TV commercials: Inform, remind and persuade!

Published: January 27, 2011

When do people sing and dance while eating biscuits?

While I was watching the news the other night, a newscaster said, “Stay tuned, we’ll be right back after a short commercial break,” making me immediately think, “Oh god! Not again.” The musical rollercoaster of advertisements began – a five minute ride that I seriously did not enjoy.

What I learnt in my O-level commerce class was that there are three categories of advertisements – ‘reminder advertisement’ that reminds consumers of the products available in the market; ‘informative advertisement’ that keeps the consumer informed and ‘persuasive advertisement’ which persuades consumers through various techniques to buy the product. And these apply to advertisements on special offers such as “buy one, get one free”.

But what I fail to understand is how a tea whitener can be sold by overweight Lollywood actresses in fancy lehngas and cholis, and actors dressed in what could give the actresses a run for their money.

Other examples include television commercials for a brand of biscuits, in which a group of people are singing and dancing at a party while eating biscuits. I have never in my life seen people do that!

Another one for a mobile network makes me wonder what connection it has with two ladies elegantly dancing the kathak to a Bollywood song with a parade of coordinated background dancers.

So, when the medley of badly composed and annoying jingles was over, I found it rather disturbing that the tunes were still playing in my head.

This is when I thought of the “5 Ws and 1 H” of journalism. Who, what, where, when, why and how are leading advertisement agencies getting away with this?

Even if they manage to sell their ideas to companies, they are clearly not getting their message across to the masses who fail to understand the connection between the jingles and the product. So through all the singing and dancing, what exactly are they informing, reminding and persuading the consumers to buy?

Maha Mussadaq

Maha Mussadaq

An Islamabad based reporter for the national pages of The Express Tribune.

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

  • Uzma Khan

    duh??? !!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Aisha Khan – Relationship

    Do you any other ideaS?? What you didnt learn in your O levels is that advertisement depends on the product expense. you cannot waste millions on the product of Rs.1. Its not as simple is it is mentioned in books.Recommend

  • wajahat

    Maha, you did excellent job. Keep it up.Recommend

  • SABA

    The short break is annoying but the TV commercials being aired during that time slot do make more sense than you seem to think. The Tea whitener ad – i think is brilliant, because it targets the right people. The bollywood songs again are entertaining. And the fact that you cannot get the jingle out of your head – target achieved! :) Recommend

  • Aiman Mughni

    I agree with Saba.Recommend

  • zahid

    Maha, your point of view is absolutely right.
    i would like add more info regarding adv agencies and tv commercial. Recommend

  • Shahbaz Younis

    Yeah u r right, long commercial break is bit annoying to me, I feel better to tune to another channel of my choiceRecommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    My dear advertising is a far harder job then it seems, lot of strategic marketing communication planning is involved here, and for all you know you might not be in the target market. For example the ad of a mobile operator a 1000 free mins on migrating, might prompt many people to move over, mobile network hopping is very common amongst lower middle class Pakistanis who might be targetted. As far as milk whitener goes, they might be targettig shop owners ans distributors cause that heavy song dance routine can be hward being hummed, and i assure u its selling very well. Your not their target market, doesnt
    Mean millions arent. Recommend

  • Caesar

    Other examples include television
    commercials for a brand of biscuits,
    in which a group of people are singing
    and dancing at a party while eating
    biscuits. I have never in my life seen
    people do that!

    Not to mention the orgasmic biscuit bites from another brand. I’ve never seen anyone near climax on a hammock–but thanks to that cookie…!Recommend

  • Tariq Aziz

    Respected Mahaa,
    It was beyond of my imagination that some one will ever high light in exactly the same you did. Excellent Job. You worthily justified comprehensive commentary above . Explaining more that though yo have taken into consideration the only point of academics that Advertisement theory is absolutely ignored and i believe that Pakistan would be a rare exception in this case.

