Thanks for nothing Mathira and Josh Condoms

Published: July 24, 2013

Through this ad, Josh Condoms has damaged chances of future advertisements of contraception over the media.

It is estimated that by the year 2050, our population will be 300 million strong. Every day, a whopping 14,000 babies are born. That is 14,000 more mouths to feed, 14,000 more children to educate and 14,000 children that need to be provided for. An average woman in Pakistan has 5 to 6 babies during her lifetime.

It is without a doubt that we need more awareness and easier access to contraceptives.

So for me, when an advertisement that delivers a message relating to birth control airs on TV, it is an occasion of celebration; a development that should be praiseworthy. That was, of course, till I saw Josh Condoms and Mathira’s take on what an ad selling condoms should look like.

Mathira’s latest show stopping performance in a ‘Josh Condom’ ad has made people blush in embarrassment and gawk at the sheer obnoxiousness of the gross, innuendo-laden and completely inappropriate approach to a very important subject.

Playing the part of a trophy wife, Mathira makes the entire neighbourhood jealous as they wonder how a man, evidently her inferior in looks, appeal and charm could secure the love of this supermodel.

The advert continues with coy looks, loaded with explicit meaning and right at the end of the 50-second clip, the lucky husband reveals his secret: Josh Condoms – that is how he managed to secure and ‘tame’ this wife that everybody is so envious of.

I don’t know about you, but the insinuation is crystal clear to me; if you are good in bed using Josh Condoms, any woman can be yours. By using this condom, your wife, will lovingly see you off to work; she will make you ‘thanda’, and will be the perfect companion for you.

The message is that if you use this condom, you can secure a perfect woman — or any woman.

I have seen many TV shows and adverts that reduce women through various means, be it money, good looks, status and so on. However, this advertisement has to be the most lewd description of how one can secure a woman’s affection through sex.

Maybe Mathira thought she was doing a great service to women by perhaps preventing them from enduring the pain and suffering of multiple births, but I wonder if she realises that by agreeing to be part of this ad, she has thrown women a hundred steps back. She has made us look like mere objects that can be controlled by sex. She has, in just 50 seconds, reduced a lifetime of work done by remarkable women like Fouzia Syed and Sharmeen Obaid to empower women, to make them more than just their sex.

Can a woman have more facets to her personality or must she always be attracted to just one thing? A woman is smart enough to consider other things before she ties the knot.

The last straw in this advertisement is that five seconds at the end which proclaims that the condom is now available in strawberry flavour too.

This disgustingly tasteless addition to the ad has no place in a conservative society like our own. The topic of family planning and sex education is taboo in Pakistan and this was a very important subject matter that needed to be handled with delicacy.

This ad just made it dirty.

Josh Condoms, please take a bow – through your low-brow, disrespectful approach to marketing birth control, you have likely permanently damaged what little chance other people had to educate people about family planning through the media.

While I am all for awareness about why contraception is important, this advertisement is by no means the way to do it. This is why when Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) announced that is has banned the ad, I reluctantly nodded my head in approval – not something you see me do often with regards to PEMRA’s policies.

I agree with the statement that the advertisement was generally “perceived as indecent, immoral and in sheer disregard to our socio-cultural and religious values.”

An advertisement about sex need not sell a woman as an object.

It can be tasteful, educational and can deliver the message in a way that works in a conservative, fiercely patriarchal society where education and awareness about sex is abysmal.

Mathira, maybe it is time to think about Pakistan and not just yourself. Your decision to take part in this farce has done us a grave disservice.

Are you for or against Pemra's decision to ban the Josh Condoms ad?

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Read more by Zahra here or follow her on Twitter @ZahraPeer

Zahra Peer Mohammed

Zahra Peer Mohammed

Former Blogs Desk Head and Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune. She is a business graduate from the Queen's School of Business who tweets @ZahraPeer ( She blogs at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shoaib

    I think this article has done a great disservice to the women of this country. I would like to remind you that Mathira is an actress playing a role in a TV commercial. She had nothing to do with the scripting or direction of this ad so why then is she being portrayed as the brains behind the whole thing. More importantly why aren’t we writing articles condemning every actress who has ever played the role of a women who’s values we do not approve of?

