved’.
These letters. Three letters. Our letters.
Faraz Maqsood Hamidi is Co-Founder, Partner & Chief Creative Officer of The D’Hamidi Partnership.
THE SINGULARITY OF THE WRITTEN WORD
Unlike today, when advertising relies heavily on technology to gloss up the visual effect, there was a time when advertisements were powered by words alone to express a strong idea. Rashna Abdi recollects some of the most memorable examples of this era.
Advertising, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: “The act of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements.”
These announcements require two things: art direction and copywriting. Both are found in equal measure in the nascent days of Pakistani advertising. Going through the archives, what strikes me is that while we have moved forward with the art direction – thanks to advances in technology – the ability to convey a concept engagingly or tell a story in a few words, may perhaps be a thing of the past.
And no one quite managed to do it as well as Mr Javed Jabbar.
An alumni of the agency I now work for, Mr Jabbar later co-founded MNJ with two other IAL alumni, Nafees Ghaznavi and Majeed Ahmed. The three of them, along with Naseer Haider, were the first people PIA recruited for their fledgling in-house advertising agency.
They were trained in London by seasoned British advertisers. As an advertising person with a copy background, I still look up to the iconic concepts and copy produced by Mr Javed Jabbar, some, while he was at IAL, others at MNJ.
Here are some examples of his best work from the late sixties to the mid-seventies:
The Peek Freans Pied Piper
If you grew up in the seventies, eighties or even the early nineties, you could not have missed the Peek Freans Pied Piper. Far before its time, the brand positioned itself as a snack between meals – and not just a tea accompaniment, with the Pied Piper enticing us to a world of sweet and savoury biscuit treats.
Before Gold Leaf became a paan shop staple, it was a classy brand in the eighties. The Gold Leaf man was a sophisticated art connoisseur with an elegant lady by his side.
A single line communicated the idea with a visual that captured a moment in this man’s life. Incredibly brave, if you ask me. Today, you would get a display of Photoshop skills and a scrimmage of words to convey every single possible reason to buy the product.
Know Your Country
The tourism ads written by Mr Jabbar in the late sixties are my all-time favourites – I am deeply envious of the copy and the idea. Whether it was the witty spin on the age and beauty of Miss Moenjodaro, the pithy reference to Alexander or celebrating the legendary shores of Cox’s Bazar, even today they can help you get to know your country, or at least what it used to be.
Whether it was the print ad that cleverly transformed the L into a road, as well as a metaphor for being several steps ahead or the evocative ‘A Woman Will Always Be Lyla’ campaign, Mr Jabbar’s work for Lawrencepur turned it into the most desired clothing brand.
It would take several years for (the now defunct) Mohammad Farooq Textile Mills to grab attention in the same way. Until then, every woman wanted to be Lyla and every man aspired to wear a Lawrencepur suit.
For people who don’t know this, Midway House used to be Karachi’s upmarket airport hotel. Located near the old airport at Star Gate, Midway House did in fact ‘begin where Karachi left off’ and was where you could ‘take a cool, detached view’ of the city, whether by chilling by the pool or dancing the night away on New Year’s Eve. I wouldn’t mind some of that. Would you?
Some of the best advertising from the sixties through to the eighties was for PIA. And in the early days at IAL, the copy was written by Mr Jabbar, when it was an airline that competed with the best in the West and the Middle East carriers were a mere twinkle in the eyes of the Arab Sheikhs.
It was incredibly brave of Mr Jabbar and his team to produce ads exhorting religious tolerance at a time when tolerance was under fire. Written as a public service campaign, in collaboration with the evening newspaper, the Star, these ads succinctly capture a point of view and a fervent prayer.
There have been some iconic TV campaigns but with the increasing reliance on visuals, music and glamour to tell a story, the ability to do so with a handful of words is a dying art. At least in Pakistan.
So, for a change, when we celebrate the best of Pakistani advertising over the last 70 years, let’s pay homage to a man who did this incredibly well.
Rashna Abdi is Chief Creative Officer, IAL Saatchi & Saatchi. She tweets at @rsabdi.
CREATIVE ESSENCE AND BRASS TACKS
Mamun M. Adil highlights MNJ’s unique role as an incubator
If you ask anyone to recall a memorable advertisement from the seventies, the chances are high that they will cite one that was released by MNJ Communications.
The advertising agency, which was formed in 1969 by three admen (Javed Jabbar, Nafees Ghaznavi and Majeed Ahmed) and was led by Jabbar, who, it would not be an exaggeration to say, is admired by most admen and women and usually referred to as ‘JJ’.
Under Jabbar’s supervision, MNJ flourished. He is credited for being the brains behind many memorable campaigns, including those for Peek Freans ‘Listen to the sound of the day, follow him around and away’.
Such was the power of his idea that the Pied Piper continues to have a presence on the brand’s packaging to this day; other memorable lines include ‘Lyla is a Lady’ and the famous Alexander ad, development for the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation Pakistan: ‘Guess who came to Pakistan the other day? Alexander.’
In addition to being responsible for creative campaigns in the seventies and eighties, MNJ played another pivotal role when it came to advancing Pakistan’s advertising industry. It turns out that many of the people who worked there went on to shape the future of the industry by becoming trailblazers in their own right, as well as training a new generations of advertising people.
There are too many to name, but they include Shahnoor Ahmed, CEO, Spectrum Y&R; Mariam Ali Baig, Founding Editor, Aurora; Saneeya Hussain, a communications icon who later worked as the weekend Editor of Star and as Communications Director at IUCN; Seema Taher Khan, CEO, Airwaves Media; Taher Anwar Khan, Chairman, Interflow Communications and Zohra Yusuf, Chief Creative Officer, Spectrum Y&R.
Anybody who is ‘somebody’ in the industry has, in some way, been trained or influenced by them, which in a way, speaks volumes for Jabbar’s legacy.
So what made MNJ an incubator par excellence? The answer, it is the ‘company culture’ Jabbar created – and this, years, if not decades, before the term became an HR buzzword.
In fact, from what one can gather from speaking to the people who worked at MNJ, it is safe to conclude that Jabbar actively mentored his employees – at least the ones who showed promise. He was always ready to teach and inspire.
Yusuf, in an article she wrote in Meet our friend JJ says: “In the 3,650 or more days I spent at MNJ, I never stopped learning. And Javed Jabbar never hesitated to teach. Not only me, but anyone willing to listen; open their minds and explore. We were encouraged (if not gently ordered) to see major films, particularly foreign films shown at various cultural centres, as well as go to the theatre… JJ ensured that creative people did not remain in their familiar cocoons. He would send us off to Kharadar one week, Orangi another.”
Jabbar encouraged his employees to read books written by influential advertising people, such as the seminal Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy and Jerry Della Femina’s From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbour (later to become the inspiration for the TV show Mad Men).
Having sent his team off to read a book, watch a film or go to an art show, Jabbar would then encourage them to write reviews on their perceptions – and always ready to go through their efforts line by line, helping them hone their skills.
It was not all fun and games at MNJ. Ahmed recalls that “working with JJ was a unique experience; he was a slave driver who had the ability to lead his team and make work look like fun. He was in the office early and liked to work late. The two years I spent at MNJ defined my future and working with JJ opened my mind and gave me the confidence to venture out on my own.”
As Ahmed says, working late was the norm at MNJ, and many other former MNJ employees can attest to this. However, according to the people who remember, those late nights not only resulted in creative campaigns – but in ‘camaraderie and spirit’ between the team, many of whom either work with each other today, or have remained friends.
This, perhaps, is due to the fact that although they worked in different departments, be it production, creative or client services while at MNJ, they were exposed to each other’s functions and did not work in silos, as is wont to happen today.
Such was Jabbar’s influence that he even inspired people who did not work with him.
For example, according to Masood Hashmi, President, OrientmMcCann: “I always tried to adopt Mr Jabbar’s way of driving things and managing constructive inputs to lead a team in the right direction. From a distance, I kept learning from his greatness at work, while gaining inspiration from his mindset.” The inspiration was not limited to work; Hashmi confesses that he wanted to “be like Mr Jabbar… I wanted to eat, walk, talk and think like him.”
Perhaps it is Baig who best sums up the influence of MNJ – and, obviously Jabbar’s – on the advertising industry. “‘Creative Essence and Brass Tacks’ was the motto crafted for MNJ when JJ established the agency. His genius was that he succeeded in making this motto part of the DNA of the people who spent their formative professional years working closely with him.”
Mamun M. Adil is a leading advertising and communications expert at Aurora. firstname.lastname@example.org
IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE...
Musical impresario Arshad Mahmud speaks about his long association with the advertising sector.
On starting his career in advertising
I worked as an Account Executive at Prestige in the early seventies; one of the major campaigns I worked on was for Servis shoes. We rejuvenated the jingle ‘Sheher Sheher gaon main, sab ke paon main Servis Shoes Servis Shoes, sab ke paon mein’ and this time, the jingle was sung by Nayyara Noor.
We also came up with a new tagline for Servis’ injection moulded sole (IMS) shoes: ‘Step into elegance, Step into comfort’; it was translated into Urdu as ‘Qadam qadam haseen, qadam qadam araam.’
On the brands he worked on
There were several, including Capri, Lipton, UBL and Johnson’s Baby Lotion. For the latter, I composed a lullaby and asked Nayyara Noor to sing it. Another jingle which was appreciated was sung by Bunny for CandyLand, ‘Singing away under the sun’.
The last jingle that I composed was for PEL in 2016. The music was based on one of my older compositions – Koi baat karo (Say something). It was sung by Tina Sani with lyrics by Hasan Akbar Kamal. The TVC’s objective was to launch PEL’s ‘talking refrigerator’ and showed a couple who were having a fight; the wife was not talking to her husband and the lines worked well in this context.
