May, 2018

How would you describe the advertising industry in Pakistan?
It has grown by leaps and bounds and is much more challenging than it was in the 90s. With specialized services such as media buying, social media services, outdoor services and brand activation, etc. things have come a long way and it is becoming tougher for an advertising agency to sustain itself in the market if it does not offer a complete service package and satisfies its clients. On the other hand, clients have also become more active which drives the agencies to come up with the best creative ideas and solutions.

What inspired you to pursue a career in advertising?
My love for TV and the colourful and musical advertisements drew me towards this field. I also used to follow the ads in the newspapers and in my MBA studies too, I chose marketing as a major. In addition to this, my thesis topic in the finals was ‘Advertising Industry in Pakistan’. I was required to meet and interview various agency owners and see how they handled their clients, produced campaigns from scratch and what were the ethics of the field. It was during this time that I met people like Javed Jabbar, Tahir A. Khan, S.H. Hashmi and Akbar Ali and realized that this is what I wanted to do.

How challenging is your position at Pirana?
Being the MD of the company brings a lot of responsibilities and challenges and I am working out ways and means to take the company further. My main focus is on business growth and development and to look after the best interests of our existing clients to ensure they get the best service and are satisfied with our efforts.
I am looking forward to transforming the agency’s new and existing brands with creative excellence and innovative business solutions that take them to heights of success and set them apart from their competitors. I believe that an agency’s growth and success depends on building its clients’ business and developing brands and I plan to utilize the leadership team’s global brand expertise and network agency experience to ensure the best outcomes.

Tell us about some of your achievements.
It’s been a long and eventful journey since I started my career in the mid-90s at Interflow. I was a core member of the team when the Pepsi 300 ml bottle was launched in Karachi in 1996 after the cola war between Pepsi and Coke. I was also a senior brand manager at Cupola Pakistan Ltd. and had a key role in the launching of international franchises in Pakistan like TGI Friday, Pizza Express, Thomas Cook, Alpha Graphics and Color 4 Kids.
In 2000, when the John Player Gold Leaf Voyage of Discovery Boat came to Pakistan, I was leading the team that organized the mega event at PAF Korangi Creek with massive media coverage in Pakistan and Dubai.


Again, in 2000, when the English Cricket Team visited Pakistan after a long gap of 13 years for three Test matches and three ODIs, I was responsible for managing international media and journalists throughout the event.

Does advertising also play the role of a social service platform?
Certainly. It has a very big impact on the general consumers. Marketing and advertising play a prominent role in shaping our society and the way we seek, think, understand and act. Whatever we portray through our ads and communicate to the people, they remember it and are influenced by it in the long run, so it is up to us as to how well we use this medium.

Advertising plays the role of a social service platform if it is used for delivering positive messages and depicting an inclusive picture of society. With ads we paint a picture of a society which shapes how we view ourselves and what many people aspire to.

What is your opinion about the new talent that is coming to the ad industry?
I think the new generation is very talented and is in a much better position to handle marketing and advertising as they have access to the international market and the social media platforms that bring them very close to the consumers. They understand what the consumers like, what they are looking for and are in a better position to devise campaigns that work well.

Please highlight some of the dominant problems of the Pakistani ad industry?
The problems that our ad industry faces these days is lack of resources as well as reluctance of the clients in giving complete control to the agency and trusting it with something that has not been tried yet. We also face production limitations due to which we have to travel abroad to shoot commercial, which is troublesome, expensive and time-consuming.

Is there a need for professional advertising institutions in Pakistan?
I think yes, we need a platform where the younger generation can learn more about advertising and marketing and put their skills and aptitude to good use. There should be a place where they can meet the more experienced people in the field, learn the basics and understand the challenges of what goes on to make their job a success.

Don’t you think Pakistani advertising has to develop a lot?
I remember that when I was young and used to watch channels of other countries, I would feel that there was a lot of difference and we did not have the resources or the technology to compete with them but our content was far superior. These days, we have better resources and technology but we need to focus on content that really draws consumers and helps them become loyal customers.

What are your future plans for Pirana?
My first goal is to make Pirana one of the top ad agencies in Pakistan. I am also aiming to get the top brands on our portfolio.
I aim to build long-term and more meaningful relationships with clients and help them reach out to their consumers with an innovative, creative and strategic thought process.

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