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ADVERTISING IN PAKISTAN

Evolution of Advertising.!!!

Advertising in Pakistan
Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to
your own wife. Don't tell them to mine. ~ David Ogilvy
History will see advertising "as one of the real evil things of our time. It is stimulating people
constantly to want things, want this, and want that." ~ Malcolm Muggeridge1
We want the consumers to say that is a hell of a product instead of that is a hell of an ad- Leo
Burnett
Advertising has come a long way in our part of the world. From just two television channels (PTV/
STN) and one radio channel (Radio Pakistan) to myriad of television (satellite and cable) and radio
channels, not to forget the numerous digital communication methods available, Pakistani media
landscape is thoroughly fragmented. For advertisers/clients, the evolution has certainly brought not
only opportunities, but a lot of challenges as well that need to be addressed in order to effectively
communicate with the target audience, to have satisfactory P&Ls and also to make the presence felt
in the international advertising/brand world.
According to the American Marketing Association, advertising is the placement of announcements
and persuasive messages in time or space purchased in any of the mass media by business firms,
nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and individuals who seek to inform and/ or persuade
members of a particular target market or audience about their products, services, organizations, or
ideas.
In general, advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers,
readers or listeners) to take some action. It usually includes the name of a product or service and
how that product or service could benefit the consumer, to persuade potential customers to purchase
or to consume that particular brand. Modern advertising developed with the rise of mass production
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Changing face of advertising: Has it really come a long way in Pakistan?
The answer to this will be discussed by taking into consideration the following perspectives:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Changing consumers
Advertising Agencies
Advertising content-relevance, simplicity and unexpectedness?
Emerging vs. Traditional media

quoted in Eric Clarks The Want Makers: Inside the World of Advertising, 1988

1) Changing Consumers:
Informed Consumers:
Consumers have become smarter and more discerning. The notion that consumers are
gullible no longer holds true, courtesy of the information revolution. They have numerous
media and sources at their disposal to crosscheck all claims and offerings. Especially, at this
time of downturn the consumers have become more suspicious of what is being offered to
them. In fact, because of the rising inflation they have become more price and value
conscious. "It's more important than ever that you get closer to your consumers and how
they are thinking at this moment in time, and, even more importantly, where you think they
are heading." Brands must adapt to people's new consumer mantra of "stop, look, listen", in
order to reconnect. (Cleft, 2010)
Moreover, consumers have the knowledge, power and authority to challenge the present
advertising. Consumers decide how they want to see, relate, network, interact, sift and shield
themselves from the advertising bombarded at them. (Lucas, 2009).
More choices:
A few decades ago, there were only one or two choices in each product category for the
consumer to choose from. Now, there are unlimited brands available and some of them even
provided to us at our door steps. This situation has put the marketers in a predicament,
making them muse over and over and come up with the right mix for their target market.
The risk of an unsatisfied consumer shifting to other brands has increased drastically with
the increasing choices.
Millennials or Alpha Teens:
The sharp, smart and techno savvy young consumer which makes up more than fifty percent
of our market presents an enormous opportunity for the marketer. Without having any
doubts in mind, marketers do realize this colossal market. They are using two methods of
encashing this opportunity:
I.

Marketing to Kids: Making brands catering especially to this kids/tweens segment.


Example: chocolates, candies, biscuits etc. One particular example can be Gluco
biscuit which advertises solely to children.

II.

Marketing through Kids: Considering the level of influence (Pester Power) kids
exert on the family decision-making process, from toothpastes to cars, we see almost
every category advertisement with kids singing, dancing and smiling in them. Apart
from the pester power factor, another major reason that marketers give for using
kids in their ads is that the present influencers will be the future consumers and it is
better to remain in their awareness set from the earliest part of their life.

For marketers the key to winning the hearts of these alpha teens or any age group is
experiential marketing i.e. making them experience your brand. Today, it's a two-way
conversational world. Effective marketing means participation and interaction of the
consumer with the brand. (Precourt, 2009)
Shopping smarter
The new consumer mantra is "look, stop and listen" before buying. People's habits have
been modified in terms of both frequency and quantity of purchases (WARC). Because of
the escalating inflation rates people have become more price conscious and value conscious
than ever before. The challenge here for the advertisers is to create a fine balance between
the emotional and rational elements that they use in advertising in order to get the right level
of consumer response.

What can the marketers do?


