Stories about advertisements

What if there was a blanket ban on advertisements in Pakistan?

Everywhere we turn, all we see is advertising; on the television, the radio, newspapers, magazines and social media. What with all the hoardings everywhere, buildings are no longer recognisable. Motorists are continuously bombarded with blown up images of different products and photoshopped models, trying to get them to pay attention to what they’re selling instead of what is on the road in front of them. And just when we began to think that the giant, teetering, 3D monstrosities on our billboards were the limit, advertisements started to grow, like mushrooms, on green belts, dividers and roundabouts, and hang like bats from ...

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A trip down memory lane with, Morven Gold, Dentonic and Naz Pan Masala

Before Cable TV made it big, there was a time when households in the country only had access to one local channel – that channel being PTV. This changed in 1988 with the launch of PTN (People’s Television Network), later renamed STN. For a decade, PTV and STN ruled the roost. Our local channels, primarily PTV, were host to some of the most iconic advertisements in Pakistan’s history. Below is a take on eight of the most memorable advertisements from that time, taking a trip down memory lane and reminding us all of a happier Pakistan. 8) Shield Toothbrush Most of us would remember this advertisement as one from the 1990s. Surprise! It’s from the 1980s. The ...

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The dark side of fairness products

It starts with a dark-skinned girl (of course painted with black foundation or something). The girl is depressed and feels hopeless because she can’t achieve anything. Why? Because she has a dark complexion. Then, out of nowhere, this extremely beautiful fair-skinned girl shows up and offers her the magic formula that will transform her life. She applies the magic formula and voila! She turns into a beautiful girl with snow white skin and suddenly achieves everything in life; she becomes successful, gets a dream job and boys suddenly seem interested in her too! In a nutshell, the message that you get ...

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Are parents responsible for their children committing suicide?

“Hum maaon ko sub kuch chahiye… sub kuch.” (We mothers need everything… everything). That is how disturbing certain advertisements aired on TV today are. They show a cross-section of mothers whose sense of validation and joy is dependent on their children becoming over-achievers. Most of these advertisements are disguised with a ‘feel good’ message, the underlying message, however, is disturbing and sadly, a reflection of what our society’s parents are unwittingly morphing into – a race of achievement-hungry, hard-task masters who want their children to be their trophy to show off. The models posing as mothers stretch their necks upwards as a mark ...

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Pakistani sports channels and death by advertising

As I write this, Umar Gul has just bowled out a Bangladeshi batsman. Gul screams in celebration, begins to jump with his fists in the air and then there’s Rameez Raja with a cup of tea in his hand. Wait… what? That can’t be right. Sadly, it is. Few things get under my skin as much as excessive advertising during cricket matches. Whether we’re being convinced that a slab of not-so-expensive chocolate will suffice as a midnight anniversary present (take it from me, it doesn’t) or that the amount of egg in a biscuit is reason for six women to put on shiny clothes and ...

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Hijab4Men: Let’s turn the tables and show men how it feels

You’re showing too much hair. You’re wearing a lot of makeup and your tight jeans? Well, you’re ruining the reputation of the hijab. These are just a few examples of the criticism many hijabis face.  Recently there were even adverts all over the Middle East comparing Muslim women to wrapped sweets – a lollipop with a wrapper symbolises perfection, that is, the angelic Muslim maintaining her pardah, while an ‘unwrapped lolly’ attracts flies to the haram enticement of an exposed ‘sweet’. The men behind such adverts will deny that comparing Muslim women to sweets is objectifying us. They will contest that they are merely using the analogy ...

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Dark is beautiful in India but fair is lovely in Pakistan?

Switch on your telly. A tall beautiful girl is running through the field; or a sea of flowers, or walking through a bright mansion. A fashionable gown hugs her slim waist and her hair flows in the air flawlessly. She turns around. Looks at you with all the sexual appeal she can muster and bells tinkle as she speaks the three most important words in the world right now, “Buy these biscuits.” Biscuits can be used interchangeably with an insurance policy, shaving foam, ice cream, juice and even the down payment on a new garden estate near the city. The Pakistani audiences are mesmerised. Or are ...

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PPP’s political campaign: Old footage doesn’t impress me

The pre-election time almost feels like walking through a busy bazaar, with each vendor calling out to grab your attention.  It is just that; candidates too are trying to sell us something. Flyers, banners, billboards and flags of political parties take the city and media by storm. Music is launched and adverts are created, all in hopes of roping in as many supporters as possible. The real question to ask is, will we buy it? Here is my take on the worst political ads that have taken over our television screens this election season: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ad:  “Kal bhi Bhutto zinda ...

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What makes a complete woman?

One of my teenage students stopped me on my way to class, sniffling and holding back the torrent of tears, desperate for help. She said she wished to end her life because, ‘Everyone hates me and makes fun of me because I am ugly and I am not feminine enough’. The girl was a brainy, hardworking young lady; one who would score excellent grades but suffered terrible pressure from peers because she did not dress or wax or style her hair like other girls her age did. I was revolted by our collective inability to accept human beings as they are without ...

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Why the anti-Muslim ads in New York City were not hate speech

Offensive ads have been showing on New York City buses and in subway station.  One reads, “In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Beneath that, in blue, were two Stars of David, and the words, “Support Israel.” Below that, in red text, it read, “Defeat Jihad.“ Surely, this is politically incorrect in a world where human rights discourse has more or less permeated consciousness.  If teachers in colleges made such statements, many would boycott their classes – if employees at the office water cooler called Muslims savages, it’d be the subject of a workplace controversy. Why was the ad ...

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