On the jingles of the sixties and seventies
So many come to mind, such as ‘Kapas ki chandi ko sona banai’ which means ‘turn the silver white of cotton into gold.’ It was used to advertise a pesticide. There was another one for Philips: ‘Jahan jahan suraj dhallay, Philips ke bulb aur tube jalay,’ which means ‘wherever the sun sets, Philips’ bulbs are lit.’
The jingles in the earlier days were very conceptual in terms of their construction and these two are prime examples of good ideas that gel and stick in your mind.
Other memorable ones include ‘Hum to jaane seedhi baat, sabun ho to 707’ for 707 detergent soap; ‘Jahan mamta, wahan Dalda’; and ‘Ab bhi tawana, jab bhi tawana,’ for Tullo.
On the big names in radio jingles
Talat Hussain was a popular voice-over artist. Others included Pervaiz Basheer and Hasan Shaheed Mirza. As far as composers were concerned, there was Sabir Saheb and Anjum Effendi, who composed the Peek Freans jingle with Alamgir.
Then there was Sohail Rana, who composed delightful pieces, including ‘Phool gudi laye’ for Politrin C, another pesticide. Many acclaimed writers, such as Shabeeh Farooqi and Shahid Kazmi wrote lyrics for jingles from time to time.
Once I requested Faiz Saheb to write a jingle for National Masalas. Even though it was an outstanding piece of advertising, the client didn’t like it and never used it. I was very young then and at that time, nobody probably believed me that Faiz Ahmed Faiz had written it.
On working for the musical composition for Dawn’s Lahore launch TVC in 1996
I rendered the line at the end of the TVC, ‘Dekho dekho saher aye... gaya andhera.’ I came up with it and it worked well as a tagline for Dawn.
The line and tune came to mind when I saw the beautiful images that Imran Mir, who was part of the creative team, had shot, and they served as a source of inspiration; the first scene was that of a door opening and as the light enters the room, Dawn slides in.
That visual inspired me and Hameed Haroon. We spent hours in the studio having intense discussions before finalising the melody.
On the musical composition for the Dawn Islamabad launch TVC in 1998
It was set in a different raag (a form of classical music) and the score was slightly different; this time, Ustad Nafees Ahmed rendered the line. The Lahore version was based on the Gujri todi raag, which is a morning raag; for the Islamabad TVC, I used the koshak dhani raag. I think that the use of the surindo (a musical instrument) by Faqir Mohammad in the Islamabad version added another dimension to the background score.
On the future of jingles in Pakistan
Advertising agencies and their clients need to believe in the power of music to create recall for their products. One of the problems is that people are not coming up with solid melodic structures anymore; they are not chosen because of their talent; instead, they are chosen because they are referred by other people.
The other issue is that clients no longer want their creative teams to be creative; they want them to produce imitations of music that they like. They should leave the creative work to the artists instead of interfering; only then will they come up. My friend, the late Amir Zaki, said something profound in this regard: “If I don’t tell them [the clients] how to make supari, why do they tell me how to make music?”
Arshad Mahmud was in conversation with Mamun M. Adil, a leading advertising and communications expert at Aurora. Mamun can be contacted at email@example.com
GOING UP IN SMOKE!
Zohra Yusuf reflects on the lost splendour of cigarette advertising.
Periodically, people post tobacco ads from the thirties or forties with endorsements from doctors such as: “The doctor smokes and recommends Capstan – the cigarette for health as well as pleasure!”
However, considering the strict restrictions worldwide on tobacco advertising today, it may be appropriate to quote a popular line from the category’s own advertising of the swinging seventies: ‘You’ve come a long way, baby!’ This was a line used for Eve cigarettes, designed to lure women smokers.
With our current knowledge of the hazards of smoking, it is perhaps not right to see the past advertising of cigarettes through rose-tinted glasses. Yet, cigarette advertising of the seventies and eighties was highly successful, with a personification of glamour that left an indelible mark on advertising trends of those decades. Each brand strove to create a distinct persona in a highly competitive market.
Capstan, a brand of Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC), was perhaps the first to film commercials abroad, beginning in the sixties. With the theme ‘Men demand Capstan the world over, it attracted smokers with images of famous cities where the brand appeared as the preferred one. This was at a time when Pakistani audiences were not so widely exposed to the world beyond their own borders and the campaign continued to enchant smokers with new locales for over a decade or so. Its authoritative tone of voice also contributed to adding credibility to the claim.
Before Wills (also a PTC brand) became the sole sponsor of cricket in Pakistan, it was sold on the promise of companionship – a young couple was shown sharing Wills with the tagline, ‘They go together, like the smooth Wills filter and the fine Wills blend.’
Wills was not the only brand to show women enjoying a smoke. Premier Tobacco’s Red & White is still remembered for their theme of ‘Satisfaction’. Their most memorable commercial broke two taboos associated with women in Pakistan – smoking and flying. The commercial showed a young woman flying a private aircraft and, of course, acquiring ‘satisfaction’ from getting ‘away from the ordinary’. By the late seventies and eighties, women had exited from cigarette advertising and brands went back to macho images.
PTC was the indisputable leader throughout the decades when cigarettes were freely promoted in the media. It dictated both trends in brand identity, packaging graphics and colours and advertising.
Their flagship brand, Gold Leaf, was the most expensive local brand, evoking images of exclusivity, good taste and wealth. In the late seventies and early eighties, based on the theme of ‘For the Taste Alone’, Gold Leaf projected men as discerning collectors of art and artefacts. This success inspired Lakson Tobacco’s Morven Gold to adopt Gold Leaf’s red and gold colours in their packaging, positioning the brand at those who aspired to smoke Gold Leaf but could not afford to. To further uplift their image, Morven Gold commercials were filmed in exotic locations. Another of Lakson’s brands, Princeton, entered the market as the longest cigarette with the positioning of ‘The Big One’!
Sports began to acquire cigarette sponsorships in a big way in the late seventies and eighties.
The contradiction in seeking support from an obviously unhealthy product was apparently lost on the sports bodies. The biggest winner in this highly competitive game of sponsorship was Wills. Sometime in the early eighties, they managed to get the cricket board to agree to title all matches in which Pakistan was playing as the ‘Wills Cricket Series’.
Complemented with awards for ‘Wills Man of the Match’, ‘Wills Man of the Series’ and so on, the brand launched a series of commercials profiling the top players of the time. However, since our players have traditionally been unpredictable, they often performed badly just when a Wills commercial praising their skills was aired, much to the sponsors’ chagrin!
Since cricket – the most glamorous of sports – had become the exclusive property of Wills, other brands had to settle for ‘lesser’ sports. Lakson Tobacco’s Royals Filter began to sponsor football, which perhaps gave a boost to the game. Other lower-priced ones had to opt for sports such as wrestling and kabbadi.
In the mid-nineties, manufacturers and their advertising agencies began to be confronted with restrictions on the promotion of cigarettes in the mass media. Initially, cigarette commercials were banned from primetime. The challenge of this hurdle led to Morven Gold’s iconic ‘Rhythm of Unity’ commercial, which refrained from showing the product, but through breathtaking shots of Pakistan’s heritage, managed to place the brand on primetime! The commercial culminated in a formation of the brand’s logo.
Today, with alert regulators, the capacity of tobacco companies to promote their products is severely limited – the companies can only do personal selling to smokers. However, since the leading companies continue to be extremely profitable, it is clear that sales are being made through strategies that may be surreptitious but effective.
Zohra Yusuf is Chief Creative Officer, Spectrum Y&R.
THE CENSORSHIP DILEMMA
Censorship under the Zia regime had a draconian impact on TV advertising, which was subject to the arbitrary whims and fancies of members in the Censor Board. Three decades later, practitioners Javed Jabbar and Anwar Rammal reflect on those tension-laden years.
Javed Jabbar: No objections whatsoever to smiling
“There were both negative and positive facets. The negative part was that one had to think twice about how to depict a woman in a commercial. On the other hand, when you have restrictions like these, you search for more innovative ways to express yourself aesthetically without crossing the red line.
We were not alone in facing this. There are many examples from world cultural history. In 1979, after the Iranian Revolution, an extremely conservative government came to power. Despite the severe restrictions, over the next 20 to 25 years, Iranian cinema became one of the best in the world because they mastered the art of storytelling and were able to depict so many realistic facets of Iran.
When restrictions are in place, if you are creative and thoughtful, you find ways of creative expression. MNJ did a campaign for Happy (a new EBM brand targeting a new niche: the middle and upper middle-income groups). We opted for a single shot commercial and the camera begins to close in on the face of a female model who smiles and the voiceover said, “be happy, have a biscuit.”
No one could object to someone being there and smiling. There was nothing obscene about this; she was not lewdly dressed. In the commercial for Tuk biscuits, the last shot was of a woman’s fist knocking to the beat of ‘tuk tuk’ and this became the brand’s signature; people registered high brand awareness of Tuk.
So, we managed to find ways to show women in ads while remaining within the censorship guidelines. In the early eighties, MNJ was proud to become the first agency in Pakistan to develop ads marking International Women’s Day with provocative headlines.
When there was a religious riot in the country in 1981, I had the privilege of writing an ad in The Star, which is a personal favourite and went: ‘Religious passion without human compassion is like God without godliness.”
Excepted from an interview with Javed Jabbar.
Anwar Rammal: strictly no winking, please!
In the late seventies, under General Ziaul Haq’s Martial Law regime, stringent censorship laws with regard to the media were introduced.
Although the penalties were extreme for journalists, ranging from 10 years in jail to public lashings, these policies also affected the advertising fraternity, as commercials aired on PTV were scrutinised and banned without reason. What made matters worse was the fact that the censorship code frequently changed so that having a commercial approved by the Censor Board became increasingly difficult, as most commercials were rejected on flimsy grounds. This resulted in financial loss to many clients.
For the most part, advertising agencies had to resort to an approach that boiled down to saying: ‘Please buy the product.’ Although a few advertising professionals did find ways to overcome this obstacle, many creative people became increasingly frustrated as they had no choice but stifle their creativity.