    It seems hypocritical to write about supporting the rights of women and then criticizing them for asserting those very rights. To me this article basically says – Women should have the freedom to do what they want as long as they don’t do anything we disapprove of.


  • unbelievable

    Bad taste is something your going to find everywhere on the planet – the issue is whether you think the govt should be responsible for regulating it. In most of the World the govt focuses on the basics – clean water, roads, food safety etc and leaves the “bad taste” stuff to the consumers who always have the option of changing the channel or calling the TV network to complain.Recommend

  • no12

    I do not understand why is sexuality a big issue in Pakistan. Our government and PTA, PEMRA etc are all trying hard to inform every Pakistani of their opinion about what is moral, and immoral, decent and indecent, right and wrong, without really understanding the fact it is suffocating and as well as oppressive. Pakistan is next Saudi Arab for sure!!Recommend

  • Kashif Ajmal Malik

    Strawberry and what?
    Regardless of anything, do you really think I have no shame and can watch all this freaky advertisement at TV with my parents, sisters and wife? Where are you taking my country to?

  • Think

    When talking about the pros and cons of an ad, one has to take the target audience into consideration. While I do not condone the objectification of women, this ad was obviously intended to encourage men to use contraception; young men in particular. In a country where many men consider the use of contraceptives to be taboo and women have to bear the consequences of inadequate family planning, it’s pointless to argue about the way messages are being delivered while ignoring the greater good. A racy, attention grabbing ad which gives young Pakistani men the opinion that being responsible and using condoms will help them marry attractive women might be exactly what we need. Sometimes a little incentive is necessary to bring about positive social change. If we want to overcome our impending population crisis we need to promote the idea that “contraception is good” to different segments of the population in ways that are appealing to them. To educated individuals such as the author, the strategy might emphasize the practical benefits of family planning. To less educated young men, more (to borrow the authors words) “low-brow” methods of advertising will resonate a lot more.Recommend

  • Insaan

    What is nextRecommend

  • Sami

    @Bina Khan:

    I am not against Birth Control stuff and policy but the message should be in appropriate way and Yes I don’t know about the security conditions of the country because I live abroad but I am sure such stupid ad will sure increase Woman and girl Rape by using JOSH stuff. Recommend

  • Sane

    There are many more subjects deserve to be written on. What is the significance of this blog post rather the subject itself? This blog post itself is obscene and vulgar.Recommend

  • maheen usmani

    While the Mathira Josh condom ad was undoubtedly cringe worthy on many levels, was there really any need for dormant PEMRA to ban it? Why not take it as comic relief for these stressful times? Sadly women are often each other’s worst enemies so we have blogs by intelligent, independent women lambasting Mathira, and tweets crucifying her for having a “bad reputation”.
    To all those emancipated women venting against Mathira for using sex (gasp!!) to sell condoms, may I remind you that women have been objectified as sex objects for products ranging from fridges, mobiles, washing machines on Pakistani channels 24/7. Why then are people getting antsy over a condom ad which dares to venture beyond the hackneyed concept of “Do bacchay hi acchay.” Is it because it’s implied that the husband uses sex to tame Mathira and that both enjoy it? As if sex has not been used since time immemorial to get those diamonds, that car, that bank balance, that status, that business deal, that prime time slot. Men and women have both used sex at times to get what they desire in the Land of the Pure. So who are we kidding here? Get real, Pakistan.
    · Recommend

  • bis

    There are loads of obnoxious advertisements and shows on television that are made in bad taste and loaded with innuendo. If you don’t like them, you don’t watch them, simple! its a personal choice.
    An advertisement is just a means to the end; the end in this case being enhanced use of contraception and that seems like a good enough end to me.

