With the year 2013 now behind us and the Worst Brand Happenings List done with, it is time to sit back and enjoy (and appreciate) some of the best design, branding and advertising work from 2013.

Before we dig in, it is important to understand what this list really is. Most importantly: 

It is NOT a list of the best ads of the year.

Nor is it a list of the most catchy jingles that came out. It is, essentially, our pick of the key ‘Brand Happenings’ that enhanced the narrative and standing of brands in the consumers’ mindspace as well as in the marketplace. Therefore, we may consider a low-key product extension or a corporate-level rebrand for inclusion in the list, even if no grand ad campaigns accompany the aforementioned. We may even include entries that may otherwise be considered gratuitous tragedies (PTCL’s One Pound Fish is a solid example). As long as it enhances a brand’s standing and narrative, it is a valid candidate for the list.

Of course, it’s all very subjective and your opinion of a particular campaign, its presence/absence and rank on a list, may well differ from ours. That’s why we have the comments section!

With that bit of clarification done, please enjoy the 20 Best Brand Happenings of 2013!

20. Bisconni Rite

In the wake of Oreo officially launching in Pakistan thanks to Lu becoming part of Mondelez International, Rite put together a very well timed and well executed campaign to remind everyone that it is still there. Accompanied with a fun and memorable jingle, Rite presents itself in all the trademark Oreo situations (complete with the Twist, Lick, Dunk ritual) and then some. This, right in the face of Oreo, is excellent marketing for what is essentially a me-too product. Oreo’s impotent entry that failed to excite even its own brand manager, let alone the audience, only made Rite’s story happier.


19. The Rebrand of Olper’s

Olper’s is a brand that has built great equity in a very short amount of time. After years of excellent initiatives and campaigns, Olper’s needed a refresh to reconnect with its audience and reiterate its standing. The timing was perfect for the rebrand and the excellent efforts put forward both in terms of design and advertising definitely gave Olper’s what it needed. Having none other than Marina Khan as the brand ambassador was an especially nice touch.


18. Candi

The relaunch of an old Pakistani favorite biscuit is rife with the possibility of disaster when you know that the parent company also did this. Quite miraculously, the brand team didn’t screw it over and delivered a beautiful piece of brand communication. Candi’s positioning as a nostalgic, sweet treat that brings back the memories of great times is a very appropriate strategy. But this strategy wouldn’t have worked for a dime had it not been accompanied by the flawless endearing execution of a masterpiece commercial.


17. National Ketchup

So you really can’t go wrong with a fun and catchy jingle can you? Well, with National Ketchup, the fun jingle is accompanied with really good copy, a simple and strong proposition – Hai Zaroori -, and obviously gorgeous visuals. All these strong parts come together to make a whole that simply works.


16. Tarang Housefull

If there’s one thing Tarang wins on hands down, it’s consistency. Keeping a laser-sharp focus on Lollywood from literally day one, Tarang has added a lot of glitz and glamour to our film industry and its stars. Some might argue that investing in this dying beast is a dumb strategy. It might be partly correct, but with this approach, Tarang not only builds a lot of nostalgic/patriotic association with itself, but also maintains a strong connection with the overall entertainment platform which, ofcourse, is fool-proof in Pakistan. With Housefull, they have tried to do something really grand and ambitious. They might not have made a strong mark but we definitely think they deserve a place on this list for the thinking behind this.


15. The Lawrencepur Man

Men’s favorite Lawrencepur makes its TV debut with a beautiful and warm ad that shows us the lady’s perspective of her man. An excellent brand building exercise that truly adds a lot of value to Lawrencepur.


14. Ding Dong

Although it seems obvious and hard to appreciate, we think Hilal made a great decision by reviving the classic Ding Dong jingle, this time featuring cool 3D animation which kinda feels like Kung Fu Panda (but obviously on a cheaper scale). In Ding Dong, which is the closest to what we can call an iconic Pakistani brand, they have a great asset that they can capitalize on and by building on a past marvel, they are going in the right direction.


13. PTCL Landline Link

We know we’re stepping into a minefield with this one but we think that, despite what it looks like on the face (disaster?), it was actually a very smart move by PTCL. See, what do brands like Zong, Mobilink, Lipton and Nokia have in common? They’re well known and spend a lot on building their brands, right? Hence they have a lot to lose (and would likely lose) if they tried to pull a stunt like this featuring The One-Pound-Fish Guy. Zong already fell flat with its take on Gangnam Style, remember? And PTCL? Well, PTCL really didn’t have much to lose because all the PTCL brand is renowned for is being sucky. With a stunt like this, they could either get a lot of publicity and exposure for their unloved-by-consumers landline service, or it could be total flop in which case life would go on undisturbed. We commend PTCL for taking this risk and think it paid off with the kind of publicity (either kind is good) this generated. Heck, even we covered it!


12. The Rebrand of Hum Network

Hum TV, the significant other of 98% Pakistani women, got a change of face this year. In fact, the entire Hum Network, comprising 3 channels, went through an exercise brand unification to promote a consistent visual style across the channels. The exercise was much needed in order to strengthen and refresh the individual brands and to bring together the channels under one umbrella clearly. Hum did an excellent job both in terms of design and visuals as well as with the enthusiastic and dedicated launch of the new brand.