At times, I had to go to Islamabad to convince the Censor Board to approve our commercials. More often than not, we ended up wasting time and money, as we returned to Karachi with large cans of censored film reels. This happened so many times that eventually, many clients began to reduce their media budgets for TV and opted for newspaper advertisements or hoardings.
Of the many instances when Asiatic’s commercials were censored, I remember two distinctly. The first was one for Agfa cameras, because the actor who was shown taking a photograph in the commercial closed one of his eyes while doing so, and this was considered to be winking! At least this was the objection put forth by a member of the Censor Board, who happened to be very ‘religious’.
I went to see him and took a camera with me. I requested him to try and take a photograph without shutting his eye. He accepted the challenge, saying that if he was unable to take the photo without ‘winking’, he would withdraw his objection. He took the camera and I asked his staff to watch him; as he took the photograph, he ended up closing one eye. He had no choice but to drop his objection.
The other commercial was for a milk product; after drinking a glass of milk, a boy licked his ‘milk moustache’ with his tongue. This time the objection was that it was ‘sexually provocative’. As there was no way to convince the Censor Board otherwise, the commercial was never aired.
Anwar Rammal is Chairman, Asiatic Public Relations Network. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
HORLICKS: TO BE TALLER, STRONGER & SHARPER
Horlicks’s initial positioning was of a family nourisher. The early ads were about providing daily nourishment to the family and the USP was energy. Later, Horlicks began to target children between the ages of five and 12, moving away from specifically focusing on energy to addressing children’s growth needs.
According to clinically-proven studies, milk alone is not sufficient to meet these needs, although in Pakistan, milk is considered to be the gold standard for nutrition. Our positioning changed to: children need added nutrients in different amounts and when it comes to specific aspects – making a child grow in height, stronger (muscle strength) and sharper (mental alertness), Horlicks is the drink to add to milk.
Over the years, we refined our strategy; we had to be more targeted in reaching out to mums because a lot of brands had jumped on the nutrition and nourishment bandwagon. Biscuit brands are telling mothers they provide energy and other add-ons to milk (such as syrups) to make the milk taste better and give their child added energy.
Children do not make the buying decision; that is the mother’s role. So we have a primary (children) and a secondary (mothers) audience. We reach mothers through various platforms, and because TV is becoming more and more cluttered, we are focusing our efforts online.
We know mothers go online to look up nutritional needs or chat with other mothers. We started in print only, then slowly moved to TV and radio; now we have moved to digital. In terms of the media mix, TV at one point accounted for about 60% of our spend, but since last year, this has declined.
We recently launched a new product called Horlicks Growth Plus. So far, Horlicks has been confined to the health food category but we are now moving into the nutritional supplement category, which is where Growth Plus comes in.
Sadia Nasir is Director Brands, GSK Consumer Healthcare.
A NOSTALGIC CURTAIN RISES ON ADASIA 89
Zohra Yusuf’s terse curtain raiser, written on the eve of AdAsia 89, outlines what the public needed to know about this spectacular event.
AdAsia 89 was a major milestone for the advertising profession and the culmination of a journey that started with the First Pakistan Advertising Congress held in 1979 in Karachi (as it turned out, it was also the last), held under the chairmanship of Javed Jabbar.
The idea was to engage all industry stakeholders in a productive dialogue that would ensure sustained collaboration among them. It was this spirit of collaboration that enabled the profession to make a successful bid in Seoul for Pakistan to host the 16th Asian Advertising Congress (AdAsia 89).
AdAsia 89 turned out to be a spectacular success for Pakistan; it was deemed to have been one of the best AdAsias ever held by foreign delegates and speakers alike, and put Pakistani advertising on the global map in the best possible light.
For the Organising Committee of the 16th Asian Advertising Congress, it’s been a long journey of trials and triumphs. The next four days will be the true test of their ability and endurance – as Pakistan hosts the largest international congress organised by the private sector.
The first Asian Advertising Congress was held in Tokyo in 1958. Since then, AdAsia has been held every alternate year in various Asian cities. In 1984, competing against Australia in Seoul, Pakistan won the bid to host the 16th AAC in 1988. Since most events in Pakistan are prone to postponements, AdAsia was moved ahead to 1989.
Most Asian Advertising Congresses are attended by 800 to 1,000 delegates, with about 50% participation from host countries. Pakistan has reportedly met the target. The campaign for the registration of overseas delegates commenced at the IAA’s Conference in Sydney in May 1988. The Organising Committee made presentations in almost all countries of the region – in the Far East, South Asia and West Africa.
Launch and preparatory meeting
A year ago, on February 19, 1988, at the venue where the Congress is now being held, AdAsia 89 was launched by Punjab Chief Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. A year before, Senator Javed Jabbar was elected Chairman of AdAsia 89 by the Central Executive Committee of the Pakistan Advertising Association.
An Organising Committee, representing related sectors was formed shortly afterwards. Subcommittees to deal with every organisational aspect of AdAsia 89 were set up.
Congress theme and logo
Each AdAsia has its own distinct theme and symbol. The AdAsia 89 theme: “Together Towards Tomorrow”, was proposed by IAL and selected by the Organising Committee from over 30 suggested.
The Congress logo, which is a visual interpretation of the theme, was designed by Oscar Advertising.
According to an AdAsia bulletin: “The design in a stylised arrow form shows 15 bars joined together, denoting the 15 Asian Congresses held in the past and the 16th bar, a little ahead of the rest, waiting to join the forward march – Together Towards Tomorrow.”
A ‘regional’ approach
The AdAsia 89 programme is conceived to give representation to eight distinct ‘advertising regions’, which are: China, Japan, East Asia (Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Asia-Pacific countries), ASEAN (the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand), Australia and New Zealand, SAARC (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan), West Asia (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Yemen Arab Republic, People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen) and North Asia (USSR’s Asian Republics and Mongolia).
In a span of four days, AdAsia delegates are expected to listen (attentively, if possible) to about 45 distinguished speakers – an average of 10.5 per day! Delegates will, of course, pick and choose – or snooze – their way through.
The list of speakers is like a ‘who’s who’ from the world of mass communications and they include Edward de Bono (the inventor of the term ‘lateral thinking’), Alban Lloyd (Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi International), Clay Timon (President, IAA & VP/Director Worldwide Advertising, Colgate-Palmolive), Shuzu Ishikawa (MD, Dentsu, Japan) Ronald Beatson (Director-General, European Association of Advertising Agencies), Antonio De Joya (Chairman, AMDC and Chairman Emeritus, Asian Federation of Advertising Association), Arun Poorie (Editor, India Today), John Stacks (Chief of Correspondents, Time Magazine) and David Wheeler (Director-General, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, UK).
The venue was almost a Hobson’s choice for the Organising Committee. Karachi has the hotels but lacks ‘culture’; Lahore is somewhat backward in accommodation facilities but compensates with its architecture and environs. Ultimately, it was Al-Hamra Arts Centre and its auditorium which clinched the choice in favour of Lahore.
The Punjab Government sanctioned Rs 2.5 million for its renovation for AdAsia 89. The auditorium has been equipped with sophisticated audio-visual facilities by a Singaporean company. Simultaneous translation arrangements have also been made for delegates from China, Japan and Korea.
In the art gallery of the Al-Hamra, an exhibition has been mounted, displaying print advertising and design. ADEX is divided into two sections: the first consisting of stands where participating organisations are displaying their products and services; the second is the advertising exhibition. Film commercials will be shown in the auditorium as part of the Congress programme.
The Organising Committee has succeeded in turning a drawback into an advantage. The absence of large, plush hotels in Lahore will force Congress delegates into the more exciting outdoors – for most meals and a true taste of the city’s culture. Imaginative scenarios are being created: ‘Costumes through the ages’, ‘Artisans at work’– and the grand finale at Lahore Fort, where delegates will light a ‘burj’ to contribute to a gigantic fireworks display.
According to reports, mobile toilets have been arranged at public places such as the Bagh-i-Jinnah and Lahore Fort. Meals are being catered keeping in mind the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of delegates from different countries.
Excerpted from AdAsia 89, a Dawn supplement, published on February 19, 1989.Zohra Yusuf is Chief Creative Officer, Spectrum Y&R.
HBL: ENABLING DREAMS
HBL was the first commercial bank to be established for the Muslims of the subcontinent in 1941. As the bank evolved with the nation, so did the brand and its communication.
At the time of its inception and soon independence, HBL’s communication focused on introducing the benefits of banking to the public. The communication was aimed at promoting its product suite in line with the economic needs of the time.
The idea behind building the brand was introduced in the 1970s when HBL Plaza was built as the tallest building in Pakistan and in South Asia. The Plaza was inaugurated to mark the 25th anniversary of the bank and was advertised to enhance brand equity and establish Habib Bank as the industry leader.
When the bank was acquired by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development in 2004, a conscious effort was made to differentiate the brand and lead from the front. The brand name was changed from Habib Bank to HBL. Investment behind building brand equity became the priority.
The phrase ‘Jahan Khwab, Wahan HBL’ was coined to reflect the brand promise of enabling dreams. Over the last 10 years, HBL launched a series of corporate campaigns, which helped it gain the highest brand equity score in the industry, and made it a household name in Pakistan.
HBL has positioned itself as an organisation that aims to better the lives of its customers. HBL’s communication delivers a message of financial inclusion and enabling dreams.
In 2015, HBL launched a campaign featuring Samina Baig, Pakistan’s first woman to climb Everest and seven of the world’s highest peaks. Its subsequent corporate campaign featured Rosheen Khan, a woman who pushed the limits to achieve her dream of becoming Pakistan’s first female scuba diving instructor.
As a bank that has always been linked to the history of Pakistan, HBL partnered with Dawn to launch a campaign celebrating the dreamers of Pakistan and commemorate the 70th anniversary of the country. The ‘Ek Khwab Kay Naam’ print campaign pays tribute to our nation by identifying all those dreamers who have made Pakistan a thriving country.
