Who doesn’t cash in on Patriotism?

It’s just another dull Monday morning. I’m walking back from the bank at 10, and shops are yet to open. Two things catch my eye, the number 23 and green color. It’s a big ad of Ideas (by Gul Ahmed) stating they are giving out a 23% discount (no specific product) to celebrate Pakistan day from 17th to 26th March. Subconsciously, I have been looking for discount deals of restaurants as usually they do pop-up during holidays.

And that’s when I set out on a mission. The curious marketing student inside me wants to know how different brands are going to cash in under the patriotism slogan. There’s nothing wrong in doing it, we and all brands have a social responsibility towards society. Even our government and Army do it with Resolution Day Parade. It’s not exploiting patriotism but using it to connect with the people to get your message across.

I roamed around F-10 Markaz of Islamabad to find as many outdoor advertisments as possible and here’s my top 5 list from worst to best:

5. The Dinosaurs:


When I started to look around for more ads, this was the second that caught my eye. Although it is big in size and has such a prominent position, it took me a few minutes to realize it is by PIA when I found the plane lurking in the top edge. It looks like they just had to spend that money for 23rd March and asked an intern to make a billboard image for them. Take Windows XP background, paste Minar-e-Pakistan along with Quaid and Iqbal’s picture and voila! they have a banner. The message is worth a Facebook status but not on 10×30 ft. billboard.

4. Fundamentalists:

If I could pick an ad of a telecom operator from 5 years ago, it’ll be the same as today. SIM LAGAO, MUFT BALANCE PAO. Is that the only way a telecom operator knows how to retain or get back a customer? They are throwing away money for customer acquisition without changing their strategy. With a million opportunities in digital marketing and millions of existing customers, they still don’t know what to do. I don’t even have a suggestion for them on how to improve their marketing strategy, bring back Faisal and Salma maybe?


This is the kind of Marketing Fundamentalism that brands need to come out from. Bata doesn’t care whether 23rd March is coming up or not, they know “Sale up to 70%” works all the time and they will keep on doing it round the year.

3. The Clones:

Al-Karam you already have a huge green billboard. All you had to do was write 23 somewhere on it. It’s the postmodernist era where people don’t just go to shops based on Spring/Summer collections. Public days are equally important for buying behaviors.

Green City – Waste of ad-space. Far from relating with Pakistan Day, maybe these people are right in assuming people who wait on bus-shelter have enough money to just buy a land if they print their number and a picture of their entrance, who knows. Talking about Marketing Mix and the 4-P’s, there is simply no consideration of Product, Place, Price or how they are Promoting it.

The placement of Kayseria signage is good because of its visibility. Although, looks like they don’t even care what kind of customers they are targeting. “Spring/Summer ’17 collection all in one, we are going to run this same ad from Jan to September and change our ads once a year.”

They are going to keep on cloning the hit formulas whether they work or not. The force is weak with these ones.

2. Let-goers

Some brands have missed the opportunity by inches, so close yet so far because it was never their intention. Brands need to plan and implement according to the market trends. They could have aligned their launch of Khaadi Kids along with Pakistan day. Imagine how good this Khaadi Kids ad would have been if all the kids were wearing green clothes sending a patriotic message? *heartwarming*.


1. The Winners

This is where it all started. A good effort by Ideas but a clumsy one. Their Brand philosophy isn’t very clear. What does Ideas stand for? What does it mean as a Brand for customers? It would have been better if they had specified the products that are applicable for discount. Logo of Ideas in black? Not a very good idea. Better than the rest but not the best.

On the other hand, J. at its best! Branding – check. Promotion – Check. Ad clarity – Check. Product and Placement – Check, check, check! J.’s never failed in its high quality brand consistency – Soully East and Shari’ah compliant advertising. A bright green parrot transforming into clothes representing both their Brand philosophy and Patriotism is a clear winner! From Ad to store to online website, everything seemingly flows in a familiar fashion.