A big company in Pakistan has created a platform for change

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)

Perfect timing

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?

5 thoughts on “A big company in Pakistan has created a platform for change

  1. It’s a very nice campaign; i really like the idea and design though i have few reservations on Electronic Campaign (TVC: a production in a rush, for such content they should have given more time to the director),
    The communication is not very clear for masses, we can undertand and appriciate, but a country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan#Education) where 55% of population can read and write only, out of them only 11% are using internet and social media, and that 11% (http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia.htm) can only understand this campaign, TVC or a Radio Spot ( TV/Radio, electronic Media) can create buzz on a large scale then Print or Social Media, as stats are making it more clear. This cannot bring change we have to admit as a Pakistani but this will bring Revenue to the brand and good remarks for the team, which is good.
    And in last, right now as a nation we are not able to handle some sort of change, and the current socio political change in few countries is happen because they were far more educated then us and they can think and bare the change at same time.
    If we want to change some social scenario through campaigns then we should

    “beam the voice of the people without using coloured filters, and the voice itself will bring change.”

    1. Hey Rarba
      did u think maybe change doesnt come to pakistan because YOU are unwilling to accept it?
      change will come to pakistan… when the people are ready, the process has begun…

      1. I think you didnt understand, change is what we need but not in current socio-political scenario we have here in pakistan, my self and lot more people have studied and experience Zia Regime and we have to come up with something without army administration.

        what happen to great revolutions u must read
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12431231

        this campaign is not in our national intrest at all, i know u might not agree with this, but one has to face this, current situation is about making grounds to bring change. not change all of a sudden.

        how u can stop a stalker via sms.

        there are so many issues with the campaign so please understand the national intrest first before delivering a campaign, and telenor should say thanx to PAKISTAN as this country is running without any national security policy.

        kindly understand such things.

        Regards
        RA – RBA

  2. Hi Julian, we met at the Aurora seminar last year. Great to see you back in Karachi.
    I agree that this is a bold move but can it sell on the basis of RTB?
    This is the same brand that has in the past had campaigns and a brand communication that bordered on the irresponsible.



    Now all of a sudden they’ve turned over a new leaf?
    Where this brand has been heavily advertised (I don’t think Telenor spend more than both Unilever and PnG together) and so there’s gonna be a lot of residual advertising in people’s minds.

    If this was a launch campaign I would say full marks but how does this link with the past and established brand image and personality?
    Perhaps a bridge between the two the old tagline was It’s fun to be young” – like It’s fun to be young but be responsible

    1. I agree that it is a big change of direction and one where there is not really a link between the two. So credibility as you say is key.
      Two thoughts on this
      -If a new campaign is much stronger that the old one it will replace the old one quickly in the affections of people. People forget ads quickly when something more potent is put in its place
      -Having changed direction the company will need to stay with it and follow up with more work on the more serious and responsible platform. Flipping back to “It’s fun to be young” could then just look opportunistic.
      Thanks for your comments – do keep me in touch with “What next?” for Telenor
      Julian

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