    In addition to above that the dynamics of TV Commercials in Pakistan have dramatically changed from sober to annoying jingles since the ban on tobacco advertisements. Luckily(electronic media) the vaccume after banning on cigarettes have been filled by cellular companies.
    Currently TV commercials are seductive in nature rather than persuasive advertisements exactly opposite to what our society and culture chemistry is.

    last but not the least that we should also mention the one most nice exception in the row started seeing recently on TV screens

    whoever idea is this … he deserve great applause and appreciation for making this particular advertisement a very rare theme which actually desired among the row …..

    Any ways you will keep highlighting things like will have our moral support.Recommend

  • Tariq Aziz
  • Fatima Rabani

    Love it!<3Recommend

  • C.

    I think mao has written a wonderfull article. It is funny. It is relevant. And it is well-written. We should’nt criticise everything that is written just for the sake of it. This is mao’s opinion and everyone should respect it. I do. So well done mao. im proud of you!!Recommend

  • Sana Shaikh

    Great article Maha! well written and it actually depicts that the Pakistani ad industry is suffering from lack of innovation…it seems that their creative heads are extremely fascinated by singing and dancing which hardly sends the message across. Although capturing consumers’ attention and emerging from the clutter has become an upheaval task, where the consumer is bombarded with zillions of messages during the day through multiple communication mediums but hammering your ad is not the only option. Focused advertising is highly imperative in today’s digital media and brand gurus should adopt integrated strategies which has a strong promotional element. Recommend

  • Noreen Shams

    Fully agree with saba … I would say Maha …. literally that tea whitener ad has done its tremendous job …Advertising is not an easy thing. it needs lots of research before to be proved in some seconds and achieve its target so effectively. .. keeping the target audiences in mind that ad worked simply cool in my way as their targets are local and rural town people not metropolis ,where lollywood still enjoys as great source of entertaining so thats appealing for them …..

    while Biscuits ad cater teens of metro city …music dancing with biscuits not a bad mixture of things either….Recommend

  • umer daraz

    Great work mahaRecommend

  • Hasnat

    I also highly agree with Saba!IThe MNC’s are not fool enough to spend CRORES on the all above mentioned ads!
    Just for the instance of the tea whitner,their target market is the wide audience,the MASSES where Lollywood is still highly popular and trust me the galmour which our filmstars hold cannot even match to the dumb models and least charming Tv actors.Even though the Film Industry is in a bad state,Lollywood stars are the highest paid for the commercials.Take it this way,2010 has been the worst year for lollywood but in the same year,most of the MNC’s took stars from our Film Industry as it gives another appeal to their product-Mass appeal!
    From your article it seems you think that Marketing is a gudde gudia ka khel,to clarify you its not-Get out of your O-Levels!Recommend

  • Hasnat

    And for God’s sake,who in the tea whitner ad do you find Overweight?Duhhhh…..!Recommend

  • Jaded


    I beg to differ. Which MNC’s are you talking about that took stars from our film industry? Most of them seem to be going across the border… Katrina Kaif being the face of a leading soap brand in Pakistan, Katrina and Shilpa selling a shampoo brand in Pakistan, Kareena Kapoor endorsing a lawn brand in Pakistan…and so on. I dont disagree with the fact that lollywood still exercises enough influence over the masses….but putting together song and dance routines with jingles stolen from Indian movies is not intelligent advertising in my opinion. They are shoddy mediocre jobs churned out by brain dead brand managers who dont have a clue as to what marketing is, and who rely heavily on cutbacks given to them by ad agencies. The only brand that has managed to build an identity for itself is a certain telecom company, that has used humour as a platform to differentiate itself from rival brands. I am also extremely disappointed by the World Cup junoon campaign being currently run by a leading beverage company…good concept, that has unfortunately been lost in translation…one has to only check out their website to see what a mediocre job has been done…everything looks fake and orchestrated…which really defeats the purpose of running a cricket junoon campaign…whatever happened to capitalising on real consumer emotions?winning hearts and minds?…If we are so keen to pick up from across the border…we should try drawing inspiration from Indian ads…some of which are truly brilliant, and VERY localised..just in a more intelligent manner, because the brand managers over there atleast have the sense not to think that their target audience is essentially stupid. I absolutely loathe advertising in this country….from its glory days ten years ago and before, we are now being subjected to this mundane useless crap. Recommend

