Advertising: Tips for making Pakistani television commercials

If you plan on pursuing a career in advertising in the country, there are a few golden tips none of the pros are going to teach you. As an expert in couchpotatership, I have spent quite some time in front of the telly and have been generous enough to list down these tips. They mainly apply to television commercials, however, you are free to use them anywhere.

I wish you a fruitful career in the world of advertising. You’re welcome.

1. Go to ridiculous lengths

So you say you’re really creative and you probably have some fresh concepts for your ads, but they are deemed mediocre. Why?

Shock factor.

Go Ripley’s Believe It Or Not on this shit. Do something you should not do. No one should. Ever. Shock your viewer.

Unfortunately, since you cannot fall at the feet of every potential consumer and beg them to buy your wares, show people what lengths you are willing to go to just to have them purchase your product – in your TVC.

You can learn a thing or two from Harpic ads.

Nothing says “HEY LOOK AT ME LOOK LOOK MOM BUY THIS HEY HEY LOOK BUY THIS” like rubbing your hand on the inside of a toilet bowl and making a ‘squeaky clean’ sound.

“Hey! It was coated in remnants of ancient faeces and urine two seconds ago! Well whaddya know, just give me some fish and chips so I can eat them right off this bowl because it’s just that clean! I just finished fisting it!”

I won’t add a screenshot but you know well and good what I’m talking about.

If you are super passionate about your work, have your model lick her fingers afterwards as it will give your potential customer that WTF-my-dinner-is-ruined senti-punch you have always dreamed of.

What would make a better example to follow than the series of Harpic ads featuring Pakistani actor, morning show host, certified shithole archaeologist and expert turd-whisperer Faisal Qureshi.

This is the kind of guy you want to hire. His unnerving enthusiasm for toilet activism is only matched by the stupidity of women who open doors for a stranger in a blue hat.

He can make this simple-minded woman do anything and he knows it.

The Indian variant of this commercial features actor Hussain.

Rare things are as eye-opening as comparing one’s ability to touch their nose with their tongue to getting Harpic to reach the shittiest spots in your toilet bowl. Now would be a nice time to take notes.

2. The Way of the Sloppy

Say you are advertising for chocolate. Do you have any ideas? How about a nice glistening bar of chocolate — smooth blocks of dark chocolatey goodness being slowly unwrapped. Maybe a gorgeous model biting into the bar sensually? Or one of those shaadi-mahoorat based ads? Or, hey, what about one person gifting another a bar of chocolate to make their day?

Sounds fresh? You fail.

Have you not learned a thing from India? Where is the dirtysexymacarena factor? No one wants to see a solid bar of chocolate anymore, grandpa, get out of the 50s. That stuff is obsolete.

If, god forbid, you are advertising for chocolate — and I would like to thank Indians for introducing this idea — make sure the models in the TVC eat chocolate as sloppily as physically possible. It is best to melt a pound of chocolate in the microwave and slap your model’s face right into it. That’s what I want to see.

Watch and learn.

This works for ketchup ads as well, where it is a must to smear the sauce on the entire lower half of at least one child’s face to make a great impression.

If hiring unbearably ill-mannered eaters does not drive the point home, I don’t know what will. Luckily, the geniuses at Cadbury have given us some impressive fresh ideas with the new Bubbly commercial, where everything — from chocolate to bookshelves to laptops — is bubbling like festering skin… Mmmm irresistible! I’m so glad this came out of Pakistan!

3. Criteria for casting children

Need I even explain? Kids are idiots, that’s what makes them so great. Everyone loves little idiots.

If you are casting children in your commercial, keep in mind the following points:

a) They should either be unsurpassably stupid, or better yet, know how to fake looking dumb impeccably.

b) The best combination is when a child looks like a taxpaying 30-year-old little person, but acts like he still calls water “mumum“. Here’s a good example of the kind of look you want to go for.

That face… Don’t you want to send this boy to a boarding school in Pondicherry immediately? I know I do.

c) At age six, the perfect TVC child should not be aware of the difference between his flesh-&-bone body and a big plastic-metal laundry-doing device. HOWEVER — and this is important — he should know the mechanism washing machines use to spin clothes inside and that clothes need to be soaked first.

That’s the little guy you want to pay for being an insufferable moron while selling your product. An Indian ad, which I’ve been seeing on Pakistani channels a lot lately, taught me this. It works. 

4. Detergent:

Only women clean. End of discussion.

My brother lived alone for a few years. Do you think he used washing powder? LOL, no. Magical blue fairies descend from the sky in the wee hours of the night and do men’s laundry. They also bathe them sometimes.

Why do you marry? Laundry wife.
Why does your mum want a bahu? Laundry bahu.
What keeps your izzat alive in the village? Well done laundry wife.
What is stopping you from topping exams in school? Dirty uniform – bad laundry mum.
Why do you suck on sports day? You guessed it — your good-for-nothing mum who can’t do the laundry.

