By: Sadia Rashid
During the course of everyday commuting from home to work I’ve to travel the entire length of Shahra-e-Faisal. Since this is the busiest road of Karachi it is also the one targeted by every company for putting up their latest marketing communications (read ‘Billboards’). Due to a) being a marketing student and b) travelling alone, I generally have no other option but to keep myself entertained by looking outside the car windows. Therefore, due to my amazingly enjoyable ride every day of the week I am extremely fed up of all the various billboards regardless from which category they might belong to.
No doubt there are a few brands which are ever innovative and interesting enough to be remembered. Nevertheless, my aim is to forget atleast 99% of the advertisements that I regretfully saw. Let’s take a few current examples;
Head & Shoulders is doing a wonderful job of making people forget about concentrating on the road and instead focus on Kareena. This is due to the “strategic” placements right in front of traffic signals or underneath flyovers right at the eye-level of every person. Not only are these billboards distracting, they are also annoying. My reason for saying this may no doubt be biased since I dislike Kareena but it’s also correct. There is such a thing as being bombarded with the same ad again and again which makes you start hating it. And this is exactly what has occurred with Head & Shoulders!
Lux Body Wash is one more example of an Indian personality who barely resonates with the Pakistani population. I mean seriously how many actual females would go and purchase a Lux Body Wash just by seeing Katrina Kaif in the ads? Furthermore, it is becoming quite hard to differentiate the Lux soap ads with the Lux Body Wash ads and how exactly does putting lights inside the billboards make a person want to go buy them?
Slice mango juice yet again features Katrina with a dramatic close up of her face and hand with a dark background. The entire ad is made to entice and insinuate but looks kind of demented as if Katrina’s head is just floating around. Plus there is simply too much Katrina and with her bland looks it’s hard to differentiate just which brand is she endorsing. After a while all the ads just kind of get mixed up in your head since there are soooo many of them!
Then there are the many nameless, faceless ads which make you wonder what exactly is the purpose of putting up a picture of the product with its’ name and tagline. I mean what was the company thinking? The only reason I remember these ads is because I cross them everyday twice a day. Yet I don’t feel like actually going and buying the latest Zeera biscuits or those Yummy jelly beans? Or those Ulker slice and pound cakes (what is the difference actually?).
However, thankfully there are a few brands which actually do stand out and make an impact. The Qubee billboards showcasing their latest offerings stand out because they show ordinary everyday people and with them we can actually associate! Celebrity endorsements do work and help consumers make associations with the brands but the actually celeb being used matters the most. For a typical Pakistani Shahid Afridi would have more value than Shahid Kapoor or Shahrukh Khan.
For this reason I personally feel that the Clear Shampoo billboards featuring Aisam-ul-Haq are refreshing. Not only do they break through the clutter of typical Bollywood stars and ordinary unknown people but make a Pakistani feel good about themselves.
Nandos as usual is just marvelous with their witty lines and communications. They make a point, stand out and are actually remembered by the end of the day. Currently they are celebrating their 10th birthday and have their ads placed on streetlights. Their branches also have ads on special boards on the outside and for now are full of praises for their own wittiness and I say they totally should be!
But to tell you the truth, not once during any typical day do I actually feel like going and purchasing the various brands so proudly displayed throughout the city. Never have any of these billboards made me even consider trying that brand not even something as basic as an ice cream, case in point, the news Walls Fruttare or the Badami or Dasher by Omore.
We have learned that marketing communications success is judged by the ROI. If we take the cost of one billboard on the main road of Karachi and multiply that by the several of the same brand lining the entire city imagine the final cost! The best thing about billboards for brand/marketing managers or advertising agencies is that there is no method for measuring the ROI for them. No statistical or analytical data which provides the feasibility or the effectiveness of these ads. No wonder they are used so much in Pakistan….