Below are the steps which are followed by those who have made a difference in this world. Any field, any era, any continent; the steps remain unchanged.

  1. Ask yourself, do I give a damn about anything?
  2. If the answer is yes, then proceed to step 3
  3. Observe constantly, see what’s there and what’s not there.
  4. Ask questions; ask the right questions. If no answers are given then find your own answers.
  5. Those answers might appear in the shape of ideas (Warning: Please don’t be scared of them).
  6. If you have found the courage to embrace those ideas, then comes the hardest part of making them happen.
  7. Be prepared to face ridicule, rejection and resentment.
  8. Ignore what happened to you in step 7 and keep at it.
  9. If you follow all these steps, then one day you will also be celebrating the 15-year anniversary of an idea like Synergyzer.
  10. If this is not for you then go back to step 1.

15 years ago, before Synergyzer’s typeface was set in ink, we followed the same steps and created Pakistan’s first magazine dedicated to advertising and marketing. More than 65 issues later, in a mood to reminisce and relearn the core lessons, we went back to our Editor-in-ChiefMr. Ahmed Kapadia aka AK, who is also the Founder and Managing Director of Synergy Group, to know his views on the performance of the industry.

Question: Where do you think the advertising industry in Pakistan has gone wrong in the last 30 years?

AK: The advertising industry has not evolved with changing times in the last three decades or so. I strongly believe that advertising and communications is a reflection of the nation. Unfortunately, there has not been a lot of positive development in the country, particularly with reference to industrial and economic growth. Hence the advertising industry has also shown a regressive trend and performed below par.

Question: How would you evaluate the role of the Advertising Association of Pakistan in the development and growth of the advertising industry?

AK: The success of any trade body depends on multiple factors. However, one of the core factors is dependent on the financial strength and unity of the Association. It is not any of the associations that make advertising agencies, but it’s the other way around. If the member agencies are willing to commit resources to the PAA and in turn demand development of the advertising agencies to align with systems and structures, then change is possible.

Instead, if our intent is only to have the PAA to show that we have a trade body and do not even understand its role then we can’t expect to get any benefits from it. The irony is that it is not rocket science, but more of learning from other countries with effective similar advertising associations. To me, it is the misaligned intentions of advertising agencies that is not strengthening the PAA. Unless we are committed to the cause of mutual benefit, we cannot make headway.

Question: Marketing personnel regularly complain that Pakistani advertising agencies are not creative. How would you respond to that?

AK: My answer to that is partially related to the compensation highlighted above. The other half relates to the fact that marketing and advertising are two sides of the same coin. What I mean from that is that they don’t exist independently and need each as partners. Unfortunately, the relationship is hardly ever seen by both sides as equals.

Marketing mostly believes that they are paying for the cost of advertising, therefore, they have the major stake in what is right or wrong. When they become the authority in the relationship, then there is no partnership. If marketers truly wish to enter into a partnership with the agency, then they should be willing to share rewards through increased compensation or bonuses when a campaign exceeds targets. I have never seen a client coming to me and saying here’s an additional Rs. 2 million for outstanding results from your creative campaign.

Question: Improvement is a result of deliberate effort in the right direction and not a coincidence. With this reality staring us in the face, how would you encourage advertising professionals to play an active role in developing talent?

AK: A society is made of people like you and me. No one has greater rights over the other if we truly believe in the rights given to us by the constitution of Pakistan. If we truly believe in this, then we must also believe that we need to give back something to the society. Some people do this through financial support or volunteering for a cause; as professionals we can contribute by sharing and learning. We have the platform of the PAA available to us. There are so many accomplished professionals in the industry, with tons of experience. We are powering the Cannes Lions’ See it, Be it platform for their first ever event in Pakistan along with other industry stakeholders. This is a program designed to accelerate the career of women in advertising by inspiring and mentoring them. Once again, we have the full support of PAA and PAS and we have included mentors and speakers of global repute. These are industry issues and until we tackle them holistically we will not be able to raise the bar for the whole industry.

Above is an extract from the article “HOW TO PUT A DENT IN THE UNIVERSE”, as originally published in Synergyzer 15-Year Annual Special (Issue 1 – 2018).