Naveed Ashgar is Chief Marketing Officer, HBL.
1950s & 60s: THE AGE OF THE PIONEER
WHEN SUPERMAN CAME TO TOWN
As the advertising profession marks 70 years of existence, Mariam Ali Baig highlights major themes that influenced its trajectory from 1947 to the present day millennial age.
There is something unique in the telling of the story of advertising in Pakistan. Consider how it started.
A group of men independently travelled to Karachi from near and from far... from Bhopal, Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Lahore, Lucknow... and many other cities in India. Others were Karachi born and bred.
They were poets, artists, art collectors, merchants, bon viveurs, writers, civil servants, musicians, raconteurs, bankers, philanthropists and gentlemen farmers; one was even a prince.
In Karachi, they set up offices that were cramped and sparsely furnished: oddly-assorted tables and chairs, a few pens and pencils. A peon to make the tea – the extent of their staff. They set up in Karachi, eager to be part of the great nation-building effort that Pakistan awaited. Their resources were limited, but their enthusiasm was boundless.
These extraordinary men were the founding fathers of Pakistan’s advertising profession. The industry’s first superheroes.
Looking back 70 years, it is hard to encompass the scale of their achievement. Karachi in 1947 was an outpost far from British India’s centres of commerce and advertising which were located in Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta. Business had be to drummed-up, staff found, hired and trained, products and services marketed, brands built and customers wooed.
Those among them who were transferred to Karachi from their agency headquarters in India were marginally better equipped; at least they had experience of the business and a client base on which to build. The others had to start from scratch, set up their own agency and hope for the best. Yet, they ploughed on and laid the foundations of the profession.
So that when television came upon Pakistan’s advertising scene in 1964, a new generation of superheroes was ready to take on the mantle – and they did so, with a burst of original creative executions which remain the envy of today’s generation of practitioners. The profession had found its foothold and if this was a period of buoyant creativity, it was also a time of consolidation.
Functions and systems were in place, women were hired (albeit, almost entirely in the creative departments), the terms of engagement with the media were set and the building of some of our best loved brands had begun. The culmination of this second phase in Pakistan’s advertising history was marked by the AdAsia 89 advertising congress, which was held in Lahore, in February 1989.
Under the chairmanship of Javed Jabbar, the entire industry, including the media, coalesced together (in a way never seen before or since) to present a programme that included a roster of stellar speakers drawn from the international world of advertising. AsiaAsia 89 put Pakistani advertising on the global map.
If so far the story of Pakistani advertising has been linear, what follows is a marked change in tempo. The world was going global and Pakistani advertising was about to shed its insularity. The global paradigm that governed the rules of engagement between advertising agencies and their clients shifted.
Marketing assumed a central position within client companies and CEOs were hired on the basis of their ability to drive brand sales. The client was now in the driver’s seat.
In Pakistan, this change in paradigm found concrete expression in the emergence of the affiliated agency and the entry of the media buying houses. Formerly, clients appointed a single agency to handle their entire brand portfolio. Now, the portfolios were split among agencies and the brand became the sole client.
Then, as the media buying houses consolidated their presence in an increasingly competitive media environment, the media function moved from the agency and became a separate, specialist function. The established model of agency commission was compromised and new business models were introduced.
In the midst of these shifts came the internet which rewrote all the rules. Time compressed, the media fragmented, brands proliferated, consumers demanded and lifestyles went into transformation.
As a result, Pakistani advertising agencies were forced to reinvent themselves again and again; from full-service, to specialisation, to hybrids; from independent to partial affiliates to full-equity buyouts to whatever else worked in between.
Along with adapting to global influences, the advertising profession had to withstand the peculiarities of Pakistan’s own trajectory; the periods of economic boom and bust, the cycles of instability and the systemic uncertainties that suppress an innate optimism to do and think big. After all, it took an American-owned agency to instil in its people the belief that they could, and in so believing, they brought back to Pakistan, a Clio and a Cannes Lion. Yet, if the proof is to be found in the pudding, consider that ad spend in Pakistan went from zero in 1947 to approximately four million rupees in 1966 (Gallup Pakistan).
In 1983, it touched Rs 423 million (Marketing Review) and by the end of 2017, the figure amounted to Rs 87.7 billion (Aurora Fact File), representing a staggering increase of 20,632% since 1983. Superheroes indeed!
What will happen next is anyone’s guess. Fast paced advancement in technology is the only continuum that can be predicted. The traditional agency model remains under threat and the fact that it continues to exist in a recognisable form is because nobody has figured out what the alternative should be – yet. However, if the past can point to the future, then we know that we are dealing with a fundamentally resilient profession.
One that re-imagines itself with every successive change; builds solid brands, provides employment to Pakistan’s most talented young people, is now bringing home top international awards, and on a good day, delivers magic and delight to our homes.
For all of this and much more, we have to thank our superhero pioneers who wrote the first chapters of the story of Pakistan’s advertising.
The next chapters in the Book of Advertising now belong to yet another generation of advertising superheroes.
Mariam Ali Baig is Editor, Aurora. She can be contacted at email@example.com
WHEN MIGHTY OAKS FROM ACORNS DO GROW...
S. M. Shahid looks back at the inception of the advertising profession.
I established Oscar in 1963. However, how I got into (advertising in the first place is another story.
My ambition was to become a journalist, but in those days, one could only enter into journalism if one was a graduate… and I was not.
After my father’s death, we went through a great deal of turmoil. Before Partition, we lived in Bihar. After Independence, we moved to Chittagong and then came to Karachi in 1951. I had to look for employment to make ends meet and my education was left half way.
I worked for a couple of years for Sui Gas Transmission Company and then moved to Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL). The idea of doing something of my own appealed to me and I thought about advertising because there were many non-graduates in the profession. My brother Mazhar was a friend of S.H. Hashmi and was working at Orient Advertising. Truth be told, neither Mazhar nor Hashmi were very well versed in advertising at that point.
In fact, it was Hashmi’s elder brother Mateen (he worked for Alpha Insurance), who opened Orient in a room in Dawn’s offices in New Challi in 1953. He told Hashmi to sit there and do some work. Any client who came to put an ad in Dawn was directed to Orient, and in this way, Orient earned a commission and the agency flourished. In those days, the clients were mostly textile companies.
Orient started doing well and Mazhar was sent to Dhaka to open a branch there. When he came back in 1963, I suggested we open our own agency. In order not to burn our boats, I intended to keep working at PPL. However, to my surprise, my boss A.Y. Khan (the Chief Accountant at PPL) called me in one day and said I would never make it as an accountant. He then gave the key to his old office at Oriental Chambers and told me to start my advertising business. I was speechless. I didn’t have words to thank him. The next day I took possession of 15 Oriental Chambers.
Our office had three tables, seven chairs of which four were broken, one stool and a rack, a phone that was out of order on account of non-payment, one bell, one ashtray, one lock and two keys – just enough to start an agency. Mazhar and I painted the office ourselves. I then asked Irfan Haleem who was my colleague at PPL, to join Oscar as a partner. We decided to call the agency Oscar as Mazhar and I felt it had good recall.
In those days, the big players were foreign agencies such as D.J. Keymer, Grant Advertising, JWT, Stronach Advertising and Crawford Advertising. After Partition, there were hardly any trained professionals, except for those who came from India.
I divide the admen of those early years into two categories. The pioneers; they were the ones who had no experience in advertising, yet they started their own agencies and trained themselves on-the-job. They included people such as Mohammad Mushtaq (National Advertisers); Chaudhry Abdul Ghafour (United Advertisers) who was well-read in Persian, Urdu and English literature; Sultan Mahmud, who previously worked in the Ministry of Finance and then joined Ghafour in 1950; Ashraf Muhammad (Spotlit Advertising); Aziz and Bashir Khan (Manhattan); Lutfullah and Amanullah Khan (Kays Advertising); Nawabzada Wajid Mahmood (Adarts); Jamil Siddiqui (Marketing & Advertising) and Sadiqul Khairi (Khairi Advertising).
In the second category were those with agency experience and who later set up on their own. They included Akhlaq Ahmad, who initially worked for National Advertisers as an Art Director after which he joined Stronach Advertising. He then rejoined National Advertisers and in 1959, started Adcom. Iqbal Mir worked for United Advertising as an Account Executive before starting Prestige in 1960. Taher A. Khan worked for MNJ as an Account Executive and then moved to Paragon. He finally set up Interflow Communications in 1983.
The only two people I know who were trained in the real sense were Javed Jabbar and Naseer Haider. They both were sent to the UK when they were at IAL. Javed was trained as a concept writer. He established MNJ in 1969, in partnership with Majeed Ahmed and Nafees Ghaznavi. He is, in my opinion, the most brilliant advertising man in Pakistan.
In the sixties, creativity was the most important thing. It was more about illustrations and photography was not a very active part of advertising. In those days, every agency had an English and an Urdu copywriter.
Small agencies which could not afford to hire copywriters would hire them on a part-time basis. People such as Mr Enwary who worked for the British Council is an example; Anwar Mooraj an English copywriter; and Shahid Salamat, a great Urdu copywriter at Lintas.
In those days, once the copy was written, it was sent to the visualiser who would think of an illustration to go with the copy. The image would then be sketched and the text typed out on a manual typewriter. The graphic artist would mark ‘bold, upper case, lower case, 36 points’ on headlines and similar things on the body copy. This text would then go to a typesetter; most of them were located on McLeod Road. The typesetters would set the text using Letraset and print it out on an art paper. Then it would be put on a board, each line was cut individually and pasted on the design.
For an Urdu ad, the handwritten copy was sent to a calligrapher, after which each line would be cut and pasted in the same way done for English ads. Putting together a single ad would take about two to three days. And there was no guarantee the client would like it. He might tell you to do it all over again.
