The advertising industry is often perceived as one of the ultimate destinations of the misfits we call creative people and for all the right reasons. Even ‘the powerhouse’ within an advertising agency is called ‘creative’ – a word also used for the individual members of that department.
But the irony is that when we make even a cursory review of the output of this industry, particularly in Pakistan, we often catch it relying on something that is regarded as opposite to creativity – clichés, and stereotypes. Here we offer a list of clichés/stereotypes, pretty rampant in our ads.
Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world but our advertising professionals are permanently fixated on the idea of two-child. Our ads, invariably, show happy parents with two kids, almost always of opposite genders, ie, a boy and a girl.
Retired man with a shawl
The old retired father or grandfather – sometimes also a grandmother – loves to read the newspaper on a rocking chair with a shawl; stylishly wrapped around his shoulders. He sometimes also uses that shawl to express his care for his spouse.
The young generation in our ads almost always hangs out in mixed groups mostly comprising an equal number of fashionable boys and cute girls. But if the group has an odd number of members, our advertising professionals often err on the side of girls.
Brand changing swipe
Our advertising agencies are also fond of the idea of introducing their brands by first getting the competitor’s brand removed with a swipe of hand. They sometimes also drop their product on the competitor’s product like a bomb. In this case, the competitor’s product mysteriously disappears to give way to the ‘better product’ which stylishly stands in its place.
Traditionally men were perceived as bold, vocal, and domineering while women were supposed to be demure, passive, and shy, particularly when they were donning their wedding gowns. We accept that times have changed. But the problem with our TV commercials is that their brides always fail to hide their fun-loving, wild nature even at their wedding reception. They demand their favorite drinks/foods at the most solemn of wedding ceremonies and jump to become part of a choreographed group dance because of the sheer ecstasy of that product.
Enigma of ‘introducing’
Well, I acknowledge that ‘Introducing’ or ‘Paish Hay’ is a pretty useful word (phrase) that comes in handy when we want to present a new product or service. But the problem is that one often feels like it is an absolutely necessary expression of our advertising jargon.
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