TV ads: Is all the dancing really selling?

Published: December 28, 2010

Why are so many advertising campaigns resorting to song and dance routines to sell products?

Products in Pakistan have not always been sold by armies of men and women dancing to uncoordinated perfection.

However, recently advertising ‘charts’ have been hit by four choreographed entries: Tarang, Sooper, Warid and Chaika, which are running on all major TV channels night and day.

Does dancing sell?

Does this mean that singing and dance routines are what grip the Pakistani people and make them go buy brands? Or, does this simply mean that this is an idea that can be easily sold to clients by agencies?

Agencies have developed a stereotypical solution for all marketing communication needs and forgotten the essence of their business – to be different and not to do the same old thing.

I can go on dissecting and looking for further reasons for the use of such an advertising approach but the point I want to make here is that the clients and the agencies should think afresh on this issue.

A key point for the fraternity

When we look at Tarang and Sooper, which are both market leaders in their respective categories, we must remember that they did not launch with a song and dance execution.

Tarang, for instance, launched its advertising with the “Yeh koi jor nahi” – a filmi dialougue based on highly a dramatic scene between a hero, heroine and the heroine’s father!

Sooper’s advertising campaign was based on the line, “Yeh to hai he Sooper.” The television commercial was all about a mother and daughter talking over a phone!

Both these brands were initially built on a great advertising idea. However, over time they moved away from that critical success factor and now find solace in only good advertising execution (minus the idea).

Great advertising always is and always will be about a great idea that is executed differently from the same old thing that we are accustomed to seeing all around us.

My advice: Get yourself out of the execution trap and think about things before it’s too late. Or, you can choose to still do the same singing and dancing routines and believe that they are what convince Pakistani people to buy!


Shoaib Qureshy

Chief strategy officer for Bulls-Eye Communications

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

  • Deen Sheikh

    Two Words ‘Advertising Clutter’Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    Let’s pick any ad to respond your generalized article.

    “Yeh koi jor nahi” — Tarang’s first tag line that was used to communicate product to mainly Punjab’s audience, you were right when you said the concept is based on highly dramatic scene between a hero, heroine and the heroine’s father but did you bother to ponder reasons behind this concept?

    “Being Filmy” is exactly the idea behind Tarang ad campaign, they have primarily targeted Punjab’s market which is aspired to the Lollywood, dance and movie culture in general, you being Urbanite prolly have no idea behind the concepts of selling in rural areas but “success” of Tarang in Punjab region has endorsed their research and idea of selling tea in Lollywoodish way leading the agency and the client to continue with the same approach.

    What amaze me are your last few lines where you blamed ad agency for diverting from the idea, FYI the ad agency working for Tarang is strictly following the concept they floated earlier. The very first ad was the initiation of filmy theme and whatever you currently watch is continuation of basic concept. Try to connect the dots.

    My advice: As long as the product is considered ‘success’ by the BRAND and client is satisfied with the campaign we need not to criticize agencies for the sake of criticism ?Recommend

  • BT

    I can’t tell one add from the other, I never even realized what products they were selling.Recommend

  • Fahad

    I think ‘tarang’ is the one that took the dancing to a whole new level, while adverts with choreographed dances existed (mobilink jazz ads for example), they certainly weren’t so elaborate. Tarang started the filmy looking adverts, and now everyones doing it. Its interesting that everyones following tarangs idea because I’ve never seen the product being used. Perhaps its targeted towards and successful with the masses of the country. Regardless, if this cluster of bollywood (lollywood?) styled ads proves one thing its that the ‘creative’ minds at advertising agencies are certainly getting lazier as the budgets expand.Recommend

  • anwar

    main reason for these adds is that indian culture dominating our society because of cable culture.adds like WHISPER & ALWAYS ARE BEING OBSERVED.we are quite reluctant to stop these adds.shmame on us as ISLAMIC NATION.Recommend

  • AHR

    Veru true Shoaib. The dance-routine is getting a bit too much in local advertisement. I seriously cannot distinguihs between any of the ads. Seems like the brand people and agencies have started taking the audiences for granted.Recommend

  • Sarah Haider

    Learn from India. There ads are worth praising. Recommend

  • Khalid Aziz

    Whatever catches a viewer’s eye.Recommend

  • Ahmed Uzair Aziz

    Shoaib, very good observation. I think you have hit a nerve with some Agency elements. Sitting here observing from New Zealand when I watch live stream of television from home, it seems that everything now is sold through a dance routine of 500 people.

    Only dance will not work. Some years back Supreme did the “Apna Pun” with Jawad Ahmed’s song. That was the way to do it. That was true to the Idea.

