Telenor’s bold move that deserves support
A striking and different campaign has hit the streets and airwaves of Pakistan from Telecoms giant Telenor. The company is putting a lot of money behind it on TV and in posters (and is one of the highest spending advertisers in the country-they spend more than Unilever and P&G combined.).
When I drove from the airport to the hotel in Karachi it was the poster that really stood out as different from the happy smiling faces of the other big spending brands on the drive into the city. It was the same in Islamabad , where all the government offices are. A large (96 sheet) poster was right outside the airport-Pakistani politicians cannot fail to see it in their back yard.
Kamoshi Ka Boycott means ‘end the silence’ (that can further be elaborated as ‘and raise your voice’) is an invitation to the youth of Pakistan to speak out and text in on the issues that really matter to them-(the ads are branded DJuice-which is Telenor’s pre paid mobile tariff aimed at the young)
Telenor’s timing is near perfect- partly planned, partly luck.
The luck bit is that this campaign was being developed before the current wave of change in the Middle East and North Africa but it chimes perfectly with it.
The planned bit is that this campaign coincides with the cricket world cup in a cricket mad nation. Kamoshi Ka Boycott TV commercials appear in the breaks of the cricket shows that cover the exploits of Shaid Afridi and his dashing band of teammates. While other brands are doing light-hearted promotions around the cricket world cup, Telenor has broken with convention and created a platform for people to raise the serious issues
Telenor are in a long tradition of telecoms companies who use communications to bring about a change in the culture and not just sign up customers. It really started with The Future is bright the Future is Orange in the mid 80s in the UK. Yet Telenor’s campaign is and looks altogether more visceral and immediate than that- it has an energy and an immediacy that is needed to start movements and is in the best traditions of political posters rather than brand ads
Will it catch fire?
Telenor has committed a big ad spend and it has helped to put low cost mobiles in the hands of young Pakistanis so they can communicate their issues cheaply with a text-which is what the first part of the campaign invites them to do.
That of course will be a story in its own right- what will young Pakistanis text in? – a report back on that is worth covering in the media (at home and abroad given the context of the times).
Yet Telenor still need a bit more luck- they need personalities to get behind it-(step forward Shaid Afridi ?)-and they need to tap into a vein of discontent and desire for change. The results as we have seen in North Africa can be unpredictable.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
These are especially difficult times for politics in Pakistan
Two progressive politicians, who stood against the blasphemy laws, have been gunned down by the Taliban.This is meant to silence moderate opinion and tolerant people and it must have an effect-to speak out in Pakistan you do not just have to be good but very brave. Few individuals are prepared to pay with their lives as Shahbaz Bhatti and Salmann Taseer did. Perhaps a force for change is not to rely on a few brave individuals but to engender a mass movement of young open minded people- this is what has brought about a transformation in Tunisia and Egypt.
It is early days in the campaign-what will happen next?