30 years on, AdAsia moot returns to Lahore

Updated 04 Dec 2019

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LAHORE: Actors Fawad Khan and Atiqa Odho speaking during a session at the AdAsia Advertising Congress on Tuesday.
—Murtaza Ali / White Star
LAHORE: Actors Fawad Khan and Atiqa Odho speaking during a session at the AdAsia Advertising Congress on Tuesday. —Murtaza Ali / White Star

LAHORE: Former senator and federal minister Javed Jabbar has said that advertising is a mirror of socio-cultural realities of any society and holding on good values, traditions, standards and ideals not only shape society but human society at large that promotes humanism in its most sublime sense.

“Advertising needs to make fundamental choices of ethics and limits to pursue profit and greed,” Mr Jabbar suggested while speaking at the inaugural session of three-day AdAsia Advertising Congress based on a theme: “Celebrasian: Celebration of Advertising and Creativity in Asia” at Alhamra Hall on Tuesday.

AdAsia has come back to Lahore after 30 years.

Acknowledging that advertising is also a mirror of economic reality — good, no so good or ailing — without any choice, the former senator stressed that the advertising needed to make fundamental choices of ethics and limits to pursue profit and greed. “This can be preserved besides the overall responsibility of doing one’s job,” he said.

Regrettably, he said, the world had surrendered itself to the greed of market economy and added that even the socialist countries had adopted capitalism and communism. “Do we need to promote consumption and discard conservation of this irreplaceable planet in the name of development?” he asked and lamented that about one million living species would be threatened with complete extinction over the next 15 to 20 years.

Mr Jabbar pointed out that advertising was always a part of media content, but the non-advertising content of media had sanctity and must be separated from the advertising content. “This line should be treated as a sacred line — the red line,” he warned.

However, he said, advertising was pre-dominantly becoming part of media content and shaping the nature and timing of the programmes. Stating that advertising becoming too inclusive, aggressive and pervasive, he lamented that “dangerous line had been crossed”. “There is no harm in exercising restraint; advertising will not lose its impact, if it respects the fine line.”

Stating that fusion of creativity and commerce can be preserved, Mr Jabbar stressed that advertising needed to reflect the finest elements of not one country or continent’s society in the face of unprecedented structural change of revamping of across print media with the advent of interest, artificial intelligence and fake news and promotion of intolerance. In this situation, he said, the “challenges of advertising creativity grow rather than diminish” and hoped that the next 30 years would be so exciting and unpredictable as the past 30 years were.

Referring to Moody’s upgrade of Pakistan’s sovereign rating from B3 negative to B3 stable, Mr Jabbar said advertising and stability in the country were robbed by so much speculation, so much maligning, so much misrepresentation. “Pakistan is so much misunderstood and misrepresented country in the world,” he commented. However, he said, most of overseas delegates and visitors, whom he meet, usually say, “What a different place Pakistan is!”

AdAsia Organising Committee chairman Sarmad Ali said the advertising industry had faced many ups and downs but always survived and hoped that the industry would also come out of the current crisis and emerge a vibrant industry.

“As we used 1989’s AdAsia conference as a launch-pad for Pakistan’s advertising industry, the current 2019 conference will be used as a re-launch pad of advertising and media communication industry in Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Ali said the Bali’s AdAsia conference’s baton handed over to him represented dreams and aspirations. “We want to pass hopes and dreams to our younger generation that define new Pakistan.”

Earlier, AdAsia Bali Conference 2017 chairperson Maya Watono presented the conference baton to AdAsia Organising Committee 2019 chairman Sarmad Ali.

The organising committee presented AdAsia Leader­ship Award to Khawar Masood Butt, which was received by his daughter. The Hall of Fame Award was given to Javed Jabbar, Merit Award to Sarmad Ali, Special Merit Award to Jonathan Chen and Merit of Service Award to Tariq Rasheed.

Asian Federation of Adver­tising Associations chairman Raymond So also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019