S.M. Shahid is an advertising veteran, a photographer, a columnist and an author of books on music. S.M. Shahid established Oscar Advertising in 1963, in a little room in a commercial building. The agency remained in business for over three decades. He played an instrumental role in organising both the first Pakistan Advertising Congress in 1979 and AdAsia 89. The logo and publications for the event were designed by Oscar Advertising. He acted and scripted a satire on advertising called Client, Client, which was later published as a book. In order to pursue classical music, photography and writing, he handed over the agency business to his daughter Sadia and her husband. He went on to study vocal classical music with Ustad Wilayat Ali Khan. Melody Queen – Tributes to Pakistan’s Superstar Noor Jehan, is a book accompanied by a CD of 20 immortal songs compiled and edited by him. Among his other books are Classical Music of The Subcontinent – an Introduction, Immortal Film Songs – inspired by Raags, Abba Bataeaye, Prem Sangeet, Jungle Ki Dunya, Sketches by Salman, Pappoo Yaar Tang Na Kar, Ghalib Kay Urain Gay Purzay and Tuzk-e-Ziaee. S.M. Shahid is one of the advertising industry’s pioneers and is listed in the 70 Years of Game Changers in this Special Report.
ADVERTISING IN BRITISH INDIA
In this extract, Douglas Haynes writes about the rise of professional advertising in British India
In the early 1920s, global businesses relied on advertisements drawn up in Europe or America without consideration of the values of Indian consumers.
Such marketing methods increasingly seemed inadequate to many global businesses. These firms turned to advertising specialists headquartered in India’s larger cities. Such specialists worked under three different kinds of arrangements.
First, they could be members of advertising firms that were setting up offices in India, such as J. Walter Thompson, which came to India in 1929 to promote General Motors’ automobiles, but soon took up a number of smaller accounts.
Second, advertisers could work for agency firms that managed the distribution of the products manufactured by their clients. For instance, the makers of Ovaltine hired the firm of James Wright as their agent in India; this firm designed and placed many thousands of ads in Indian newspapers.
Finally, some professional advertisers worked as in-house specialists for the biggest businesses, such as Lever Brothers.
Archival research combined with an analysis of advertisements suggests that professional advertisers conceived of the Indian market in the three broad segments. First, there were the European expatriates and wealthy Indian consumers, who may have been small in number but who had high disposable incomes.
Advertisements targeting these buyers were printed in the English-language press, such as The Times of India. Second, there were the middle-class consumers, a much larger category of people but with more modest earnings and with significant anxieties about liberal spending on commodities. They could be reached through vernacular newspapers and English-language papers with nationalist reputations, as well as through billboards and cinema ads. Finally, there were the rural population and the urban under-classes.
DAYS OF GLORY IN RADIO PAKISTAN
Mamun M. Adil recalls a time when Pakistan’s radio was at par with international broadcast standards. An impeccable training programme acted as a springboard to further the careers of these early radio professionals.
At 11 p.m. on August 13, 1947, the well-known presenter Zahur Azar announced from All-India Radio’s (AIR) Lahore station: “At the stroke of twelve midnight, the independent sovereign state of Pakistan will come into existence.” An hour later, Azar stated eloquently: “This is Pakistan Broadcasting Service, Lahore. We now bring to you a special programme on ‘The dawn of Independence’.”
Azar’s announcement, which was in English and followed by an Urdu translation by Mustafa Ali Hamadani, was important for two reasons. One, it made radio the first medium to announce the creation of Pakistan; two, the Lahore station, which a mere hour ago was part of AIR, was officially part of the Pakistan Broadcasting Service (PBS), which subsequently became known as Radio Pakistan.
Prior to Independence, AIR (established in 1926) comprised nine stations. Post independence, six remained (Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Madras, Lucknow, Tiruchirapalli) while the Dhaka, Lahore and Peshawar stations became part of Radio Pakistan, led by Z.A. Bokhari, the first Director General.
On April 16, 1948, the Rawalpindi station was inaugurated, followed by the Karachi station on August 14, 1948. This station initially began broadcasting on August 5, 1947 as the Sindh Government Broadcasting Station; during its 10-day existence, it aired live coverage of landmark moments such as Mr Jinnah’s oath-taking ceremony as Governor- General, as well as dramas and music; the reason why it was shut down was because it violated the Wireless Telegraphy Act, according to which a provincial government could not operate a radio station.
Increasing the reach
Over the next few years, more shortwave and medium-wave transmitters were purchased and put into place to increase Radio Pakistan’s reach across both wings of Pakistan, as well as overseas, through a ‘Priority programme of development’. As a result, by 1949, Radio Pakistan could be heard in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Far East, Europe, as well as in Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey.
Due to its diverse audience, by 1954, Radio Pakistan’s news bulletins were broadcast in at least 15 languages, including Afghan-Persian, Arabic, Balochi, Balti, Bengali, Burmese, English, Gujarati, Iranian Kashmiri, Parhari, Pushto, Sindhi, Shina and Urdu.
Training and high-quality programming
In addition to news bulletins, Radio Pakistan aired dramas and feature programmes which, according to A History of Radio Pakistan by Nihal Ahmad, centred on “nation building themes”, as well as “history, culture, the freedom struggle, crime detection and social issues.”
There were also programmes covering science, music, farming, education, poetry and sports. Religious programming was not limited to recitations from the Quran and included readings from the Geeta, the Tipiaka and the Bible.
In fact, despite the fact that the BBC, Voice of America, All India Radio and Radio Ceylon were available to listeners, Radio Pakistan was able to hold its own. To produce high-quality programming, Radio Pakistan placed a great deal of emphasis on training their actors, producers, directors and technicians. To this end, a training institute was established as early as 1949.
Given the emphasis on training, the people who worked at Radio Pakistan as newscasters, voice-over artists, writers and producers eventually went on to make their careers in cinema, theatre and television.
These include film actor Mohammad Ali, television actors Neelofar Aleem, Talat Hussain, Santosh Rassal and Qazi Wajid, and prominent writers such as Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, Rafi Peer, Syed Abid Ali, Khwaja Moinuddin, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Hasina Moin and Bano Qudsia.
Other notable personalities include Omer Kureishi and Jamshed Marker, whose cricket commentaries are remembered to this day. Prominent Urdu newscasters included Shakeel Ahmed and Anwar Behzad; Anita Ghulam Ali and Edward Carapiet (who hosted the popular Hit Parade) were well-known English newscasters.
Then, there were those great voices we still hear today, who either debuted or gained prominence on Radio Pakistan and include Madam Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan and Reshma. Another notable personality was Agha Nasir, who is considered a pioneer of Radio Pakistan and later served as Managing Director, PTV; he transitioned from radio to television with ease due to the training he received at Radio Pakistan.
During an interview with Dawn, Nasir stated that: “From the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties, Radio Pakistan was at the zenith of its success, not only because there was no competitive medium or source of information, education and entertainment, but because it was run in such a perfect manner; it was at par with many international radio services.”
Enter the commercials
When commercials began to be aired in 1961 (from the Karachi station) and subsequently from Lahore Dhaka in 1967, Ahmad points out that “there was a great rush to book commercial spots and the entire allocated advertising was booked, leading to demand for more advertising time.”
In the initial days, one hour of commercials were aired with the “objective of publicising locally manufactured products”; by the mid-sixties three hours and 10 minutes of commercials were broadcast on weekdays, and three hours and 40 minutes on Sundays.
A matter of media spend
Although there are no statistics with respect to ad revenue available from the forties and fifties, according to Gallup Pakistan, by 1966 media spend reached four million rupees. Of this, print, the undisputed leader, commanded 59% of the share. (At the time, leading newspapers included Dawn, founded by Mr Jinnah on August 14, 1947; Nawa-i-Waqt, established in 1940 by Hamid Nizami; Jang established in 1939 by Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman; and Pakistan Observer founded by Hamidul Huq Choudhury in 1949, which was published from Dhaka; after the 1971 war it was called Bangladesh Observer, and ceased publication in June 2010).
Such was radio’s prominence that it came second, securing 19% of total ad spend, followed by PTV (12%), the only television channel and outdoor (10%). Cinema too was a significant advertising medium, although statistics of its market share are unavailable. Since then, things have changed drastically. According to the Aurora Fact File published in the magazine’s November-December 2017 edition, radio accounts for a mere three percent of the total media spend.
Of this, Radio Pakistan’s share is four percent, and two of its music-based FM channels 101 and 93 (which, like Radio Pakistan, are part of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and were established in 1993 and 2014 respectively) have a combined share of three percent.
Consequently, the share of all three channels amounts to seven percent, which is relatively low compared to the revenue share of other networks and stations such as Radio Awaz Network, 106.2 and 100, which range between eight to 10%.
Today, Radio Pakistan’s audience is mainly confined to people living in rural areas, who do not have access to FM channels, yet. However, the station’s contribution towards training and nurturing talent should not be forgotten as it served as the first training ground for writers, producers and actors who went on to work on television, and thus contributed to the vibrant media scene that is prevalent in today’s Pakistan.
Mamun M. Adil is a leading advertising and communications expert at Aurora. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
BOVRIL WEDDINGS & SHIKAR IN RAHIMYAR KHAN
In 1952, Lever Brothers shifted their headquarters to remote Rahimyar Khan, the site of their newly constructed Dalda factory. An eyewitness recalls the heady atmosphere of those early days.
The story of how Lever came to Rahimyar Khan is fascinating. It contains all the elements of a pot-boiler, set in the twilight years of the Raj.
The cast of characters include a Nawab, a powerful expatriate member of the landed gentry and a local contractor. On the other side is a group of negotiators representing Lever’s interests in India. Set in a Princely State, the backdrop is the build-up to Indian independence and the partition of the subcontinent.
Since the early forties, Lever had been looking for a site that could manufacture and supply vanaspati to the Northwest. Two local players appeared on the scene, equipped with political clout. Sir Maratab Ali, the force behind the Ali Group and William Roberts, a locally-based British landlord with vast cotton holdings. The two gentlemen were offered generous concessions by the Nawab of Bahawalpur, including the grant of a large tract of land in Rahimyar Khan, access to canal water, attractive tax holidays and other perks.
