Indian Talent in Pakistani Adverts – Debate Continues!

Lately there has been a lot of talk about using Indian faces and Indian talent when making ads for Pakistan. Some people have pointed out as to why local talent was not used.

On why Indian faces are creeping into our ads when we have local talent, a creative manager with several campaigns under his belt and wanted to remain un-identified, explains that this is not a new phenomenon.

He reminds us instances from the past that used Indian crew, in one way or the other. He compiled us a list of campaigns. which involved the word India.

  • Surf (Unilever) and Always (P&G) have shot with Indian teams.
  • Clear Shampoo (Unilever) hired an Indian crew to record the Pakistani version of Fear Factor.
  • Coke and Pepsi started this trend in their early days and still do it. The Coca Cola “Kha Ley Pi Ley Jee Ley” campaign used Indian talent both on and off camera.
  • Remember the very touching Everyday (Nestle) ad where the husband offers to make tea with the “Banay hai ek dosray kay liyay” tagline? He is Indian and so is the girl who plays his wife.
  • Kashmir Banaspati has used Indian faces and crew for the “Bus Yehi Hai Achi Zindagi” campaign.
  • Initial ads of Talkshawk (Telenor) fall in this category. The launch campaign of Telenor Easy Paisa “Zindagi Asaan Huee” is entirely “Made in India” down to the location, cast and production team.
  • Jazz (Mobilink) “Apna hai” campaign used a face some may recognize from the Star Plus serial Santaan. While there are more ads in pipeline from Mobilink that are being shot in India.
  • A few years ago, Lux (Unilever) shot a campaign with Aishwarya that was used in both India and Pakistan. More recently, they have used Katrina on our billboards.
  • Alokozay tea with a streamer campaign.
  • Firdaus textile launched its Summer Collection featuring Kareena Kapoor which has stirred as much debate in India as it has here. Shot in a foreign location, the campaign cashes in on the Bollywood mania that is rampant in Pakistan.
  • Gul Ahmed had only just launched its prestigious Summer Prints Issue with Giselle, one of the leading ladies opposite Saif Ali Khan from the movie Love Aaj Kal.

Clearly hiring Indian crew is a rising trend these days. We have discussed before about the technical, professional and working differences of both side of borders, we thought of asking another professional on “why companies are contacting Indian production houses and models for their ads?”.

Faraz, an account manager at a creative agency expresses his thoughts in following manner:

When deciding on a team, our choices are carefully thought out and well researched to make sure that the message will strike a nerve with the target audience.

If the audience responds to a foreign face, there is no reason to go against the tide. At the same time, using foreign talent in no way implies that local talent is not good enough. One has to look at availabilities to work according to the timelines and demands of the clients.

We have very few known directors and even fewer DOPs both of which are extremely important when producing a TVC. Clients are often pressed for time. Companies in the FMCG and Telecom sector, some of which air more than 5 commercials per quarter, cannot at times wait for the good directors’ schedules to clear up and therefore prefer to explore options elsewhere.

Our industry is still very small and unable to meet the demand of the clients in terms of talent as well. For years, we are seeing the same faces walk the ramp and do the commercials. The actors that are on TV have been around for a long time and they have all been used by some company or the other.

Iman has been featured in umpteenth commercials. Shahid Afridi is the brand ambassador for at least three big names. Someone as selective as Shaan has also done several commercials – Mobilink, Pampers, Ronaq Masala to name a few.

Our industry needs a resource injection. More directors and assistant directors, set designers and production crew would make it easier for companies to choose from local variety. Fresh faces are also not very common. With modeling still being a cultural taboo, not many new faces come up. For the industry to flourish, we need to create an enabling environment that follows the professional codes practices internationally and nurtures fresh talent at every level.

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Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK