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PAKISTANI ADVERTISING NEEDS TO UP ITS GAME.

Byline: SYEDA AREEBA RASHEED

Pakistan held AdAsia 2019, at the Alhamra Arts Council in Lahore from December 3 to 5. This is Asia's largest and most prestigious biannual advertising event. The Lahore event was held with great gusto and enthusiasm. The three-day event was based on the theme 'Celebrasian: Celebration of Advertising and Creativity in Asia' and was jointly organised by the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA) and the Pakistan Advertisers Association (PAA). Hundreds of delegates from all over the world and from within Pakistan attended AdAsia 2019. It was after 30 years that AdAsia was taking place in Pakistan. It was held for the first time, again in Lahore, in 1989.

The opening ceremony of AdAsia 2019 was held at the historic Hazuri Bagh in Lahore's Walled City with the stunning Lahore Fort in the background. The event was hosted by Mikaail Zulfiqar and Naveen Waqar.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was to inaugurate the event but due to his unavailability, Sarmad Ali, the Chairman of AdAsia 2019, did the honours, welcoming delegates and speakers by saying 'Jee Ayan Noo' which means 'We welcome you with all our hearts'.

Javed Jabbar, Chairman AdAsia 1989, and Raymond So, Chairman AFAA, delivered the welcome address. Several awards were announced by the AAFA. These included the Asia Leadership Award which was presented to the founder and chairman of EBM, Khawar Butt. His daughter, Dr Zeelaf Munir, who is also the CEO of the company, received the award on his behalf and also unveiled the new logo of EBM. Javed Jabbar was admitted into the AdAsia Hall of Fame and Sarmad Ali and Jonathan Chen received the Merit Award while Tariq Rashid was conferred the Merit of Service Award.

There was an engaging conversation between Richard Quest, CNN anchor and reporter and Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman S4 Capital Limited, after which Ali Rez, Regional Executive Creative Director, Impact BBDO, ME & Pakistan, talked about how advertising can change the world. He mentioned Ariel's #DadsShareTheLoadToo that affected societal change and also increased sales. Yasuharu Sasaki, Executive Creative Director, Dentsu, was of the view that society could be enhanced through digital creativity.

Richard Quest later presented an interactive session on leadership and why businesses need to stick to their core values. The first day concluded with Fawad Khan, Pakistani TV and film actor and Atiqa Odho, Chairperson and Founder, Focus PK, speaking about the pros and cons of being a celebrity and how some the characters that they have portrayed have left an impact on their lives.

On the second day, Guan Hin Tay, Creative Change Catalyst at the APAC Global Advisory, captured the audience's attention with his 'Imperfect Beauty'. Tay said nobody in this world is perfect and being imperfect is the new perfect. He showed campaigns like #nowyouchoose by Pepsi and Burger King where such imperfect people were given importance though they were rejected by McDonald's because they did not like the way they look. The session was followed by the former commercial director and head of marketing and digital media, Manchester United, Vange Kourentis, who made a presentation on 'Building a Global Cult Brand over Generations'. Everyone raised their hands when asked whether they had heard about Manchester United, proving brand recognition. Kourentis narrated how his team made Manchester United (football team) a universal brand.

Shahzad Nawaz and Faraz Maqsood Hamidi explained how their individual working styles helped them carve a niche in Pakistan's advertising sector. Their conversation began with the Markhor, an animal that Hamidi had used as part of PIA's branding. Nawaz had done the same when creating communication for the ISPR.

Women-centric sessions took centre-stage, first with Samina Baig, the first and only Pakistani high-altitude mountaineer, who was praised with a standing ovation by delegates and then with a session on 'Women and Power' moderated by Atifa Silk, Editor Campaign Asia. The session had Dr. Zeelaf Munir, Managing Director & CEO, EBM, Frieha Altaf, CEO, Catwalk Event Management & Productions, Seema Jaffer, CEO, Bond Advertising and Nabila, stylist and entrepreneur, as panellists. The segment focused on leadership among women in Pakistan and the issues they face in male-dominated sectors.

On the last day, Randi Zuckerberg, the CEO of Zuckerberg Media, shared her experiences on the frontlines of social media. Her tenure at Facebook included the launch of Facebook Live after which she set up the Zuckerberg Institute for budding entrepreneurs. Tom Goodwin, Head of Innovation at Zenith Media, discussed the new rules of business in the post-digital age. For him, technology is not sufficiently customized as a medium as far as advertising and marketing are concerned. He even showed clips of how TVCs are still uploaded on YouTube without further modification.

The event continued with a panel discussion on Pakistani art featuring Salima Hashmi, Rashid Rana and Adeela Suleman. They lauded the female artists for their courage and talked about Karachi during Zia's regime. Wasim Khan, MBE then Managing Director of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), talked about the growth of PSL as a Pakistani brand that has gained worldwide recognition.

The AdAsia event concluded with presentations for AdAsia 2021 by the Macau team and for AdAsia 2023 with an inspiring presentation by Kim Nackhoi, Chairman Korea Federation of Advertising Associations (KFAAI).

The three-day AdAsia 2019 concluded with a closing speech by Dr Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan. Dr Alvi highlighted the importance of marketing in business and stressed upon the need to modify marketing strategies to achieve a realistic approach to selling products. He was of the view that Pakistan has been wrongly portrayed in the past and now, with guests like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate Middleton and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visiting Pakistan, the perception might change. He termed Pakistan as an emerging market and a safe destination for investors.

Let's see how Pakistani advertising will take advantage of this opportunity. It is certain that it will have to up its performance by many notches.

The concluding session of AdAsia 2019 was also addressed by Sarmad Ali, Javed Jabbar and others.
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Author:SYEDA AREEBA RASHEED
Publication:South Asia
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 31, 2020
Words:1099
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