The men were equipped to go ahead with the textile mill as they had experience of cotton spinning processes. What they lacked was technical expertise in the manufacture of edible oils or soap. This is where Unilever stepped in.
After prolonged negotiations, a deal was struck. Although Rahimyar Khan was remote and infrastructure and skilled labour in short supply, it had a number of advantages. It was located halfway between Karachi and Lahore and situated along the North-South railway line. Rahimyar Khan was also located in the heart of an important cotton-growing area. As a result, there was an abundance of cotton seed from which oil could be extracted.
Construction of the factory began in 1949. The Sadiq Oil & Allied Mills was inaugurated in 1952 and Khwaja Nazimuddin, the Prime Minister of Pakistan presided over the grand affair. The mill initially processed cotton seed with the aim of providing crude cotton seed oil. The oil was then processed in a refinery. In parallel, the factory began to make vegetable ghee (vanaspati) and in 1952, the first tin of Dalda banaspati rolled off the production line.
Life in Rahimyar Khan in those days was not easy. During the construction of the factory, the chief engineer, H. A. Snowdon, lived in a tent. His wife was extremely supportive and would join him for extended periods, before returning exhausted to England.
In 1952, Lever decided to shift its headquarters to Rahimyar Khan. Given that there was no accommodation available in town, a huge estate had to be constructed. The first building was a bungalow, housing the offices and three massive hangars brought in from Sri Lanka. Gradually, a handful of bungalows began to appear.
There was only one phone in the town. The only entertainment was in the shape of a dingy cinema hall. The factory was surrounded by agricultural fields and people were afraid to venture out at night for fear of jackals. There were no shops and acquiring a loaf of bread was something of an ordeal. The bread would arrive from Karachi on the Khyber Mail and cooks would rush to fetch it every morning. In the initial days, the expatriate community comprised only men, but as new bungalows were built, families began to arrive.
Gradually, social life emerged. Ken Chambers, the chairman in the fifties, recalls how in the midst of a tea party held to celebrate the completion of the estate, a fire broke out and engulfed the shamiana. Chambers describes the scene:
“What a panic; cups of tea were thrown up to the roof which was on fire, but did not make too much of an impact on the flames. Finally, the fire came under control, not due to the teacup throwers, but by our own fire brigade.”
T. A. Shah describes how he used to organise hunting trips. He would gather guns from a local dealer, and get shikaris who knew the terrain to accompany hunting parties as guides. Deer and partridge hunting were the favourite pastimes, and anglers too managed to come home with a fairly healthy supply of fish. Riding was quite the rage; particularly among expatriates.
Eventually, a club was built and a high-spirited social life emerged around it. Everything from riding to cricket, hockey, swimming, tennis, volleyball and table tennis were organised.
Another important task was keeping the housewives well-stocked with their favourite food items. Fish, such as pomfret would arrive from Karachi, as would fresh fruit and vegetables. A highlight of life in Rahimyar Khan was the arrival of food parcels from England containing everything a nostalgic expatriate community could possibly want; from marmalade and cheese to Bovril.
This quaint custom began when John Hansard, a senior Unilever official and his wife visited Rahimyar Khan. They were upset by the lack of availability of certain items of their daily diet.
“Mrs Hansard must have convinced her husband that something had to be done, and from then on, every month managers sent a list detailing foodstuffs to the value of £3 to Leslie Smith of OSC, who forwarded them to Harrods,” says a former chairman.
Shopping trips to Lahore and Karachi were organised for managers and their wives. Holidays in Nathiagali also broke the monotony. The legendary parties thrown by the chairman were only for managers. The problem was that these were ‘dinner jacket and bow tie’ affairs and gentlemen’s bespoke tailoring was not exactly Rahimyar Khan’s forte.
In this world within a world, there were unexpected shortages which needed improvisation. When Alan Jones, a manager, decided to get married at Karachi’s Trinity Church, he needed a supply of confetti. Bashir Ahmed, puzzled by the request, decided to find a solution in the office. He emptied out all the punching machines and the wedding ceremony proceeded along traditional lines. The gentleman’s fiancée was willing to tie the knot with Jones but was wary about the prospects of marital bliss in Rahimyar Khan.
To alleviate her fears, she was flown in from England and lodged at the bungalow of an expatriate family. Chambers, keen not to lose Jones, decided to give the young woman the time of her life. Parties were organised, trips laid on, and every attempt made to convince her that Rahimyar Khan was Shangrila. The efforts were not in vain. The punching machine wedding in Karachi soon ensued and Mrs Jones became part of the Rahimyar Khan scene.
It was, however, not all fun and games. Life was hard, and the officers worked tirelessly from seven in the morning often until late into the evenings.
Looking back, it is hard to believe how difficult it was to market some of today’s household names. This was perhaps the inevitable downside of being a pioneering company. Dalda, in its early days, was fraught with controversies and suspicions.
Clarified butter (ghee) had been the favoured cooking medium across the subcontinent. However, in certain urban centres in India, given shortages and adulteration, banaspati had gradually emerged as a favoured cooking medium. This was not the case in the area that now constituted Pakistan.
The early salesmen of Dalda had a tough time. People believed that the product was synthetic and viewed it with suspicion. In this hostile environment, Lever launched a counterattack. First, it stressed the health factor by pointing to the vitamins Dalda contained. It sent off salesmen with large frying pans to cook pakoras at makeshift stalls across the country. A massive advertising campaign was launched to counter the false allegations about Dalda, which ranged from making you weak and bald to impotent.
In all this, Lever has had the support of Lintas, now R-Lintas. This was originally the advertising arm of Unilever in countries where advertising was not developed. Over the years, Unilever began to dispose of these agencies. R-Lintas was bought by C.A. Rauf, a former Lever man. He was licensed to use the name, subject to Unilever conditions.
In 2002, Lintas was bought over by Lowe & Rauf and R-Lintas became Lowe & Rauf. In 2016, Lowe affiliated with Mullen (an American advertising agency) and Lowe & Rauf became MullenLowe Rauf.
Excerpted from Fifty Great Years in Pakistan, published by Unilever Pakistan.
A truly iconic brand, Dalda has found its way into the annals of our food and pop culture history... from cookbooks and cooking shows to hummable and endearing jingles. Yet, always keeping mamta as its essence.
How is it that a brand relevant to my grandmother and mothers’ generations can still be relevant to mine? By understanding the subtleties prevalent within the winds of cultural change... and staying ahead... through insight, technological expertise and innovation.
From our grandmothers to our mothers and to ourselves, food and the cooking of it, plays a central part in expressing our love and in the nurturing of our children, making the cooking medium an important ingredient in any recipe!
This has not changed... what has changed is the context within which these recipes are prepared, lives are lived and motherhood is expressed.
One cannot understand the changing context of maternal love unless one understands the changing context of womanhood. Women have worked hard to break gender stereotypes and evolve their roles to become a force, both within the home and outside it! There has also been an evolutionary change in our food trends as we have grown more aware of what we consume and how we consume it.
Dalda have used their technological expertise and insightful wisdom to embrace this change in the lives of women and in food trends. They have supported it unquestioningly... moving with the change to give them Banaspati, Cooking Oil, Sunflower or Olive Oil.
For Dalda, what is important is that no matter how many roles they balance or how they choose to nourish their families, a mom is a mom and an expert in her own right; one that requires appreciation, honour and respect.
Dalda have not just given us innovative products; they have brought to life the essence of mamta, a timeless emotion that knows no bounds...and is indeed the hardest, most challenging and fulfilling job in the world!
Amber Rauf is Director Strategic Planning and Corporate Communications, MullenLowe Rauf.
WHEN NIGHT WAS A CABARET
From elegance to sleaze, Leon Menezes evokes a time of night time adventures when newspapers could publish daring ads without fear of reprisal.
It was the best of times. With nightlife to rival Beirut, Karachi was alive and well and living it up in the years after independence – all the way up to the mid-seventies. As the capital of a new, vibrant country, the city was primed to help one enjoy a good night out (week after week at that). How many are out there who remember that era?
The names evoke images from elegance to sleaze, just like the actual clientele catered to. Hotel Metropole and Palace Hotel, The Beach Luxury Hotel and later, the Inter Continental Hotel were the crown jewels, while the Excelsior, Imperial, Taj and Central hotels offered a more risqué set of entertainment. And the artists were flown in from around the region; there were Turks, Lebanese, Australians, Egyptians and other nationalities regularly performing on the circuit.
The evening’s entertainment was billed as ‘Dinner, Dance, Cabaret’, and the belly dancers almost always called themselves ‘Princess’. Further adjectives used to describe the female artistes included ‘hot’, ‘scintillating’ and other alluring names, designed to conjure up images of magical evenings.
Newspapers carried ads with pictures of the performers that one could hardly imagine in this day and age. Besides the afore, alluded to belly dancing, other acts included comedy/singing duos, limbo dancers and even a frequent striptease artist or two.
Speaking of the ads, readers who have no inkling of what that era held would probably be scandalised by the images and promise: red-blooded entertainment for a discerning audience. Since we had not yet become a ‘Nanny State’, newspapers could publish them without fear of punitive action.
With the city full of embassies and served by a host of foreign airlines, the mix of international and local patrons enjoyed themselves into the early hours of the morning. The hotels had fully-stocked bars, including local brews, and catered to a wide selection of tastes.
The glamour quotient was suitably maintained at the upper end of the spectrum by elegantly-dressed ladies and smartly-turned out gentlemen. Dancers and dance floors were smoothly polished and the latest gyrations were always on show.
