The Ethics Code for Cellcos

ethicsWith each marketing push by the cellular companies of Pakistan, comes the public feedback. Over the years, the consumer has become a more critical person, taking the time to judge a product or advertisement with a fine comb.

It is hard to conclude whether the consumer is fully understanding of value, as there could be a varied opinion of value among the various segments of consumer that grace the Pakistani cellular market.

In recent months, debate has arisen over the moral values and code of conduct followed by the local cellular companies. This is directly linked with the largely conservative society that inhibits in our corner of the world, with culture and religion blending with many other spices to create a volatile concoction.

There are two parts to the discussion; the products being flocked to the market and the promotional concepts being utilized. In the first part, the hue and cry has greatly dominated over the late-night call packages that are seen as specifically targeted towards the younger cellular user.

The belief is that cellular companies are encouraging the innocent and precious youth of this country to purchase packages that have free night calls, so that they can spend their late hours fraternizing with their friends, especially those of the opposite sex.

Before shifting the blame to the companies, we need to focus on the topic at large. The packages are no new creation; in fact, cheaper calls at night have been a dominant factor of cellular and landline communication companies for decades, in Pakistan and abroad. In the days of analogue services, there were packages that allowed free incoming calls on mobiles from midnight to early morning.

In the defense of companies, they are business entities created to generate a steady stream of revenue for their shareholders, by providing services and value to the stakeholders.

And just as is true for every business, there is always a need to seek out ways to increase that revenue. As communication traffic dips after 11pm, the easy proposal is to earn a rupee instead of nothing, and hence cellcos and internet operators entice the consumer with late night offers.

Let’s move on to the promotion of these offers. As we have entered the 21st century, the media of Pakistan has pushed for more freedom, and this is visible. Creativity is trickling, if not oozing. Cellcos have to be credited with some of this push, being one of the larger industries utilizing the media to spread their message.

The appeal of taboo matters like friendships and relationships between youth of the opposite sex is significant to show that there is an underlying inkling to free our society of cultural confines. If it is used to enact a utopian setting for some, doesn’t that just fall under the freedom of thought act, if one does exist?

Is it the onus of the creator to seclude certain information for the purity of mental thought processes, or are the audience able to filter out the redundant data in a feasible manner and capture the real pitch of the entire showpiece?

The essence of any advert or product is to showcase value for the consumer; humor, sex and other subjects are just matter used by entities to forge a connection with the public, as well as hope for greater brand identity. In tough economies, businesses go to extreme lengths to remain a competitive force.

In recent months, Telenor has copped flak for its call to boycott the silent attitude that the larger expanse of the so-called citizens of this nation have adopted. Whatever the subject matter, we forget that while no one is calling for the local society to be a copy of the West, a developed mindset does not need for the shedding of clothes or any other inappropriate act within public view. All it needs is the open space to think; independence.

Moral ethics in business often create logger-heads in the face of the core function of making money. After all, the internet was created to be a defense communication system and ended up being much more, with pornography the ruling arena. Mobile communication was envisaged as a need for those constantly on the move, but has become as important as the keys to our house. With all technological innovation comes a form of abuse. But can the blame solely be placed on the entity bringing the innovation?

The previous generation snuck around to get their deeds done. The current one is bolder to be more honest with their actions. The next one will evolve the process further. While local customs should be respected, the need of the hour for this nation is to evolve ahead as well so that our social fabric incorporates the present and prepares for the future.


  • admin

    In other words, according to you, businesses can’t think of anything other than their revenues. Society, values, ethics, community, there’s nothing above their balance sheets?

    To beautify their financial results they can do anything and everything?

    For the purpose, they will use whatever argument they deem right? by using terminologies like modernization, freedom of expression, 21st century and alike?

    If this was the case then why Don Vito Corleone didn’t sell drugs? He was a businessman too, then why he didn’t opt for a very profitable business?

    My friend, these businesses won’t be of any good if the customer isn’t sound and solid, both financially and morally.

    • Shahid Saleem

      — In other words, according to you, businesses can’t think of anything other than their revenues.

