Brothers, sisters, and non-binary individuals (insert self-deprecating woke joke here) of the Pakistani marketing community, I hope you have survived the recent advertising award show and its LinkedIn aftermath without any significant damage to your mental health.

From the poor agency freshers that have been tasked with filling out those insanely intricate forms to the brand-side MTs responsible for getting the information from archaic systems, all the way to literally every middle manager in the ecosystem being invited in as a jury member, the lead-up to this annual ritual is often brutal. The bigwigs anxiously await what they can offer as tribute to their foreign principals. Did we make it as a marketer of the year? How many golds until we are labeled the most effective agency network? Was the effort of dedicating so much of your team’s productive time to create that perfect case study submission and video worth it in the end? A lot is on the line, and that’s not even discounting the ‘other’ award show that happens right after this – but nobody really takes it seriously except as a hedge in case they don’t win big enough in the former.

Look, I get it. Industry recognition is important. But must we always go through these intense pay-per-entry hoops just because that’s what gora folk do? What about local insight and culture? What about the things that are considered wins strictly in the Pakistani context? Shouldn’t advertising award show cater to the market dynamics and realities of our region? I, for one, have had enough.

So without further ado (and WITH that cliche line, unfortunately), I present to you “The Maza Nahin Aaaya Awards” – Pakistan’s most localized and honest advertising award platform. Think of the MNA Awards as that shitty Option C in every agency deck; it’s not creative or logical, but it’s simpler to execute, so everybody agrees to it eventually. That’s our vision here – to make the show capture the real ‘wins’ of the local advertising scene – sans the pretentious metrics. It’s unapologetically desi, and as readers of Synergyzer, I invite you all to participate in its first iteration.

Instead of a shiny metal block (that eventually goes into the brand manager’s mantle, and thus agency folks have to ‘buy’ an overpriced replica from the organizers), we’ll give you a Mcdonald’s coupon for 2 pax – ultimately, they are more useful and valuable in this economy anyway. No need to worry about purchasing a seat at our fancy gala event, we’ll do the whole show on a Zoom call, and since we’re too cheap to get the paid plan, it’ll be over in 40 minutes anyway so that you can get back to your… uh… exciting after-work life. Here are some of the categories where you could win big:

Slavemaster of the Year

For agency and brand teams that treat work-life balance as a myth from a long-lost civilization, we present this exquisite honor. Your employer is already shortlisted if your boss gives you that look when you try to leave before 6 pm. Your organization’s chances to win get even better if more than 5 of your employees have reported nervous breakdowns during the current calendar year. After your neglected kids, this is perhaps the best recognition you’ll get of all those late nights and forgotten weekends.

Logo Bara Kardo Lifetime Achievement Award

This category is only applicable for brands (and some agency folks that have internalized this as the secret to quick approvals). For brand managers that constantly insist on supersizing their logos (often more than the campaign’s idea itself) and can demonstrate adherence to this dogma across their career, this is an easy one to cinch.

King (or Queens) of Khanchas

Also known as dealmakers or kickback artists, this accolade is a testament to those in mid-management who have mastered the art of discreetly skimming off the top and dealing under the table, whether its in currency or more ‘creative’ kickbacks such as cars, iPhones, or favors. As they say, “It’s only wrong if you get caught.” which is why it’s difficult to accurately gauge the veracity of contestant claims – so we’ve made it super simple: you can just buy this award outrightly. Bid high, though; 10% is just amateur hour here.

The “Seriously? Them?” Medallion

From celebrities who have never interacted with the product, they endorse to those who seemingly sprouted a new skill overnight, our “Seriously? Them?” medallion pays tribute to the most mismatched brand-celebrity pairings. Mahira, have you ever, just once, washed your face with a Lux bar? We didn’t think so. Any and every Pakistani celebrity endorsing a non-Apple smartphone is automatically nominated because of obvious reasons. Wasim bhai and his washing powder are banned from participating in this one to keep the competition fair for newcomers.

“Can’t wait for AdMadDude to review this” Viewer’s Choice Awards

Let’s kick things off with an award dedicated to the tireless efforts of brands to make it onto everyone’s favorite roasting platform. If you’re not already on the receiving end of his tirade, you’re doing something wrong. We recommend going for a formulaic song-and-dance to get on his radar and pairing it with an abrasive product integration to top it off. If you think your ad has been wrongly ignored by AMD and is plateauing at mere KAMN trolls, this award will definitely help you get to proper recognition faster.

The Chaapa Cup

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say. Our Spot-the-Difference award recognizes both agencies (and brands who ask for exact references for approval but will later feign ignorance) and those who creatively lift international ad concepts and sneakily repurpose them for Pakistani audiences. Plagiarism? Nah, fam – it’s ‘efficient innovation’! If you feel like you don’t have a ‘pure’ Chaapa nomination, not to worry – we will also be accepting entries from production houses that will make ‘moving boards’ made out of global ads and sort of reshoot them to make a local Frankenstein.

The Red Tape Regalia

Here’s to the brands that put us through painfully complicated and torturous RFP processes. If you’ve ever handed out an RFP that was thicker than a bowl of oatmeal, this category is for you! While this is typically won by procurement departments, aspiring brand managers can also try their luck by submitting excessively painful pitch processes- ideally with incomplete information, unrealistic submission timelines, and basically enough freebies built-in as ‘requirements’ that they can ‘repurpose’ to show their bosses as next year’s detailed marketing strategy.

Career Crisis Category: The “Counting Days” Certificate

A special award for the agencies that make employees pray, beg, and plead before they see their paycheck. If you’ve lost track of the calendar whilst waiting for your employer to deposit the salary, it’s time to claim the “Counting Days” award.

Career Crisis Category: The “Leapfrog” Certificate

Jumping from one agency to another faster than you can say “pay rise”? If your resume has more than 4 switches in 4 years, you might be eligible for our “Leapfrog” certificate. After all, who needs loyalty or career continuity when you can get an employer-FOMO raise?

The What-a-Bahana Special

Only applicable for client-facing resources – and maybe finance departments dealing with ‘vendors’, this special award takes into account your creative ability to come up with outlandish but barely passable excuses that have helped delay commitments effectively. Agency-side applicants note that “hard drive crash hogayee” entries are no longer acceptable as of 2010 and the advent of SSDs. Finance professionals that use “signatory away on travel” in their applications will be given an ‘unimaginative excuse’ deduction on their scores.

So there you have it. Finally – an award show for Pakistani advertising that doesn’t beat about the bush and gets down to the brass tacks of what matters in our industry. And lest any of you think this article is the work of just another creative-type being passive-aggressive because they didn’t win big at the other award shows – here’s a veiled threat: Guess who’s going to be the default winner in the secret “Mindless Maza Nahin Aaaya Feedback”’ category?

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Legend has it that there's always a hammock reserved for Umair Kazi on a beach in southern Thailand, which he acquired by selling one of his kidneys. He can be reached at