The study of advertising usually begins with a focus on creative strategy and tactics. Creative strategy determines what the advertising message is going to say while the creative tactics deal with how the message strategy will be implemented.
Humor is one of the most widely used techniques in advertising around the world, as about one out of five television ads contain humorous appeal. Although the use of humor in advertising has its origins in the early days of the business, its widespread use as advertising strategy is a more of a recent phenomenon.
However, few studies in this topic have addressed the fact that advertisements attempting humor vary dramatically in the level of humor they actually evoke in the target audience. While some ads are spectacularly successful at raising a laugh, while others fail to do so.
In Pakistan, use of humor in advertising is not a very common practice; however, there are some brands that have used it successfully and made lasting impact in the minds of the consumers.
Currently, the telecom sector, undoubtedly, is the biggest advertiser in Pakistan both in terms of advertising spend and airing of television commercials. This sector has used humour successfully in their advertisements which was first introduced as an advertising platform in telecom by Asher Yaqub Khan, a local marketing guru of the telecom industry.
His managerial career took off at Ufone’s launch where he was a significant team player. Working as a manager marketing he was the first one to implement the idea of humor in Ufone’s commercials. The TV viewers must have remembered the Salma and Shabbo commercials which Faisal Qureshi, Adeel Hashmi and his team had produced.
At present, Asher is working in Banglalink, an Orascom Group’s company in Bangladesh, as Chief Marketing Officer and now has 14 years of experience in the telecom sector.
Asher previously worked with Mobilink, as Director VAS, IR, LDI before joining Ufone in February 2008 for the second time, where he was responsible for a major turnaround in the company.
In 2006 Asher had left Ufone and joined DVCOM as GM marketing where again he used humor technique in BIG Time calling cards commercials.
After DVCOM Asher worked with Mobilink as Director VAS, IR, LDI for almost 22 months, where he couldn’t implement his humor technique as his position offered lesser freedom in creative inputs in the company’s advertising concepts. However, it is interesting to note Akbar Khan was his counterpart as of head of brands at Mobilink at that time.
In early 2008, Ufone was facing severe marketing and network issues and the brand was not keeping pace with the market growth. Asher was once again brought back to Ufone as Chief Marketing Officer; through his dynamic approach he once again made Ufone a successful brand in the telecom sector. He was responsible for a major upturn in Ufone in a year-and-a-half.
If we look at the statistics for 2008 and the first half 2009 for Ufone, we see that the company did pretty well in grabbing customers and also showed positive financial results.
After becoming the CMO of Ufone Asher brought Akbar Khan in his team who had been working with Mobilink as head of brands.
Although, Asher has left Ufone, his policies including advertising approach has not changed since then. His successor does not seem to have enough clout to choose different technique / platform.
The current Ufone’s humorous advertising platform with Faisal Qureshi, Adeel Hashmi and his team now has become very monotonous and not creating similar impact with the viewers as they used to.
With these funny ads, Ufone has failed to grab the corporate customer. The brand is now more of known amongst the teenagers only, unlike Telenor and Mobilink who brought funny and decent TVCs in parallel to cap all types of audiences.
For Ufone commercials, concept and production is being undertaken by Faisal Qureshi and his team.
Common man’s wisdom will suggest that its Ufone’s current marketing team behind all these funny ads, however, when discussed with a creative head of an advertising agency and a close ally of team, the source mentioned, that the team still discusses with Asher Yaqub about any new idea that comes to their mind, although Asher is no more part of Ufone.
Under the circumstances Ufone marketing team needs to come up with their own ideas, to break the monotony of the same faces which some time become more powerful than the brand. It seems that the current marketing team of Ufone lacks creative ideas which prevent it from taking any new initiatives.