      The whole point of a business is to make money. That is the primary goal and if they do not work towards that, then they are irresponsible with their investors money. Of course they have to take into account cultural and social issues. They cannot work their employees to death or sell poison or stuff like that.

      — To beautify their financial results they can do anything and everything?

      He did not say that in his post. Please focus on post and not what you THINK the post might mean.

      Look at a related point: birth control. We know Pakistan needs it. We cannot even feed everyone in Pakistan today. Yet if people try to show ads for it (even ads by government!!!) people say it is against culture, etc etc.

      Two years ago I met a friend of my father at a lunch (he was visiting from outside PAkistan). He said he had talked to social workers during his visit and they were talking about how bad sexual diseases like AIDS are in Pakistan, and things are getting worse. How can we educate people about the problem? The government can’t talk about it, they people start shouting about culture religion etc but the PROBLEM IS REAL AND GROWING TODAY.

      Tomorrow, if Telenor shows ad about the problem, think will your comments section be flooded by complaints?? Wont there be people saying “why don’t they show ads about aids in Norway”? What does Norway have to do with a problem in Pakistan???

      Another issue: looking over the comments you & other moderators allow on this site, what kind of comments are NOT okay? I see racism, sexism all the time. Look at all the comments against Arabs whenever there is something about Etisalaat. Look at all the comments against women in some other posts. Can you say any of that is okay by your religion or culture? And yet it give you traffic yes?

      People who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stone.

      • admin

        I had a feeling, and i expressed it. I am totally okay if you differ from my thoughts.

        About comments, I accept that its getting hard to keep up with out comment policy. And the reason is very simple: We don’t publish explicit language, but at the same time we try not to curb the freedom of expression.

        • Shahid Saleem

          — I had a feeling, and i expressed it. I am totally okay if you differ from my thoughts.

          That is good to know and I respect you for that. Thank you.

          — We don’t publish explicit language, but at the same time we try not to curb the freedom of expression.

          As the many incidents in the West (and even in our country) has shown, there are many things that are valid when it comes to Freedom of Speech but are not okay to other minorities. For example, it would be STupid of me to talk of my love for beef peppersteaks if I was living in India heh. I can say anything I want against the king of Thailand but they will censer me online if I say that online.

          And in our country I cannot get into an argument about how to pray (holding hands etc) in a mosque if someone starts argument because I will be thrashed. Even for not doing anything against my religion OR theirs (same religion).

          But I have to disagree with your lax enforcement because it does not meet your own standards. If Mobilink or Telenor or anyone can put out an ad that makes you post against it (and affect not you only but others too) then it should NOT be okay to post similar things in comments here. Or, if you allow such comments you should work to refute their claims or correct them.

      • Omer

        First of all,on your comment, To beautify their financial results they can do anything and everything?
        My reply: Will you run this blog if it entails huge losses? NO, then why get over that statement of yours.

        Secondly, on your moronic comment, “Why Don Vito Corleone didn’t sell drugs? He was a businessman too, then why he didn’t opt for a very profitable business?
        My reply: Everyone comes with their own Vision to do something, there are Blogs for Promoting Culture and Traditions of Country, Why didn’t you ever run them?
        So get over that childish stuff too,

        Aamir, why can’t you come with something perfectly sensible as a blog owner should be?
        And, get over Telenor phobia. You won’t be paid anymore by Moblink, April’s Fool Day is over, they did it with you this year already.

        • admin

          Omer, you need to learn business, believe me. I am responding you just for the sake of your knowledge, so you can be a better professional.

          You said: Will you run this blog if it entails huge losses? NO, then why get over that statement of yours

          – Who told you that corporations are built on bad doings only? We have example of our prophet Mohammad (PBUH) for running a very successful trading business without lying, faking or pretending.

          You said: Everyone comes with their own Vision to do something, there are Blogs for Promoting Culture and Traditions of Country, Why didn’t you ever run them?

          – what question is this? You are trying to push me quit this blog – just coz you don’t like it? this doesn’t make sense bro.

