Stories about business

TV ads: Is all the dancing really selling?

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 ...

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Why job creation alone isn’t going to save Pakistan

Pakistan is a land of opportunity, but also has many needs.  It is critical to create jobs in this country, but it would be an error to believe that jobs alone will solve the issue of poverty. An article from Business Week titled, “A silver lining in Pakistan’s floods” states that “this natural disaster may have given the country an opportunity to tackle a recurring point of contention in Pakistan—feudalism.” The author states that aid money going to Pakistan should focus on job-creation strategies in addition to housing. She argues that the provision of jobs in relief work and an emphasis on business training ...

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What advertisements are doing to our children

“Bubloo tumhara sabun slow hei kia?” chants an arrogant, animated girl character in a liquid soap ad, teasing the poor boy who has been silly enough to not know that soap bars are useless compared to liquid soap. Such is the shallowness being imparted on  children during their formative years through advertising. They develop a narcissistic attitude towards what they see as  “me and my things.” As ad filmmakers are formulating the most effective ways of enticing consumers to buy their products, they have found children are good targets. Younger minds are easy to manipulate and are seen as long-term potential buyers. ...

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Why do you wake up in the morning?

In the 70s, there lived in a make shift two bedroom apartment in Mumbai, a lower-middle class family who did small-time trading with Arab merchants for a living. Today, that family owns not one, but two of the biggest private sector conglomerates in the world. Today, two brothers from that family control the biggest fortunes in the world. The elder of the Ambanis, a fiercely competitive Indian called Mukesh, is worth an astonishing $29 billion. Here’s my question: why does the 53-year-old magnate still go to work? According to the regional averages, he has about 10 years to live. Even if he stopped ...

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The taboo against ambition

When I was eight-years-old my greatest pleasure in life was spending Saturday afternoons in my father’s office. I would be allowed to sit at his massive oak desk with mountains of papers and neaten up while he looked at files or took phone calls. I was mesmerized by the sheer amount of papers he could read, the fact that he had a computer at his desk and a secretary outside his office. As my mary-janed feet dangled from his swivel chair I would think “Daddy must be smart”. The measures by which my eight-year-old self had determined that my father was successful were ...

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IBA vs LUMS: The ultimate business school face-off

In an age of no scarcity in rivalries, new borders are being drawn. This time students of Pakistan’s two premier business schools are trading jabs at each other, vying for the enviable title of the country’s best educational institution. Competition may not always be healthy but for the neutral observer it is always highly amusing. And so, as an unbiased observer who graced the halls of neither IBA nor LUMS, I would like to present a collection of arguments (based on impeccable logic and verified facts) presented by either side as to why one has always trumped the other. Enter ...

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What you need to know about RGST

The Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) Bill has become the latest ground for political games. While the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) calls it a necessity, almost all parties are in strong opposition. Amidst the political rhetoric, economic experts are siding with the proposed taxation system and the public is flinching at the thought of yet another price hike. What is the RGST? Why is it suddenly so important? Is it really as evil as they say? Here are a few answers. What is the RGST? The RGST is actually plain old Value Added Tax (VAT) with a new name. Since the VAT has ...

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Private airlines: A show of poor customer care

What’s worse than having a flight repeatedly delayed? Is it that you might be delayed by up to twenty four hours? No. Is it the annoyance at the added wait with a dash of inconvenience at having to locate the next possible flight? No, not even close. Perhaps its the irritation you feel at having to hold the line, while the delayed airlines’ operators finish laughing at your misery. No. Close. The worst thing about a delayed flight is customer service. There is nothing worse than when you’ve been clutching the phone receiver to your ear, breathlessly waiting for a voice on the other end to shine a ...

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Pakistan needs to take entrepreneurs seriously

Our governing mentality has mostly been about ‘providing’ jobs and not ‘creating’ them. There is a very big difference between the two approaches that also reflect different governing philosophies. When you hear stories about inefficiency and corruption in government run institutions (like the Pakistan Railways), it is due to the first approach. Governments find it expedient to hand out jobs to people to improve employment figures even when state owned companies do not need any more people. Jobs are also given to party workers to find a way to keep them satisfied. Alas, our political culture is as such! This ...

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China: too large to mess with

After a long time I actually felt my politics and economics degree was worth something when I heard that the infamous Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, actually went to the airport to receive – with full military honours – his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Paris on for a ‘state visit’ on Thursday. Even the controversial Sarkozy had to stoop to saying: “China should not be seen as a risk but an opportunity,” ahead of Hu’s arrival. Of course this angered human rights activists, who accuse the Chinese government for a whole bunch of violations in the ...

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