    The agencies should learn, whatever works for another brand doesn’t mean that it would work for them also. To each his own, so to speak.Recommend

  • parvez

    When I watch these long flashy adds on TV , I think ” This must have cost a bomb” and I link it with the cost of the product being high and that does not go down well with me. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    You are so right.

    Tarang is not popular in your city but it is making great sales for Punjab. Furthermore, Tarang took the whole filmy idea to a new level. Chaika is just trying to ride the wave.

    I have no idea why they are dancing in Sooper, same goes for Warid.Recommend

  • Shah

    I tend to agree with analyses of TanzeelRecommend

  • Marina Khan

    Dancing does sells. It engages your mind, you learn their tune. you sometimes sing unconsciously the song of the ad and dance like that and hence you buy their product to be cool like the ad models.Recommend

  • Ali Aslam

    dancing might sell a product in a specific part of the country where Lollywood is watched keenly but what about the other parts of Pakistan?..Dancing and singing has become a norm for selling a product.I totally agree, that if the tune of a song in an ad is catchy you’ll definitely stick to it and maybe buy the product but then why does everybody follow that same step?..where is the creativity. the only ads with something new and innovative are Ufone ads. Their marketing team is great and they come up with ideas that make you love the brand. the “TERI MEHERBANI” ad by Ufone was loved by a lot of people. They didnot dance in it, but it was a concept of having a clear voice which they elaborated.

    similarly if you watch indian ads, you just want to watch them again and again.they are fun, innovative and creative. If they sing in an ad, there is a reason behind it, you know it makes sense, it fits to sing in the ad..

    ads like sooper and chaika make no sense what so ever .. just today i saw an ad about a service by ZONG,the m9 service. the ad was was simple and catchy with no song.the idea behind it was perfect. such ideas should be encouraged,otherwise like most of us find it, ads will always be annoying .Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman

    Chaika did the pathetic work by copying the predecessors rather than come up with a better idea. Even their copy is so idiotic that I like to change the channel whenever their ad come in. I would perhaps never by chaika. Tarang tried to put some fat girls to add some Punjabi style glamour and they were successful. But this dancing phenomenon would not go a long way. Recommend

  • qasim

    “Kya naach naach kar chai baichna zaroori hai?” :-DRecommend

  • Dr Khalid Bajwa Niazi

    Being a s neurosurgeon and done lot of tests especially on younger people it is safe to say dancing indeed sells. The activity in your medula oblongata is hyperactive when opposite gender body move in rythimic motion coupled with hyper activity in amygadala due to the music.It is an old adage “sex sells”.Recommend

  • Faraz

    i feel awkward watching these types of typical ads including songs and dancing. we should move on !!Recommend

  • Salmaan Nosherwani

    This is quite interesting. Never had this in mind. But now that i think of it, I agree there is so much more to do. Singing and dancing sure is old school stuff but at the same time it creates a talk ability amongst youngsters and gives them a chance to enjoy. I think singing and dancing should not be totally abolished from the advertising world, but new innovative ideas should also come up front whereby people have new experience every time. Recommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    Dancing sells, yes. At least, it stayed in your mind. Guess it’s powerful. Lol.Recommend

  • Haroon Rashid

    A code of conduct for advertising, or regulating the adverts., is timely. Millions of people purchased coupons, pre-paid cards for company’s public listed which offer discount phone calls, swindled millions, deprived the PTCL for millions, and poor Pakistanis abroad some in jails cannot call their families as the card didn’t work. This is in-human. Pre-paid cards for phones, for any incentive promotion scheme on tv., raises billions over night in the hands of the sponsor, organisors. The mobile phone company’s offer promotions, incentive packages, that didn’t work. Recommend

  • Usman Akbar

    Dane, music and humor definitely have attraction but I believe these things are not enough to sell a brand. It needs a good message along with a “BIG IDEA”. These four mentioned ads can have big ideas to sell ads to client but good message is really missing… Recommend

  • Tyrone


    As your company has worked on Tarang I would have thought you would have seen the filmy connection between the brand and the audience? After all what was your hero ki tarang if not playing on the desire of young men to become heroes?

    If that’s not what the purpose was then please clarify.

    I agree that song and dance is becoming a formula but its a formula that isn’t recent, it’s been around for 5 years or so. Can’t remember who started it off prhaps Talkshawk?

    However for a product like a biscuit song and dance is a strategic way to sell than say humor when you want to prompt recall and induce trial. Let’s face it: jingles and dance routines are catchy. Just saw a great ad yesterday, that has retained the same essence for years – Ding Dong.

    People remember the jingle because its attractive. My view is that for products like mobile packages the song and dance is not effective to communicate, similarly the only Ufone ad where I remember the message was the Teri Meherbaani one, the message was clear. Of recent ads all didn’t tickle my fancy or stimulate my brain to remember them.

