Everything Wrong with Pakistani Advertisements!

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What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘advertisement’ in Pakistan? For me, it’s “OTT scenarios and a cringe-fest.”

Don’t get me wrong, Pakistan is a country with immense talent and an abundance of creative minds, but unfortunately, we don’t get to see it in our advertisements very often. I don’t know who to blame because the agencies are coming up with ideas on the briefs they are given, and the final approval also comes from the brand itself, but where is the creativity?

I understand that keeping over-the-top themes will get people talking, which is obviously good for the brand, but this tactic is overused to the extent that, as a viewer, I can’t help but cringe and either mute my television or change channels when one of the many idiotic TVCs show up on the screen.

Why can’t these brands and agencies make something so good that people are forced to talk about them? We have seen some great advertisements that garnered all the attention because they were different and very pleasing. For me, Ufone ads written by Faisal Qureshi will always take the cake (What about you?).

If you are a television viewer, there might be an ad that grinds your gears because I have quite a few. Such bad ads make me question the creativity levels of the ad agencies and brand vision. With my years of experience in hating the TVCs, I have compiled a list of things that I find very wrong with Pakistani advertisements. Without any further ado, let’s jump right into it.

It’s a responsibility on an agency’s part to come up with unique and creative ideas that the brand just can’t say no to.

  1. The Need to Sing and Dance 

No matter how much emphasis I put on this point, it still won’t be enough. Where is our advertising industry headed if our go-to approach is to have people dancing, singing, and basically having the time of their lives just because they use a certain dish soap?

Be it an ad for a shampoo or cooking oil, almost every other brand relies on making their actors dance and sing along to a  song that makes no sense. Most women dislike washing dishes, but according to our dish soap advertisements, all the worries in the world go away when you wash them. With plates dancing to lemons and mint leaves flying around in the kitchen, everything seems perfect at that moment.

My problem with including singing and dancing is that it has become a necessary part of ads instead of a one-time thing. A few decades back, only a few commercials came out with jingles, and they are still considered iconic because not everyone was doing it. Today, the Pakistani advertisement industry is on overkill with all this out of place over excitement.

2. Lack of Originality 

Except for a few ads, have you seen anything out of the box or unique in recent times? I haven’t. Either we are too happy in our advertisements or too emotional; there is no middle ground.

In some ads, we are celebrating like there’s no tomorrow, and in the others, we are being too preachy by playing melancholic music and being extra nice to be able to tap the emotional side of the audience.

Most of our emotional ads include relationships between parents and children, while ‘happy’ ads revolve around someone getting married. I think marriage is a gold standard to promote tea whiteners, cooking oils, soft drinks, ice creams; in short, every other product.

To all the advertisement agencies, please think of something else… PLEASE.

Most women dislike washing dishes, but according to our dish soap advertisements, all the worries in the world go away when you wash them.

3. Getting Viral > Quality 

Unfortunately, the absolute need to stay in the limelight and be viral has gotten in the way of creativity. This is not just a problem in Pakistan, but global markets are also struggling to stay relevant and relying on getting viral to gain traction.

The brands and agencies only focus on getting the attention without caring about it being good or bad. They want people to talk about their product, and churning out trashy ads does the job.

Except for a few ads that hit it out of the park, most thrive on bad publicity. What people don’t understand is that when they talk about the ad and share it in the name of humour, the brand achieves what it initially intended to, which is being talked about.

Quality is no more a concern which is alarming. Brands are unwilling to take a chance as their priorities have shifted from producing quality content to producing viral content. SAD!

4. English Songs with Questionable Lyrics

Yes, I know we’ve talked about singing earlier but just hear me out. I am a sucker for good music, and English songs are at the top of my list, but the lyrics and music produced for Pakistani advertisements are simply CATASTROPHIC.

The new trend of creating songs using English lyrics and pop music has no impact on a wider audience. What exactly is the target audience for such ads? The lyrics are bad, doesn’t connect, fall flat, and audio mixing is awful with all kinds of effects used together.

The lyrics, in general, are bad barring a few Urdu songs used in emotional ads. Pakistan is a country of talented musicians, and platforms like Coke Studio are proof to it. The advertising industry needs to work on creating good music if they want to connect to their audience.

Quality is no more a concern which is alarming. Brands are unwilling to take a chance as their priorities have shifted from producing quality content to producing viral content.

5. Bad Ideas = Bad Execution 

In my opinion, the process of generating ideas is flawed. Although I understand that brands have their own ideas and agencies have to follow the briefs provided to them, there is always a way to achieve something creative.

It’s a responsibility on an agency’s part to come up with unique and creative ideas that the brand just can’t say no to. Many people might not agree with me, but I believe agencies have become lazy in developing good ideas. They are not pushing themselves enough to think out-of-the-box and simply play it too safe. They have figured out that OTT sells, and they are sticking to it without realizing the deteriorating state of the industry.

What the creative industry needs to realize is that viewers have become smart and have strong opinions on everything. Hence the brands and agencies need to fix their attitude towards the viewer, or else we will only see bad advertisements.

These were some of the things I have noticed and have developed a dislike for over the years. Some may agree with me while others might not, but we can all agree that the state of advertising in Pakistan is bad and needs to level up tremendously.  Any slightly different ad comes across as creative because the bar is very low.

I really wish that our brands and agencies will get out of their overkill mode and change perspectives regarding the content that they are producing. Till then, we can sit and critique the hell out of our not-so-great ads.

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