  • Hasnat

    Jaded,I got your point and truly most of it is quite valid actually!
    Firstly,let me name the MNC’s who have taken for Lollywood Stars in 2010!Warid took likes of Reema,Saima,Noor and Filmaker Syed Noor…Tarang took in Saima,Meera,Sahiba,Resham,Sila Hussain,Mommar Rana,Ahsan Khan(though on tv,he is debut Lolly actor)! Shaan himself was taken by Engro Rupaiya Certificate,Brooke Bond Supreme,Tulsi,Royal Fans,Haleeb Milk,Pampers…Meera and Mommar Rana were taken to endorse Kisan Foods..these are all of the MAJOR brands so it somewhat justifies my point…Yes you are right the trend for signing Bollywood celebrities has been quite high but you know the major reason for it?
    For Example take the case of Lux!They signed in Katrina Kaif in India and to reduce costs they thought they will run the same of ads which were made for Indian market in Pakistan!Thus,they saved the costs of hiring a local celebrity and filming a different TVC altogether!
    Taking Indian celebs in local ads trend took a kick start with the release of Awarapan in Pakistan with Emraan Hashmi was signed by Samsung!Than with the regular release of Indian Films in Pakistan,MNC’s thought that Indian stars might have got close with the masses…they did use the stars but they got wrong and we saw a U-Turn in their marketing strategy from 2009 and saw the uprise of local celebs in TVC’s in 2010!
    As for the Cricket Recommend

  • Hasnat

    As for the Cricket World campaign goes on-I 2nd you!Its very very dissapointing!Recommend

  • Interconnect

    Thanks Ms. Maha, for something to enlighten and to ignite. Factual situation there is no code of conduct in the advertising industry. A great scholar honorable Khalid Mirza pioneered with the Competition Commission of Pakistan as he is the one who started it. To formulate a code of conduct for advertising. MNC’s as Nestle, Unilever with their great advocacy for CSR are not aware what the PR agency is driving them for. MilkPak Nestle brand only says standard milk. There was no mention of which Mammal milk is it. As co-ops., milk is a collection agency which gathers milk, process the milk, pack the milk with a brand, label etc., etc. Walls Ice Cream was challenged by a small company from Lahore and Walls realise what they did. Prepaid cards for cell phones, all brands, are sold per day for millions of Rupee per day, by commercials. We saw a scam of CalMate which was a PTA licensed LDI, with listing at Karachi Stock Exchange. They were after bumper savings for calls from your regular phones. They swindled the consumer not only in Pakistan, but abroad. Today no body remembered. Millions of people today have Callmate cards, shares, just good for Panwala. Now the question why NAB has not taken action against such swindlers, and regulate the pre-paid cards which will be many scams for the prepaid industry, backed by advertising. Tea whitener has no calori, and no nutritional value. Why the label says it has zero nutrition and cannot be substitued for milk. Its trend, fashion, and advertising.Recommend

  • Saraah

    Actually those companies have heavy advertising budgets :) On a serious’s mainly about da target market dear..Recommend

  • Rana M Ali

    @SABA: i agree with u,Recommend

  • bilal khan

    it’s mainly about da target market dear..Recommend

  • Muhammad Sanaullah Bhatti

    The airing of television commercials is a business featuring a fine blend of advertisement, acting, production, designing and direction. making the best of available technical facilities, the above-mentioned categories require attention in fair proportion. Every commercial can’t be aired 24/7, as the target audience keeps rotating before the television set.

    The introduction of any new brand by means of advertisement is put under some suspense. As, the newscaster often says, “the details will follow this short commercial break”. Sometimes, 10-15-second ad is transmitted with a proclamation of good news, but for what? It remains mystery until the complete ad is run.Recommend