    Typical moral policing on the part of PEMRA and the blogger.Recommend

  • np

    @Sami: Huh? Usage of condom increases rape? That is a new oneRecommend

  • Kashif Ajmal Malik

    @Insaan: Bet its Sex Education nextRecommend

  • SanamT

    It’s amazing that after posting this disgusting attack on a women brave enough to appear in a condom ad you are extrapolating ‘values’. Mysoginist and revolting article.Recommend

  • SanamT

    I am a woman and I feel degraded abused and violated BY THIS ARTICLE. how dare you presume to speak for us and how dare you imply that enjoying safe sex is in any way degrading for women. Recommend

  • Bilal Abbas

    The merits or demerits of the article aside, I don’t think it is fair for the head of the blogs section to be writing blogs on the same space. Just noticed it! How can you guarantee fairness to other writers if you’re competing with them for the top spot?Recommend

  • sajid

    As far as the Mathira is concern we all know what she is doing in media for surviving in the media what kind of dress she wear where is the PEMRA after banned the add why we are seeing this type adds we should condemned this type of double standard policy on the one hand you are announcing to banned the add and on the other hand it has been aired on the big channels i have no words about it.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Fahad Naeem:
    Um, no….just no. Your statement makes no sense. Granted the ad is ridiculous and in poor taste but blaming “liberal fanatics” for wanting to spread sex in the country is even more so. Liberal “fanatics” would prefer to educate people and spread AWARENESS of things. For the record, most liberal “fanatics” I know think the ad itself is stupid. Worth banning? Maybe not. Recommend

  • Sher Afghan

    I think the ad rightfully targeted the majority population of Pakistan and have the potential of encouraging illiterate population to use condom. So I don’t see any negative impact of such an advert and what ad depicts is also natural phenomena. We somehow have the habit of criticizing everything! Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    there is nothing wrong with the ad.Recommend

  • Adil

    the concept and script failed to deliver the purpose and usage of the productRecommend

  • Waqar Hasan

    To The Writer,

    Well understood the criticism brought on it, also the peI well understood the perspective from where the criticism has been brought on the ad, but part I could not see was the connection. It seemed like you responded to something which was not there at first place.
    I could not see in the ad any intent to promote and educate the concept of contraception, so why blame them for distorting the so called sacred message of family planning and what not. The message in the ad, simply targeted males who wish to satisfy their wives and hence have a happy married life, was loud and clear that this product (condom) can help them achieve their desire. But yes in our society, comprised of eastern and religious norms, speaking publicly about such stuff is considered obscene.
    The hue and cry over the status of women being reduced by this ad is a bit overblown. In one’s married life lot of things are to be taken into account between man and wife for relationship to be considered as a good one but the immense importance of sex cannot be replaced or lowered by any other variable. This is what makes the couple interdependent and interdependencies are at the core of the design of this world. I cannot emphasize more on this. I bet you give woman everything but not sex she would leave you or at least your life would not be a happier one. It is like this BY DESIGN.
    Yes, the PEMRA did the right thing by banning this ad but please don’t label it as an attempt to debase women’s status. Women have this need and men have to satisfy it, the product just offered help. I wonder if people want condoms to exist why they do not let companies which make condoms do simple marketing for their sustenance.
    One should be punished only for the crimes he committed, so the response to the ad was quite out of place.
    rspective takenRecommend

  • Fatima Khan

    In terms of doing a condom ad, I don’t think that in itself is a bad idea. In fact I think it’s a good health issue to raise with regards to population control and sexually transmitted diseases. I think the main problem is the trashiness and tackiness of the advertisement, some of the language used was just 3rd rate. One of the other main problems is Mathira herself. She has no discernible talent and is known for her sleazy, trashy antics. For an effective ad, it should have been less trashy and more sophisticated with another actress. Mathira’s fame is akin to someone like Paris Hilton, no talent, and the only way she can gain attention is through sleaze. Recommend