Getting the audience to respond through advertising
The best way to come up with great advertising content and to stay relevant to the target
audience is to conduct research. Research means not only obtaining facts but also identifying
the truth behind those facts. These insights would be The Nuggets that would help to
connect with the target audience and strike an emotional chord. The critical question to ask
while doing research is why for every behavior in the target audience. This will be helpful
in not just grabbing consumer attention but will also make them respond.
Secondly, make the consumers experience your brand and interact with your brand. (Please
also see Martin Linstroms Brand Sense and Brand Activation for creating the brand
experience)

2) Advertising Agencies:
Some of the challenges that are faced by the advertising agencies are:
a. Lack of professional management:
Firstly, ownership should be separated from the management. The Seths or the owners do not
necessarily have a creative flair for advertising. It is imperative that people having the required
credentials are given the task to manage these agencies. Secondly, every person has a
specialization and a field. Advertising is not a one mans job. However, we have commercial
directors playing the role of creative directors and so on.
b. Attracting and retaining the top talent:
People are moving to greener pastures. It could be because the advertising profession is not
given the desired level of respect. Most of the talented people in the industry move to the client
side. Secondly, the right level of compensation is extremely important to retain the talent.
c. Training and development:
The industry does not have a penchant for training and development of its resources by holding
seminars, workshops, and discussion forums. The preconceived notion is that creativity cannot
be learnt. However, all these are required in order to come up with the world class campaigns
and original work, and to help that creativity flow.
d. Greater flexibility and speed requirement:
Flexibility and adaptability are required in order to survive in this fast paced environment.
Clients have become more demanding and at the same time they want things to be completed in
a very short time span.
e. Agencies need to change their mind sets.
Advertising agencies need to think beyond the conventional forms of advertising both in terms
of content and media, and learn from their more developed counterparts in other countries.
f.

Obdurate clients:
Sometimes agencies have abundant ideas available but they are unable to convince the clients to
adopt the idea either because of the heavy budget requirements, risk evasiveness of the clients or
the clients dictating the concepts to the agencies. This is also a major challenge that agencies in
Pakistan face.

3) Advertising Content:
Creativity in Advertising:
What is creativity? Ever wondered why foreign ads are better than the Pakistani ads? The answer
to this is two-fold. Majority of the client side in Pakistan tends to be very risk averse. They want
to try the clichd, mundane and tested formulae in order to ensure success for the brand.
Sometimes, new ideas are not tried because the brand managers underestimate the target
audiences intelligence level and a major concern becomes that they wont really understand
this piece of communication.
On the advertisers side, it is because of the sheer lack of creative talent. Either we see ads with
the same banal appeal to them or the good ones which are mostly inspired by the foreign
versions. There are only a handful of advertisements that are original, creative and relevant at the
same time. Creative ads can do wonders to attract and hold attention, but the fact is that most ads
are not very interesting for the target audience (Beal, 2007).
What elements in the ad would do wonders, both for the client and the agency? According to
Saadia Qutubuddin (head of ideas at AdCom), ads need to be simple, relevant and different. And
a creative ad (by having these elements rightly put in place) could be ensured only by getting the
right insight.
Dearth of the BIG IDEA!
As media and messaging fragment then the requirement for some kind of campaign glue
increases. The best modern campaigns have at their heart one simple big idea based on a truth
about the brand, an idea that can be articulated in a whole host of different ways across media
and geography, against different product needs, internally and externally (Carroll, 2005). A
prominent example is the Coca-colas core creative idea of Open Happiness. The campaign
was successfully led in all Cokes regions with regional customization and had a message that
was synced across all platforms, be it digital, print, TV, radio or below-the-line activations.
Take the example of Surf Excel Dirt is good, Brites Daagh to chala jaye ga. Can you think
of other such campaigns?
Breaking through the clutter
According to Shohaib Qureishy, CEO Bulls Eye, in the year 2000 the Pakistani consumers used
to be exposed to 2500 spots daily. In the year 2010, the number of spots the consumers is
exposed to daily have gone up to 25,000. More information (CLUTTER) leads to more
confusion which results in lesser retention and lesser chances of getting into the consideration of
the target audience.