The locations of these nightclubs was within a small radius and included some of the old city areas: The Roma Shabana was somewhere near Napier Road; the Lido (Imperial Hotel) near the PIDC Bridge; the Taj across from CM House; and the Penthouse was housed in the Excelsior Hotel, right in the heart of Saddar. Slightly further up the road, the Beach Luxury Hotel also had some dynamic acts in its two venues. As part of the milieu of the time, low-end bars and off-licence liquor stores dotted the city, not even earning a second glance.
Karachi’s once-vibrant nightlife has given way to restaurants and fast-food outlets. Malls and cinemas now make up for whatever entertainment we have with the occasional theatre thrown in for good measure. We now speak of a time long, long ago in a country far, far away.
Leon Menezes is a former member of the band The In-Crowd and currently professor of practice.
IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES...
If confessions from Karachiites in the fifties and sixties are to be believed, food fetishism achieved an all-time high, writes Mamun M. Adil.
It may be the past; but it wasn’t that long ago. Karachi was the capital of a new country and boasted of streets that were washed every night. The city was peaceful, street crime was unheard of, life was gentle and the nightlife vibrant.
There were no malls and Saddar was Karachi’s vibrant heart, drawing crowds from across the city. It was to Bohri Bazaar that citizens went to buy fabric and crockery and have their children’s school uniforms made. Bohri Bazaar was famed for its plump jalebis, spicy bhel puri, chaat (at the original Nimco store) and colourful sherbet stalls. Empress Market (a lot cleaner than today and worthy of its name) was the hub for fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry. In the vicinity were several coffee shops, which acted as crowd pullers for the ‘intellectuals’ as well as a few ‘toddy’ shops, establishments which sold low-priced alcoholic drinks.
The centre of the universe
It was Elphinstone Street (now Zaibunissa Street) and referred to affectionately as ‘Elphi’, which was considered to be the ‘centre of the universe’ even before Partition. In addition to shops such as Ghulam Mohammad & Sons, which specialised in men’s clothing and Bliss & Co, the chemists, there were several stores selling imported goods.
Of these, English Cold Storage was a favourite; it was there that cold cuts, Swiss liqueur chocolates, cereals, and cheeses, be they of the Danish or Dutch variety, could be sourced. Incidentally, the first cheese to be made in Pakistan was called Amson’s; it was made by Amson’s Dairy and instead of being available at a retail store, one had to go to the owner’s flat located in an impressive stone building, on the corner of Inverarity (now Sarwar Shaheed Road) and Victoria Roads (now Abdullah Haroon Road) to purchase it, where it was packed in paper like butter, which Amson’s also sold.
Give us our daily bread – and butter
For people who wanted to buy imported butter, the selection included American brands such as Clearavall or Sylvester; both were available in tins. Otherwise, butter was mostly purchased from small bakeries, such as PF Pereira (housed in a restaurant of the same name and specialised in Goan cuisine) and United Bakery.
Another hotspot for freshly-baked bread was the Monastery of Angels on Ingle Road (now M.R. Kiyani Road), where European nuns made and sold fresh loaves at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily. In addition to white bread, they made raisin bread and peanut and almond brittles, all of which would be sold out within hours.
Eating out was equally popular then as it is today, although the number of restaurants was limited in number. For desi food, there was the Pioneer Coffee House, which was especially crowded on Sundays and primarily patronised by people who had spent the day at the horse races or at the nearby cinemas. In addition to a vegetable thali on Monday, Pioneer served khichra (a variation of haleem) and dhansak (a Parsi delicacy) and Bombay kulfi and falooda. Then there was Bundu Khan, which was famous for its flaky parathas and succulent kababs and tikkas.
Qaiser Hotel, which is still located on Pakistan Chowk, was best known for palak gosht and raan. Although western food was not as popular as it is today, Shezan, one of the first restaurants to be air-conditioned, served chicken sandwiches and later at Shezan Ampis, ‘chicken flying saucers’ made with plenty of green chillies for extra zing. Shezan also made birthday cakes, which were a rarity and only available at a few other places such as Metropole Hotel. The most commonly available cakes were the yellow pound cakes, which are still found at many bakeries today.
The French connection
Le Gourmet was one of the high-end restaurants of the time. It was located in the Palace Hotel (Mövenpick Hotel today) and specialised in French cuisine and possibly introduced Chateaubriand and Chicken A la Kiev to Karachi; it was also reputed to have the best wine list on offer. Le Gourmet was also one of Karachi’s first nightclubs and introduced cabaret to the city.
Here is how Anwar Mooraj, in a chapter of Karachi: Megacity of our times, describes the restaurant: “Le Gourmet had the usual ingredients which made for a successful night club – good food, a well-stocked cellar, wonderful music and a congenial atmosphere. Everybody who was ‘a somebody’ wanted to be seen there. Le Gourmet, however, introduced a new element – cabaret. Besides the usual assortment of heavily rouged Can-Can girls, who threw their long legs into the air while the Italian orchestra played a selection from Orpheus in the Underworld, there were also sophisticated magic shows, experiments in levitation and solo performances by a sensational local classical dancer called Panna.”
The China factor
In terms of food, the China factor was apparent way before the CPEC. ABC, which was established after World War II, and stood for America, Britain and China, was one of the most popular Chinese restaurants and was predictably located on Elphinstone Street.
For less than five rupees (considered pricey in those days), one could dig into a plate of egg fried rice and sweet and sour chicken, as well as noodles and fried prawns in a crisp batter. Another popular Chinese restaurant was the South China Cafe near Paradise Cinema. Here, the flavours were more Cantonese.
There was also Canton adjacent to Happy Book Stall on Inverarity Road and Hong Kong on Victoria Road. Soon, Chinese restaurants opened in Tariq Road and included Tung Nan and Yuan Tung, which was initially located near Bunder Road (now M.A. Jinnah Road).
The American influence
For young people, there were two trendy ‘hangout spots’. Topsy’s, near Rio and Rex cinemas, which served a wide variety of fizzy drinks (soft drinks were not stocked at home in the quantities they are today and going out for a soda was an outing), including Coke, Pepsi, Vimto, Canada Dry and Pakola (available in raspberry, orange and lemon flavours) and a brand called Rogers, which no longer exists.
Nearby was the Manhattan Soda Fountain, which specialised in American-style sundaes such as Knickerbocker Glory, Green Goddess, Purple Prince and Hangman’s Blood. The first burger that came to Pakistan, was of the desi variety – Hanifia’s hunter beef burger, accompanied by the sharp mustard sauce that is still relished today. For the longest time, it was the closest thing to a burger people in Karachi could have, and the first outlet in Nursery was jam-packed at all times. The real western style burger was introduced by the InterContinental Hotel in their coffee shop The Demi Tasse. An eight-ounce cheeseburger would set people back five rupees.
Looking back – with rose-tinted glasses?
Although there is a tendency to look back at the past with rose-tinted glasses, given the vibrant nightlife Karachi was known for in the fifties and sixties, not to mention the multitude of cinemas, coffee shops and restaurants, one cannot help but think that despite the progress that the city has witnessed over the decades, the Karachi of the past was, in many ways, a better place to live in.
As Mooraj states: “Karachi of the early fifties [was] a city that was safe and peaceful and where nobody ever seemed to be in any kind of hurry. People were also very tolerant, especially in the coffee houses where it was fashionable to hold left wing views and to express anti establishment sentiments. What a pity those lazy, carefree days are gone forever, like picture postcards, yellowed with age, stored in a half forgotten trunk, never to be opened again.”
Mamun M. Adil is a leading advertising and communications expert at Aurora. He can be contacted at email@example.com
INVESTING ICONS WITH STAR POWER
Durriya Kazi evokes the artists who created Pakistan’s iconic cinema posters.
In today’s multiplex cinema world, it is difficult to imagine how vibrant cinema was in the first three decades of a new country – Pakistan. From once there being between 1,500 and 2,000 cinema theatres across Pakistan, the number has, in the last 10 years, dwindled to less than 300, of which 70 are expensive multiplexes. This, when the worldwide audiences for cinema are rapidly increasing.
There has been much soul-searching about the reasons for this decline. An overlooked casualty of this trend is the end of the hand-painted cinema banners and posters. In 2007 alone, 75 artists from Lahore’s cinema distribution centre, Royal Park, lost their jobs due to digital posters and banners.
The film distributors considered the elaborate hand-painted banners and posters essential for the promotion of films. They were the trailers of films. It was impossible to miss a 150-foot long and 90-foot high banner, with its bright colours and larger-than-life stars. Tongas, with film posters strapped on either side, advertised the film street by street. The building façades of Royal Park were barely visible with multiple posters and mini banners announcing the newest films.
Cinema art has two distinct types of artists; the banner painters who paint canvases – large enough to cover the theatre frontage, usually in makeshift studios at the back of the cinema theatre; and the more refined poster painters who work in small, office-like studios.
The canvases are repainted over and over again and many repaired with patches of canvas not visible at street level. Watching a banner artist work deftly with wide, wall-painting brushes on an enlarged scale fills one with awe.
The banner painters insist that they make stars of actors. They make them larger-than-life, enhance their muscles and curves, fill their eyes with rage and turn tears into rivulets of sorrow. Fellow artists visit cinema theatres to admire or critique the latest work. One of the posters and banners most admired by fellow artists was for Ehsas, which had a realistically depicted plaster across Shabnam’s forehead. The style of the posters reflects the melodramatic nature of Pakistani films. Emotion is laid bare – rage, passion, desire, sorrow. In a country that increasingly encourages the covering of bodies, male and female, cinema art exists in a parallel reality of revealing clothes, seductive poses and overt sexuality.
The film distributors share stills of the completed film with the artist, who selects which scenes best represent the story. A compositional jargon is used for which actors or scenes should be ‘in’ (in the foreground and in full colour) and which ‘out’ (in the background and in mono-colour). Banners were painted in four stages – drawing, single, ground and finish; each stage having a different assistant.
Cinema art came to Pakistan from Bombay. The three main poster ustads trained in Bombay were Moinuddin Azad, Sardar Khan (better known as S. Khan) and Mustafa Chughtai.