  • Jumping out of the window

    and I just read this woman is Head of ET blogs! Recommend

  • Danish Xuberi

    has there ever been any objection about Saathi or Humdam ads, I cannot recall, they were simple and delivered the message of birth spacing in a no nonsense manner. And the Green Star, it offered a whole contraceptive range from injections to pills and rings and condoms. The Green Star had such strong presence on PTV that my niece was among many children who painted a star green instead of yellow in the KG class. And the Chaabi (key) campaign, the Chaabi ka Teeka and education casets for newly weds and young mothers they all went on air without raising an eyebrow except in the ULTRA ORTHODOX, but this josh thing was provocative and naturally drew public ire, even from condom users. Recommend

  • dashingdevil7639

    cmnts are useless take some action against mathiraRecommend

  • porntstar

    Be it a man or women, for them the biological needs come before anything.Recommend

  • farida

    Yes i am aganist showing Condom packets on the TV screen of a country where people dont have a full developed mind. Even in UK where people have freedom of speech and sex dont show condoms on the silver screen.
    pakistan can show ads like it used to show. LARKA HO YA LARKI, BACHAY DOU HI ACHCHAY. Recommend

  • Asma

    I extremely agree with author. btw Pakistan is not the first country to put a ban on a vulgar condom ad, even developed countries do that. (search on youtube). Wannabes should stop over reacting!
    Children also watch TV. Perverts in this forum enjoy watching such ads, but for children they are disturbing. I’m 20 years old, not a virgin, but still feel it is very annoying to watch such ads on TV when youre sitting in the lounge with your family.
    Lastly, it is GreenStar’s job to educate people, and gladly they are doing it right. This ad was just to promote a particular brand, Josh condoms, not educate people about contraception. Thank you PEMRA for banning this filth.Recommend

  • Danish Xuberi

    @Kashif Ajmal Malik:
    try explaining pollination of seed to a third grader from school’s Science text book and the sex education class is complete Recommend

  • Hardliner

    Frankly, I never noted the “strawberry flavor” thing in the ad…….. thanks to you, now I do!Recommend

  • muqeet masood

    As long as how and what this ad is giving the message , as a marketing student I can say that the advertisement has send the message to the masses despite its been blocked by PEMRA… The publicity of this ad through Social media and in many discussion in differnt platforms JOSH has positioned the brand in the mind… Positively or negatively thats another part. The part of being remember the ad by the consumer is the main objective of the AD. so THANXXXXXXXXX to all socail sites user and blogggers of giving the fame to the so called brand Recommend

  • Kashif Ajmal Malik

    @maheen usmani:
    Are you the same Maheen Usmani the Journalist ans as on youtube? Recommend

  • Insaan

    @farida: Yes i am aganist showing Condom packets on the TV screen of a country where people dont have a full developed mind. Even in UK where people have freedom of speech and sex dont show condoms on the silver screen.

    In UK even 12 years old know about SEX and condoms.
    Condom packets on TV screen are meant for people who have not a fully developed mind and don’t know how to prevent unwanted pregnancy.Recommend

  • soraya

    I understand where you are coming from,but seriously? Mathira is simply the actor in this particular ad. She is an actress and it is up to her to accept any role that comes her way. It is not her duty to think of Pakistan,the world and womankind before making any career decisions. I agree with your sentiments but they your criticism and anger are misplaced.Recommend

  • Eman Mehmood

    Very Well WrittenRecommend

  • HF

    I liked the fact that message was picked up and discussed properly. But.
    in the society if we say family planning its like weak faith that person dont truth on Allah who give children cant feed them !!!! Within someone will kick you out of circle of islam and call you kafir or munafiq…

    So for all clergy and non-clergy men, this message is the best to put the jini in a bottle do what ever it takes.Recommend

  • Pakistani Ostrich

    This blog is what one calls ‘much adieu about nothing’. I would like to joshfully request the blogger to spare us from such lame blogs in the future.Recommend

  • Raisani

    @Biig Dood:
    “All I could make out from this ad is that some ugly men could end up getting beautiful women”. but dude you missed the main magical thing, all the credit goes to Josh Condom :). Recommend

  • Misogynist Right Promoter

    Well I agree this isn’t exactly what Pakistan needs but don’t you think that you’re being a tad bit too feminist ?Recommend