Brands can save the country

Published: July 17, 2010

Surf Excel emerged as the overall number one brand in Pakistan

In a country of unfulfilled promises where politicians are continuously unable to deliver, I strongly believe that brands do a better job in serving the needs of the people.  We all ‘elect’ brands to help improve our lives every day.  So in a way this means that the entities governing us are not really the people sitting in the constitutional offices in Islamabad, but what is on the retail shelf.  So why not really give them a chance to form a government of sorts and serve our people?

My Big Idea

That’s how the idea for ‘brand elections’ was born – a cross between my love for brands and my love for Pakistan. This was my ‘big idea’ for brands and for Pakistan.  I wanted to see brands occupy a much higher ground, have a far greater purpose and vision of their existence – rather than just have a business agenda.

Brands are like people and are a very important part of the fabric of our society.  So the idea was to help realize that potential and help them to serve consumer’s needs.  After all, as we have seen, in a country like Pakistan, anything is possible!  Who knows… brand custodians could be sitting in Parliament House one day and really serving our people at a higher level.

What are the ‘Brand Elections’?

The Brand Elections were an attempt to create a genuine marketing industry barometer for brands, whereby the best would rise above the rest. I wanted marketers, to step beyond their usual myopic vision of traditional brand management which has restricted them to a category-centric view. I wanted them to take a more holistic and consumer-centric view. The elections are built on authentic research data of the Consumer Multimedia Index (CMi), which is the first of its kind and the largest single-source data in Pakistan with a representative 10,000 person sample across 50 cities covering all SECs of urban Pakistan.

The elections were conducted in over 50 product categories or ‘constituencies’ broadly falling under: Communication, Durables, Financial, Drinks, Food, Household Care, Personal Care and Transportation. A ranking mechanism was developed to ascertain winners within each category and across the entire industry.

The results are in!

All in all it was a very closely fought election. There were some predictable winners and some that surprised me, but that goes to prove that marketing at the end of the day is about results. It is product performance that matters most and not big perceptions which are created through communications and media spends.

Back to the ‘big idea’ of these elections which was to bring to the fore a government of brands and to discover who would actually rule our country.

Surf Excel emerged as the overall number one brand in Pakistan and hence we named it worthy of the government at the centre – the prime minister of Pakistan.  Ironically, its slogan daag tau achey hotey hain or ‘stains are good’ rings true here! After all so much dirt has been left behind by its predecessors.

National Foods was voted second overall. It also won the election in Punjab making it ‘Chief Minister of Punjab.’ Interestingly, the current chief minister there is struggling with a ‘sasti roti scheme’ but I have no doubt that if National Foods was given power, the brand would do a much better job on this front too.

Tapal Danedar won the election in Sindh, claiming the Chief Minister’s slot, and sending a signal to all political parties that a tea party is the public’s favorite kind of party!

In both Balochistan and Khyber-Pukhtunkhuwa, Lux was voted most popular brand. The soap also came out overall 3rd in the national election. Once again how ironic, that we have been made to believe that women do not exist in these provinces by the male dominated mentality there. Yet people have voted for a softer femenine touch as the way forward.

Some of the key ‘state ministers’ that emerged out of the brand elections were Nokia (Minister for Communications), Super Asia (Minister for Labor and Manpower), Pepsi (Minister for Youth Affairs), Dispirin (Minister for Health), Peek Freans Sooper (Minster for Food), Mortein (Minister for Interior), Fair & Lovely (Minister for Women Development) and Dawlance (Minister for Industries).

What an interesting government of brands has emerged!  When I look at the election results I have no doubt that these brands if given a chance would do a much better job than our politicians and can be the saviors of Pakistan.


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.