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At the cost of creativity.

It is no open secret that most Pakistani TV commercials are not produced in the country anymore for a number of reasons, from lack of professional talent on both sides of the camera to paucity of good locations, the cost factor and pooling together of commercials by certain multinational companies to achieve better economies of scale. It appears now that the TV commercial making industry is almost disappearing from the country and even the thinking part is being done outside to fit campaigns that are conceived by clients to address a bigger and wider market than just the Pakistani consumer.

At the same time, however, it is quite frustrating that the biggest spenders in the Pakistani advertising arena at present, namely the telecoms, seem to have kept their thinking caps aside and, in a bid to compete at whatever cost, they are indulging in producing concepts that simply do not do justice to their own good sense as well as that of the agencies and the commercial producers. It is true that many of these commercials are being rendered outside the country in the name of better production values but it appears that the concept part, which emanates from the client's finger being in the pie in almost all cases, is also being sacrificed at the altar of creativity or otherwise.

Of late, a number of telecom TVCs have hit the TV screens that shouldn't have been there in the first place. Be it Telenor's 'Sachi Yaari, Sab Pe Bhari' to Ufone's 'Tees Paisa', it is obvious that there is some 'creative' interest somewhere that is making all efforts to shove a certain kind of thinking down the consumer's throat. It is strange though that while an advertising concept usually needs to cross many stumbling blocks of approval, from synopsis to storyboard to the actual shoot, the strange ideas referred to here, do get to be executed - and aired. And while some come in isolation and are repeated to the point of sickness, others come in a series and the poor TV viewer is subjected to all kinds of strange and 'tasteless' executions that drive him or her to keep constantly working the remote control in order to avoid all this 'creativity' and focus on the TV programming, which is again another tale of woes.

The 'tasteless' executions are not, of course, restricted to telecom advertising alone and other categories have their fair share supported by huge budget spending. It appears that where advertising spend is bigger, it creates more laxity at the approval end and more people with more strange ideas at the spending level jump into the fray to flex out their ideas in the name of creating TV campaigns. It is perhaps for this reason that the traditional ad agency-client relationship is gradually losing ground and the new generation of clients, since they have their fingers on the purse strings, are finding a louder voice in deciding what will go in the commercials and how they will execute it.

It is also regrettable that previously, while a lot of mature thinking went into TV commercial-making, both by the client as well as the ad agency, the new equation is between young brand teams with huge execution and airing budgets at their disposal and young film-makers who are equipped with new film-making techniques and modern equipment and lights and are out to make a fast buck from every commercial they shoot. Perhaps another reason could be that since the really good TV commercial producers have rendered themselves out-of-range of realistic production budgets, advertisers are roping in the less expensive producers to render their commercials. In the bargain, while clients may be saving money, they are certainly losing out on creativity and doing a disservice to a more sensible and more credible treatment of concepts.

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Date:Jan 31, 2014
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