    Humor too is an art not all can handle same for celebs.

    We in our search for links make assumptions – song and dance is part of our culture so a natural association with the audience right? Maybe.

    Also dancing/singing is hitting at our subconscious and perhaps that’s what is part of the success.

    I loved the previous Sooper ads especially the mom daughter one, the last round that tried humor in different situations was a flop in my view.

    The present ads are even worse. Why waste such a lot of budget?

    We hide bad ideas with song and dance or celebs or even excellent production quality! We’re good at clothing our nakedness in terms of strategic ideas!

    Finally a question I’ve often asked and haven’t got an answer to: does a population that idolizes Star Plus dramas really want good advertising?Recommend

  • Noor-ul-ain Hanif

    I didn’t understand one thing Tarang so called brand. They always comes with hip-hop ads. I remember their very first ad in which Sukhwinder Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan sang together with a dhamakay dar video and now a days another ad is running again sung by Sukhi. Why they spend millions on video and singers? Olpers is also a brand with a sophisticated ad and I wait for olpers new ad specially Ramadan one!!Recommend

  • Shoaib Qureshy

    Hi Tyrone.

    Good observations overall.

    Just to answer your question on Tarang. I am a big fan of brand Tarang as it is one of the few success stories of the last decade. Yes tarang is filmi but there is more in a film than a song n dance. And Tarang launched with a successful filmi scene ad and also did a god Ali Zafar n Reema filmi scene ad as well which were both true to the brand equity of “sahi jor” which is the purpose of all advertising – to build equities. However in the current song and dance number the equity takes a back seat and only finds life in the tag line….

    Similarly the Hero Bannay Ki Tarang reality TV show was all about finding tne “film ka sahi jor” – an all round actor…. not a singer or a dancer… yes it was filmi but as I said that there is more in a film than just song and dance….

    The problem with most agencies is that they are structured and have an auto pilot solution to advertising briefs by writing the song lyrics and that is where the problem starts from……if u have lyrics…then u make a song….then u have to dance to the song…

    Look worldover and even in India….the song dance number ads are not the most creative ones….u have to be original and different…..and think hard…really hard to crack it….but only if you believe in it….

    The choices we make define who we are! Recommend

  • Tyrone

    Hi Shoaib,

    Good response and thanks for responding, I agree on the auto-pilot thing creatives immediately think TVC when they have to come up with a communication campaign and true they’ve already got the actor and director lined up and are picturing themselves in Bangkok for the POP and thrilled at all the shopping they’ll get done!

    We suffer from a malaise all round how to break the routine and stem the root?

    There are still some Indian ads which are if not below our level but same the heavy on celebs ones esp with cricket stars selling everything.

    We need research and rigor but that’s summin we all know.


  • Slick

    @ Shoiab,I agree with U that dancing and singing is not the way to sell ur product, it never was it never will be….but the problem here is mainly the CLIENT…..if the client wants his idea to rotate around a dancing and singing sequence, there is no other choice for the agencies, U being in the business for so long know how it works here, if the clients wants something they better get it or …… Agencies do give clients creative ideas but the last choice lies in the hands of the client here i m criticizing the client because being in the ad industry i know we give ideas that are upto the levels of India if not good but the clients here are not willing to take risk with it, they want to go they typical approach which they think will sell their product a good Production a huge budget and heavy frequency on Media.

    How ever Dancing could work out for some products not all, TARAG made Dancing and singing its own , one can associate the brand with it coz of the target audience they want to hit and they have been successful in generating Sales which is good …..CHAIKA was Copy cat of TARAG going by the theory that Dancing will Sell their product but when Sooper is shown being consumed at a Mehandi function with everyone dancing, its just not right i dont know how they can come up with such a thing, even if the agency had presented the idea as U think they did, my question is again the CLIENT has the final say he could have vetoed it right there but they didn’t which means that they wanted such a thing,and as per our industy rules” Client Khush to Agency Khush”. I used to love Sooper Jingle which was also a copy of Breathless(INDIA) but it was very catchy and grabbed attention.

    With Warid, when i saw Noor as the brand Ambassador, i saw this coming i knew there will be a dancing ad coming soon, it had to be, perhaps she was brought in for that only reason.

    but ya, not everything can be sold on dancing …….this needs to be understood by the CLIENT more so than the Agency.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Late in reading this, but may I ask, why are ads for sanitary napkins unislamic exactly? Is having your period unislamic? It’s a natural thing, and if the ad is not vulgar, it’s simply advertising a product then I don’t see anything dirty in that. It would seem shameful only to those who have a dirty mind to begin with. Recommend