This doesnt mean that advertisers are developing ads because it is an easy and cheap option.
The costs of production and airing have gone up dramatically. Millions of rupees are required in
order to come up with a right piece of advertisement. The question is why waste so much money
if it is almost impossible to get into consumers minds.
Marketers can definitely overcome the clutter problem by:
1. Develop clutter cutting ads: novel and unconventional ideas required to break
through the clutter.
2. Branded contents: TV is still the primary medium of communication, so develop TV
content which is entertaining and linked to the essence of your brand. Examples:
Hero bannay ki Tarang, Fair and lovely Kismet kay Sitaray, LG Awaz Banai Star,
Mountain Dew survivor campaign, Nesvita Woman of Strength, Olpers
Tanhaiyaan, Ariel Maa and the list goes on.
3. On ground activities not only create some level of entertainment for our
entertainment starved nation but also help to demonstrate and explain product
attributes. It helps the consumers to come in direct contact with the brand and makes
them experience the brand.
4. Product placement: placing your product in movies, dramas, and soaps in a subtle
manner. You must have seen BMW, Nokia, McDonalds, Coke and other brands
either being used by the actors or in the background somewhere.directly hitting
our subconscious! No zipping and zapping!
5. Other unconventional marketing techniques: branded human skin, Graffiti, reverse
graffiti, branding trees, parking lots, stairs. There are numerous ways through which
you can get your message across and in an unconventional manner. Imagination is
the key and sky is the limit.
6. Use of PR: The PR industry in Pakistan is at a very nascent stage and unfortunately
the significance of PR has not been properly understood by our marketers. It is only
related to the press releases, articles, stories or networking. However, PR has the
ability to spearhead the entire brand communication platform based on its core
strengths and the position it wants to carve inside the audiences minds. It has the
capacity to create news that works towards achieving the brand objectives (Hashmi,
2006)
Endorsements
Celebrities/Endorsers should be an essential component in the advertising campaigns as per the
BBC Sigma 1 model. Endorsers create hype for the brand, their popularity and star appeal draws
people to watch the commercial (and potentially buy the product) and they come with a certain
level of credibility attached to them (Andrew, 2010). However, the biggest challenge for the
Pakistani marketers is the dearth of celebrities. This is the reason because of which we see the
same faces in dozens of ads and as a result they lose their credibility and make the consumers
feel the commercial motive behind their endorsements. Another important thing that the
marketers fail to realize is the link between the celebrity and the brand. The celebrity has to be

the right fit for the brand; the brand and the celebrity should have the same personality, beliefs
and basic values (Andrew, 2010). Another important challenge is the link between the brand and
the celebrity itself, any negative news about the celebrity would also hurt the image of the brand.
This is more relevant in the case of brand ambassadors. Celebrities can do wonders for the
brand, however, a lot of attention to these details is required in order to avoid any kind of brand
catastrophe.
Advertising Wear out
No matter how much we love an ad, we get sick and tired of watching the same ad over and over
again. Advertising wear out is another major challenge for the marketers of today. What is the
right number of spots? This is where a very important role of media planning and buying
agencies comes in. There are a number of media buying houses in Pakistan such as MindShare,
T- Media, Orient edge and many others which can help the marketers in overcoming this issue
by picking the right channel, time and frequency for the ads.
Another important factor through which marketers can overcome this problem is through
cosmetic and substantive variation. Cosmetic variation is the use of different background, print
type, and advertising spokespersons. Substantive variations are changes in the advertising
content across different versions of an advertisement. Example stressing two different attributes
of the same product ((Kanuk, 2004)

4. Ethics in Advertising
a. Advertising to kids: (Source: GENMARK CONFERENCE: March 2010)
Advertising to kids is considered to be very lucrative. The various reasons behinds it. Firstly
in the Pakistan kids make up more than fifty percent of the market. Therefore, developing
products specially catering to the needs and requirements of this segment would fare
maximum revenue in terms of volume. Secondly, exposing kids to the brand at an early age
would result in them using this later on their life also. But kids are very much gullible; they
dont know what is right or wrong for them. So advertising to the kids poses a very big
question mark.
b. Obesity
Fast food/ junk food with zero nutritional value have become a very important part of our
lives. The obesity prevalence rates for adults aged 25 to 64 years, moving from low to
middle to high socioeconomic status (and rounding to the nearest whole number): for rural
areas, 9%, 15%, and 27%; for urban areas, 21%, 27%, and 42%. These figures are
alarmingly high for rural and urban areas but especially for urban areas. This implies that the
health burden from overweight and obesity in Pakistan is currently underestimated.

c. Emotional well being


Can you think of brands that affect your perceptions about yourself, belittle you, and
ridicule your looks /your personality? I am sure there numerous brands dancing inside your
heads. From fairness creams to height enhancing medicines, to luxury brands, the list goes
on.
d. Financial self-control
Lease, credit cards and other such things make the consumers want goods which they
otherwise were not in a position to afford. And then finally, there comes a time where
consumers are suppressed by a huge mountain of debt.
e. Impact on behavior
Does the advertising make the use of drugs/cigarettes, violence, sex more glamorous?
Should the children, adolescents, youngsters be exposed to such content? Do you think are
our behavior, our values are gradually drifting because of this low level content?
f.

