The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has issued an advisory for broadcasters and advertisers urging them to refrain from using themes and content which do not correspond with the nature of the product being marketed.
In an advisory issued on October 5, the authority said that the content of ordinary consumer products, such as biscuits and detergent, being aired on TV channels was not corresponding with the nature of the product.
The advisory comes after some social media users expressed displeasure with an advertisement of Gala biscuit, starring actress Mehwish Hayat, that has been running on TV channels.
"The trend is causing/promoting unrest and behavioral disturbance among viewers being not only in violation of commonly accepted standards of decency but also socio-cultural norms of Pakistani society," Pemra stated, adding that viewers were criticising the regulatory body on social media for allowing satellite TV channels to air such "indecent advertisements".
"Viewers are of the view that airing advertisements regarding general consumer products in such a bizarre manner [...] is unwarranted and needs to be looked into. In addition, complainants are of the opinion that presentation of products in such a manner is wittingly or unwittingly merely aiming to promote consumerism which also requires due consideration by all stakeholders."
The authority urged the Pakistan Broadcaster Association, the Pakistan Advertising Association and the Pakistan Advertisers Society to sensitise their members about the public's concerns and to specifically review the content for the Gala biscuit advertisement by giving due credence to the public's apprehensions and the relevant provisions of the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct, 2015.
"All stakeholders are further advised to stop the rampant use of themes/content which do not corresponding with the nature of the products."
The advisory also urged the satellite TV channel to have the visuals of advertisements reviewed by their respective in-house monitoring committee prior to being aired in the "best interest of viewers [and our] culture" and to save customers from consumerism.
After Hayat's advertisement was released, many netizens took to social media to point out how the visuals went against the "norms" of Pakistani society.
In a tweet, columnist and journalist Ansar Abbasi dubbed the advertisement a "mujra" and called upon Pemra to take action against it.
Replying to the journalist's tweet, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan added that the premier was against such "anti-Islamic stuff" which goes against cultural norms and has "damaging effects on the youth".
Others on social media, however, pointed out that the advertisement did not merit the type of backlash it received.