          Secondly, you didn’t get my (according to you a moronic) comment, which tries to emphasis that businesses are not run for profits only. Businesses are obligation to the society and whatever they do will reflect back to their revenues in the long run.

          And lastly, you have been accusing me of so-many things, for a long now, i am contented with not responding to your allegations – which are baseless. I will quit blogging (with in a minute) if you or anyone prove me of getting money from any entity in Pakistan (other than advertisements of course).

          • Ansari

            Why bash cellco’s in general and some cellcos in particular when each time you turn on your tv you are watching unethical songs, tv dramas, videos, relaity shows, talk shows and talk show hosts, politicians and unethical ads from makers of biscuits to sanitary pads :)

            The youth tht you speak of will not sit down and distinguish between wht message is being potrayed to it and by whom!! You cannot corner and crucify the cellco’s based on their ad making. They entered this market a lot later than other industries who have even more unethical ads than they do……

            Infact if you look at one of the ads placed on this particular page, it promotes LOVE AND ROMANCE along with the photo of an Indian actress :) so basically if you advertise such stuff its ok, but when the cellco’s do it, its unethical??

            Yani aap dance kerain to enjoyment aur cellco’s kerain to mujra?? Kya yeh khulla tazaad nahi? :D

    • Agreed with Aamir…. It’s a fools desire to set everything on customer’s will & character…. Common man??? Stop advocating each & every rule developed by western society… We have to filter out & choose only the best practices from every aspect & though away the filth if we want to rule the future world.

      Same approach was followed by western countries few hunderd years ago that they carried forward the research work done by Muslim scholars but didn’t repeat the dirty muslim history….. Please grow up & learn how to learn instead of becoming copy-cat. I am glad that our society is developing this sense & started criticizing what is not suitable for us without any dictatorship.

      That is called a mentally mature society. Now you are trying to make them immature again…

      You say let people decide & understand. Infact that is what our people doing NOT dictated by government or any agency or political party & now this is pinching you … funny. Kia ye Khula Tazad nhi hai????

      • Ansari

        If this society is growing up and trying to make a sense of things, you are certainly not part of it! You didn’t even bother reading wht I have written with enuf attention to notice that I am not criticizing the criticism but rahter the selection of a particular segment for critique! And I quite correctly pointed our the critic was doing the same thing which he criticises on his website….. so yes it is a khulla tazaad!

        My point simply was, why corner out telco’s when jelly beans ads profess “Wohi boring teacher, wohi boring lecture” to a much younger audience than the one targetted by the celcos. Why do ppl like ads of Sprite when they profess “Girl friend k samnay dosri larkiyon ko kaisay dekhein?” Why don’t you crib when you see 3 women dancing with a guy to sell milk??

        Seriously dude, grow a brain and stop this hypocritical bashing of one segment of the ad market, whether it be Telcos or anyone else. Wht is immoral is immoral, whether one person is doing it in society or the whole society adopts it as a practice….. Next time you comment please read everything with an open mind!!

        • I totally agree with you on this… There is nothing hypocritical. Personally speaking I am very much irritated with Sprite or Nokia XXXX add but the thing is Cellular industry is the largest media player so their adds are more frequently seen so criticism was first triggered on them & still they are on hit list as a trend because we all follow “bhairr chaal” in critisizing. Frankly speaking, we should appreciate Khamoshi ka byecott, kro mumkin, azm-e-alishan etc

          • By the way my comments were for Author & not on your comments

            • Ansari

              My apologies… I misunderstood them!

  • Ahmed

    Businessmen have always been responsible for wars, diseases, crimes, inflation, hunger, corruption and every big evil in history.

    • Shahid Saleem

      It is easy to make general statements, but look our prophet was a businessman. Did you forget?

      People blame capitalism for many things, but capitalism does not mean you should destroy environment. Without capitalism, you don’t have trade! What do you have without trade? Nothing.

  • You say let people decide & understand. Infact that is what our people doing. The are NOT being dictated by government or any agency or political parties & now this is pinching you u are opposing this … funny. Kia ye Khula Tazad nhi hai????