11. Finca Microfinance

Little known Kashf Microfinance Bank recently got taken over by the international Finca Microfinance Bank. Finca celebrated its arrival in the Pakistani market with a campaign that is as smart as it is simple. Without trying to do something radical, Finca focuses on a simple story-telling theme to send across its message. The excellent execution drives the point home rather beautifully.


10. Sprite Nights

Easily the best jingle this year. Catchy and fun. But there’s more to Sprite’s latest campaign than the Mika-sung jingle. Moving from the Mirchi ka Tadka theme from last year (that was #3 on our Best list last year), Sprite is now creating a new brand platform: Sprite Nights. Building on the ‘culture’ of night tournaments and night-outs in the mohalla, Sprite finds a unique space in which to integrate the brand. The idea surely has a lot of potential and we’d love to see Sprite develop it further.


9. The Relaunch of Telenor Talkshawk

Talkshawk did stumble a bit this year with its 16th-century people idea, earning a spot on our Worst of 2013 list. But fortunately the mass-market telecom brand has gotten its act together with a complete relaunch. Built on the idea of ‘Sachi Yaari Sab Pe Bhari’ (True friendship trumps all), Talkshawk takes a very straightforward and no-nonsense route: bashing the usual pains associated with having a cellphone connection. Things like hidden charges, deceptive offers and the like are surely annoying and Talkshawk smartly communicates its stance on such. With situations that personify these annoyances very creatively, Talkshawk reinforces the idea of Sachi Yaari Sab Pe Bhari very effectively.


8. HBL ID Moneywise

HBL recently launched a smartphone app that helps you manage your savings and spending. This is a great step forward in trying to actually engage and involve customers through experiences that help both the consumer and the brand.


7. EFU Life

After being a largely unknown, boring insurance firm with a very dull image for the longest time, EFU recently transformed. And how. With a very confident, unexpected, and pleasantly surprisingly, consistent brand effort, EFU has scored major points and mindshares. The campaign is based on a very fun and highly relevant creative idea and the executions have largely done justice to the potential that this brand platform has.


6. Talkshawk Muhafiz

Telenor as a whole, and most of its subrands have lately focused a lot on being the helpful hand and sincere friend, etc. Khamoshi Ka Boycott, Easy Paisa and Karo Mumkin are examples. With Talkshawk Muhafiz, a free and effortless micro-insurance service for Talkshawk subscribers, Telenor has once again highlighted that it cares about its customers. This is not only innovative but also – we presume – highly useful for Talkshawk’s target audience. A not-very-original but nevertheless fun marketing delivers the message well.


5. National Ka Pakistan

As we reported earlier this year, National Ka Pakistan is a brilliant initiative. It shows how quality, relevant content and natural brand integration can elevate a brand. National, with its overall brand focus on ‘celebrating Pakistani food’ is right on the money with a traveling roadshow that takes you to beautiful places and tantalizes you with local recipes. The creative work on this is also world class.


4. Launch of Geo Kahani

Geo Kahani is an excellent example of relevant and successful brand extension. With the onslaught of Turkish soaps starring way too many ridiculously good looking people, Pakistani serials’ and soaps’ ratings were in jeopardy. Geo had to respond. Instead of tainting the desi content on the ‘regular’ Geo with Turkish fare and risking audience alienation, Geo launched a whole new channel just to play imported soaps (and a few local ones too).

Kahani is a great name and the branding is very apt for a channel created to play soaps. If Mera Sultan’s sensational success is any indication, Geo has been very successful with Kahani.


3. Coke and Meals

Chalo Saath Khaein is such a brilliant piece of copy and a great idea to build quality communication on. Though fizzy drinks such as 7Up and earlier Sprite have played on a association with food and meals, Coke is by far the best take on this strategy. A warm and natural TV ad with good acting is just what was needed here.


2. Vital Tea Making Strides

Vital is the underdog who took the road less (read: hardly) travelled in Pakistan: it used its advertising seconds to send across strong messages and to stir thought while staying completely clear of glamour, gimmicks and gaffes. This year, demonstrating some excellent timing and even more excellent messaging, Vital had its say in two vital issues: election and ramzan price hikes. In face of the other two major tea brands in the country, Lipton and Tapal (who both make a showing on our Worst list this year), Vital generated buzz, started debate and all in all, strengthened its unique brand positioning.


1. QMobile

Ah, the curious case of QMobile! A home grown mobile phone brand that, with its relentless marketing push, has cemented its foothold in the Pakistani market, giving established global brands like Nokia and Samsung a serious beating. They have a product strategy that caters to all tastes and market segments. To market this extensive product portfolio they employ a entire army of high profile celebrity endorsers, ranging from Fawad Khan to Shaan, Iman Ali to Sara Loren and, very recently, KAREENA Kapoor! Getting onboard the Aashiqui 2 dude at the perfect time was just one more feather in the cap of the accomplished brand.

These were our picks from some of the best design, branding and advertising work from Pakistan in 2013. Have your own favorites? Let us know in the comments!

For some context, you can take a look at our Best & Worst Brand Happenings Lists from 2012.

Compiled by · The Desi Design Team

Written by Najwat Rehman