Chugtai worked with an airbrush and was known for his fine, idealised images. He was equally criticised by fellow artists for this refinement and for not stylistically distinguishing male and female characters. Azad was considered the more realistic artist with his emotive brush strokes that better depicted the action and mood of the film and for showing male actors with more weather-beaten skin. S. Khan modernised Azad’s style, and with his son, Sarfaraz Iqbal or S. Iqbal, added more contemporary compositions and lettering. Their work came to define film posters of the sixties and seventies – Bano, Jehangira, Aashi, Sita Maryam Margaret (and even the whacky) Hunterwali. S. Iqbal adapted to photo collages and then compositions for panaflex, working right until his death in 2017 – the last of the great poster artists. The father-and-son team defined the public image of Waheed Murad, Rani, Neelo, Nadeem, Mohammed Ali, Shamim Ara, Babra Sharif, Badar Munir and in more recent times, Rahi, Shaan and Saima. Film-maker, Farjad Nabi documented S. Iqbal painting a poster of the film Rashoman for an exhibition of film posters in Japan, ‘Lollywood! Pakistani Film Posters’ (2006).
The best-known Karachi poster artists were: Wazir, who bought a lithographic machine from Azad, and is best-known for Begum Jaan; Kasim and A.H. Mahver (known for their more monochromatic palette) and banner painters who travelled between Karachi, Faisalabad and Multan, M.M., a favourite of Satish Anand, Pervez, Aslam and Jeewan who made banners for English films; Majid, Ghulam Rasool (Chota) Sarwar (better known as Arif Githa and Akhtar who was both an actor and an artist. There are only a few banner painters left in Karachi and in Lahore of whom Ajmal is the best-known. While some cinema artists such as Rafique, son of Mustafa Chughtai, went to an art school, most apprenticed at a young age. Ustad Allah Buksh was greatly respected by all and trained many a cinema painters.
The early cinema posters were printed as lithographs in single or two-colour. When technology grew in the sixties, these became of a better quality with four-colour printing. From the mid-eighties, pasted photographs were embedded into hand-painted artwork before completely succumbing to digital prints. Now it is difficult to distinguish an ordinary advertisement poster from a film poster. No more stars are ‘made’ by poster artists; they simply remain actors.
Today, while vintage posters fetch high prices, out-of-work cinema artists are driving rickshaws, painting political posters or churning out small paintings for galleries in Pakistan or Dubai. Ironically, handmade posters are still being produced in the digital west.
Only recently retired, Drew Struzan painted the most posters for American films in the last three decades including Back to the Future, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and the Star Wars films. James Jean, who also exhibits in art galleries, has painted the poster for the 2017 film Shape of Water, which had 13 nominations for the Oscars and won four, including one for the best picture.
Would Maula Jatt have become such a success without the blood-stained posters of Sultan Rahi? Would Neelo or Mira have looked quite so sexy? Mohammad Ali and Waheed Murad so romantic? Rani quite so tragic? Badar Munir so fierce? Hotspot and Guddu and a handful of poster enthusiasts have given poster art its due recognition, but the film industry, with the exception of Farjad Nabi and Meenu Gaur’s Zinda Bhaag, no longer commissions hand-painted posters.
Durriya Kazi is a Karachi-based artist and heads the Department of Visual Studies at the University of Karachi.
SPLENDOUR AMIDST MAGAZINES
Is there anything more satisfying than the simple act of a cover girl flipping through a hand-held magazine? Tauqeer Muhajir rediscovers the pleasure.
Reading magazines is one of the sedentary pursuits still considered a preference of many. Even though most of the magazines are enjoyed online, the content being more up-to-date and lively, printed magazines have a market of their own.
Their look and feel, the authenticity, accuracy and reliability of their information supersedes any other media, even today. Facts and opinions are quoted, believed and retained as records for references. Each one is like a time-capsule, with its articles and advertisements taking one back to a long-lost era and long-lost writers, whose opinions can now be evaluated in the light of what has transpired since then.
Many would argue and debate otherwise, but none can deny the impact of magazines on the advertising industry. One of the interesting aspects of a magazine on which its success is dependent, is the specific genre it represents in capturing a certain target audience. The bond with advertising is probably most evident in magazines for women, since they are the biggest and greatest buyers of consumer goods.
Women being one of the larger target audiences for magazines in Pakistan, we see more of fashion, beauty, food and household magazines surfacing since 1960. Back in the early days, only a handful of magazines existed under different genres. An entertaining and informative magazine for women called She surfaced in 1963, and its counterpart, Women’s Own in 1987. Published by Riaz Ahmed Mansuri, Women’s Own became popular and captured a fair share of advertising. Likewise, food magazines including Masala,Good Food and Dastarkhwan among others, enjoyed a large women readership and continue to do so.
On the fashion front, key publications, such as Fashion Collection (1991), Diva (2002) and Glam (2012) published by Hum Network, and the most recently-launched, international magazine Hello in 2012, have been quite successful.
Some of the well-established magazines also had an impact on social issues. The Mirror of the Month, better known as the Mirror, was a popular, Pakistani, social, monthly magazine which ran from 1951 to 1972. Its founding Editor, Zeb-un-Nissa Hamidullah, became the first woman editor in Pakistan. Her mission statement was to “foster feelings of unity and amity throughout the country.” The magazine was published at Din Muhammadi Press until the 1960s.
In October 1962, Begum Hamidullah wrote an open letter to President Ayub Khan. Titled ‘Please Mr. President!’ it expressed concern about the government’s treatment of student protests. The letter was published in the Mirror. It was an emotional statement, describing the feelings of the people, as they saw “the blood that stained the streets of Pakistan.”
She stated that owing to his authoritarian rule, she was losing her faith in him and had placed his picture upside down. In the November edition of the Mirror that year, she published his reply; a breakdown of the statements in her letter, each being justified. He concluded by saying, “I request [you] to ascertain facts before publishing highly emotional editorials.”
In 1969, before he stepped down, she republished ‘Please Mr. President!’, alongside a new editorial, ‘No, thank you, Sir’, in which she said that the problems which she talked about in ‘Please, Mr. President!’ were still very much there and that “Pakistan will continue to erupt as long as you, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, remain its President.” This editorial angered Ayub Khan, but, ironically, he took her advice in the end and abdicated in favour of General Yahya Khan.
Because of these events, the Mirror became highly controversial in the sixties. The tension between Begum Hamidullah and Ayub Khan escalated, resulting in the magazine being banned twice, and government advertisements almost completely revoked from the periodical.
In 1971, Begum Hamidullah moved to Ireland with her husband and the magazine folded the next year.
Two other monthlies on current affairs that reign above the rest include The Herald, published by The Dawn Media Group in 1970 and Newsline in 1989. Both magazines are looked upon by readers as authentic, reliable, political and social content.
One of the genres to gain popularity since the beginning were the showbiz magazines.
The word ‘Lollywood’ was first coined in the summer of 1989, in the now-defunct magazine Glamour, published from Karachi by gossip columnist Saleem Nasir. The film industry in Lahore started in 1929 with the opening of the United Players’ Studios on Ravi Road. Eastern Films Magazine, a tabloid edited by Saeed Haroon, became the most popular magazine for film buffs in Pakistan. The magazine had a questions-and-answers section called ‘Yours Impishly’ which the sub-editor, Asif Noorani, took inspiration for from I.S. Johar’s page in India’s Filmfare magazine. Another such magazine, Nigar, a brainchild of Ilyas Rashidi, also known as the pioneer of film journalism, was launched as a weekly film magazine in 1948. In 1957, the Nigar Awards were instituted as an extension of Nigar.
Urdu magazines enjoyed a larger readership than their English language counterparts. Much before the formation of Pakistan, a monthly magazine by the name of Hoor was launched in Lahore in 1938, with Khaula Qureshi as the Editor.
For general reading, Urdu Digest enjoys the privilege of being Pakistan’s first digest published in 1960. Weekly Muslim World was published in 1961 and Akhbar-e-Jahan, a weekly, Urdu language news and entertainment magazine, in 1967. Anchal, a monthly magazine started publication in 1969 with Agaz-uddin Qurashi as its Editor. During the early seventies, the magazine that gained popularity was Subrang Digest, launched in 1970, followed by Pakeeza in 1971 with Mairaj Rasool as Editor. Hassan Nisar started his career as a journalist from Dhanak Magazine in 1972. In 1982, Dosheeza, positioned as a family and fictional digest, emerged from Karachi with Saham Mirza as its Editor. Other popular Urdu language magazines in Pakistan include Khawateen Digest (1971), Kiran Monthly (1988), Hina Monthly (1979) and Mussarat Digest (1982).
For kids, the most notable magazine Hamdard Naunehal, published by Hakim Said, started in 1953 and still holds a large readership. Taleem-o-Tarbiat, established in 1961, published by Ferozsons in Lahore, became another popular magazine for kids.
Magazines and newspapers flourished from the sixties to the nineties. Print advertising was the most important advertising medium, although not the only one. The other choice was posters and billboards. More promising was film advertising, which lagged behind print advertising but remained a strong choice until Radio Pakistan allowed advertising in the sixties. When TV arrived in the mid-sixties, advertising moved towards the new medium.
As we stand at the beginning of 2018, the magazine sector may not appear to be a lucrative business proposition to many, with digital printing reigning high. However, the significance of print media, its steadfastness and accuracy is undeniable. Opinion makers and leaders rely on print media and quote information published in newspapers and magazines. Print will continue to go to bed, to rise and shine every morning.
Tauqeer Muhajir is Editor and Publisher of Nigaah and Money magazines. He is also the co-author of two art books: 20 Pakistani Painters You Should Know and Six Decades Of Art In Pakistan.
The editorial content of this Dawn Special Report has been prepared in collaboration with the editorial team of Aurora, and designed by the Creative Department, Xpert Services Pvt. Ltd.