God forbid do we ever want to introduce the idea of men doing the laundry! Steer absolutely clear of this satanic notion. Only feature women doing any work in your detergent ads.

5. Biscuits, crisps and other eatables:

Keyword: foodgasm

Unless you are able to bring the hidden Shahida Mini out of your model at the bite of a cookie, you are useless. Channel something PEMRA would think twice before running. Sex sells but this-cookie-tastes-better-than-sex sells better.

If you give the consumer this SOOPER SEXY food face:

They will be excited about your product:


Don’t forget to include some song and dance here and there. You can’t depend on concept, you know. Let the thumkas make up for your mediocre chhota kaarkhaana-grade cookies or chips.

6. Telecommunication services:

There are a few ways you can go about with this…

Watch at least ten Bollywood college life films so that you are able to beat the dosti-yaari-love-friendship-dancing-romance concept down to a mush in your commercial. Nothing appeals to young consumers like a bunch of teenagers pulling a Highschool Musical moment randomly.

For older consumers, fit in emotional scenes which you can pick from this nifty list:

– Grandpa reciting the azaan for newborn grandson on the phone
– Daughter’s rukhsati (also a surefire mattress TVC winner)
– Poor village man transferring funds via mobile phone
– Poor village man educating annoying son via mobile internet
– Poor village man phoning rich relative in America
– Filmstar Shan
– (skinny) Faisal Qureshi, Mikaal Zulfikar, Adeel Hashmi trio doing anything.

7. Exploiting religion:

People LOVE religion. It sells like nothing else, look at Amir Liaquat, the merchant of Islam.

This technique works for all products. And if it’s Ramadan, forget about it! You’ll be drowning in so much green, they’ll call you a madni munna. I’ll show you how.

• Ghee/oil: Family dressed in white, having dinner, children in skull caps, grandma has a rosary in hand, mommy wearing a dupatta on her head.
• Telecommunication: Azaan sounds, Ramadan packages (trust me they aren’t doing you a favour), Masjid shots
• Chocolate/candy: Chocolate is the new mithaai – concept can be used on Eid or in Ramadan
• Milk/tea: Great recyclable iftaar scene
• Anything else: Rich clean Muslim helping poor dirty Muslim using <whatever product you’re selling> A real tearjerker.

8. Real Estate:

The goal is to do your absolute worst.

Normally, a newly married couple shifting into a ‘home sweet home’ does the trick. I don’t even think there are more examples. Don’t forget to vibe to a song which should make no more lyrical sense than a frozen aalu samosa. The badly made-up actress should be doing some awkward romantic twirling in her 500-rupee outfit while the husband acts naughty, doing the Shah Rukh Khan brows and pointing into the distance for some reason.

Your song should essentially be based on two words — “ghar” and “sapna”.

You will also need a narrator who has a deep, intense voice and is old as Jesus. He should be able to say the following words impressively:

Lugjree apartmints
VIP area
Bachon ke liye park

8. Beauty products

Hiring already-freaking-gorgeous women is key.

Pretty much all beauty products you will have to sell will be fairness creams.

If your budget allows you to do so, hire a Caucasian model at once. What better way to appeal to brown South Asian women than to use a model from a completely different ethnicity? You may settle for an Asian as well.

I have no idea what I’m doing

An already fair-skinned model is best, because you can just spray on some splotchy tan on her face which looks completely unnatural. Or better yet, put a grey filter on her – save time.

Don’t forget to focus on informing women how their master’s degree, confidence, talent or personality don’t really matter. Men will not look at them and they will never land a good job with dark skin.

It’s the only ‘fair’ thing to do, riiight? #punpunpunpunpun

9. Antiseptic soap:

Sort out your own concepts and ideas but there are three things you absolutely need in your commercial.

Number one, a mother with a sneezing, belly-aching little son.

Number two, a condescending doctor who is actually just regular dude with glasses. He should look something like this.

This man must be conservative and condescending or no one will buy shit. He should be a bully and ask questions like:

“LOL does your kid even bathe?”
“Bro, do you even know what H1N1 is?”
“Oh, what brings you to the clinic again, sick little shit? Bet you’re going to die in like 46 yrs.”
“Oh, a fever? So what’s going to happen to you next? Homosexuality or atheism?”

Number two, you should have this bullshit germ-detecting device which no common physician in Pakistan has, but no one ever will question.

10. Cola/soda:

Cricketers. Period. They’ll buy it.

And we’re done!

Thank you for taking this small course in advertising. Feel free to leave your own advertising tips in the comments section. I wish you an excellent career in putting together overdone scripts and copied ideas for money. Good luck!

Twitter: @SheikhImaan 
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