Stealth marketing
Stealth marketing is undercover marketing whereby people dont realize that they are being
marketed to. A paid celebrity could be asked to use a certain brand visibly at a place where
people congregate which results in the creation of BUZZ for the brand.

5) Deceptive Advertising
Following are the examples related to the deception in advertising:

Up to 75% percent off?

Photo manipulation: Big size, scrumptious burgers or food and what do you get in
actuality?

Pay only Rs. 50,000 down payment for the plot!!! No hidden charges disclosed

False labeling and illustrations: Rooh Afza had to change its packaging for the Saudi
market because the picture on the bottle claimed that it was made up of different
fruits. However the lab test revealed no such ingredients.

Fillers and oversized packaging: big packet of crisps with few chips inside

False claims: Zedol hair oil failed because of the false claims that it had made
regarding hair growth

Beyond the 30 second spot.A question of which medium should be used?


The 30-second spot is in decline for four primary reasons: there's too much clutter; creativity
sucks; consumers are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and they're able to find what
they're looking for without our help; and finally, it represents unacceptable levels of wastage,
resulting in a lack of ROI and overall accountability. The 30-second spot no longer tells people
things they don't know about, but rather things that marketers think they need to know about. It's all
quite twisted and certainly not consumer-centric. (Feld, 2006)
Have the Pakistani marketers understood this changing phenomenon? The answer is both yes and no.
The leading local companies are trying to follow their MNC counterparts. Marketers need to change
their mind sets when it comes to the digital media, activation, product placements etc. However, the
majority of the Seth organizations need to come out of the orthodox mind set.
Although in our part of the world TV will remain the major medium of communication, however,
the importance of emerging media cannot be overlooked. Use such of social networking media as
Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn and other online promotional methods are fast gaining popularity. In
order to reach right the consumers, it is important not to overlook these important touch points.
Radio and outdoor are other very important media available. According to Muizeh Senai of City FM
89 (Aurora), radio is far more affordable and accessible (thanks to the widespread usage of cell
phones). It is even considered to be the most intimate of advertising mediums (Other unconventional
media have been discussed previously also). The question is that are Pakistani marketers effectively
utilizing these media or are they using these media at all?

References:
Andrew, M. (2010, jan-feb). Pied pipers or pretty faces. aurora .
Beal, B. R. (2007). We'll be right back. Honest: how Seriously Short Breaks keep viewers
around to watch the ads. ESOMAR .
Carroll, J. (2005, february). 10 Principles For Marketing In The Age Of Engagement. Ad Map
Magazine .
Cleft, J. (2010, February). The UK Consumer Outlook for 2010 - Insights from The Futures
Company. WARC Exclusive .
Feld, J. (2006). Resuscitating The 30-Second Spot. The Advertiser .
hashmi, s. f. (2006, nov-dec). the fall of PR . Synergizer .
Kanuk, L. G. (2004). Consumer Behavior.
Lucas, O. (2009, November-December). The Butterfly Effect. Aurora .
Precourt, G. (2009, November). Method Cleaning Products: The New "Method" Marketing Model.
WARC Exclusive .
a.
Beal, B. R. (2007). We'll be right back. Honest: how Seriously Short Breaks keep viewers
around to watch the ads. ESOMAR .
Carroll, J. (2005, february). 10 Principles For Marketing In The Age Of Engagement. Ad Map
Magazine .
Cleft, J. (2010, February). The UK Consumer Outlook for 2010 - Insights from The Futures
Company. WARC Exclusive .
Feld, J. (2006). Resuscitating The 30-Second Spot. The Advertiser .
Lucas, O. (2009, November-December). The Butterfly Effect. Aurora .
Precourt, G. (2009, November). Method Cleaning Products: The New "Method" Marketing Model.
WARC Exclusive .

Beal, B. R. (2007). We'll be right back. Honest: how Seriously Short Breaks keep viewers
around to watch the ads. ESOMAR .
Feld, J. (2006). Resuscitating The 30-Second Spot. The Advertiser .