And, just like that, another year comes to an end. It’s already been a year since we published our inaugural Best & Worst Brand Happenings Lists. And here we are, again. With the number 13 being the highlight this year, it is no surprise that we have quite a whopper list of some really unfortunate brand happenings. From disasters of epic proportions to numerous instances of laughable faux-pas, this year we witnessed it all.

We have brought together the 20 Worst Brand Happenings from this year for you. Scroll away!

20. Launch of Peek Freans Cheers

As a product, the hybrid biscuit/chip Cheers was a unique offering in the Pakistani snack market. A unique product like this needed a similarly bold branding and marketing effort. But that effort simply wasn’t there. EBM played it way too safe and as a result failed to make any kind of impact or memorability for the brand. Starting off with a butt-ugly teaser campaign, Cheers came up with a terribly clichéd and obvious concept for the main promotion.


19. Dalda Vote for  Maa

Dalda is one of the most iconic and classy Pakistani brands. Over the years, Dalda has successfully managed its brand while expanding the product line and offering innovations. This year though, Dalda dropped the ball. Their vote for Maamta campaign is an atrocious attempt to cash in on election season buzz, and that too with a very bad concept.


18. Tapal Chenak

Another ad and another song and dance spectacle. This mini-episode-of-an-exotic-soap of an ad, starring soon-to-be-superstar Amna Ilyas, will achieve little for the brand, thanks to the lack of a solid idea, or any idea for that matter.


17. Lemon & Chocolate Sandwich

Sure, the brand team thought here that they’re doing some amazingly groundbreaking work with this ad. But the concept is so derivative of recent local work – Omore Buzz’s No Shashka Just Chaska and Simple Ji, 7Up Pi that it just feels been there, done that. And in the TV ad they sound like they’re apologizing for not having the budgets to do a song-dance ad in a foreign locale, or they’d have done it.


16. Nestlé’s Safe Milk Movement

Nestlé’s latest stab at us unknowing non-consumers of their uber safe milk is so offensive. Even if you’re going to mock the average Pakistani for not understanding what ‘safe milk’ is, at least do it realistically and not cast professional actors!


15. Hilal Khopra Candy

Hilal’s huge-ass attempt to pass off their sugary concoction as a premium sweet à la Dairy Milk with copy like ‘Sweet Caramel with Real Coconut’ only provided an example of deceptive advertising. It’s just a toffee. Stop blowing it out of proportion!


14. Talkshawk Meri Pasand

This is one of those crazy (the bad kind) ideas that should never make it past the creative’s notepad, let alone be presented to the client AND made into a major campaign. We’re sure Ayesha Khan has better things to do than ‘wondering how 16th-century people would use Talkshawk’. That said, we’re also quite positive that Telenor has much better stuff to spend their budgets on.


13. Tapal Danedar – Ab Dil Ki Suno

Demoting Tapal Danedar from its earlier, solid, positioning of ‘Har Mizaaj Se Aashna’ (Familiar with all tastes) and ‘Har Lamhe Ki Chah’ (Craving of every moment), is the abstract – and absurd – new proclamation: ‘Ab dil ki suno’ (Now, listen to the heart). Unlike the tea itself, which is strong and kicking, the new brand platform is vague and lacks any kind of substance. That probably explains why Tapal hired Irrfan Khan to do the voice-over for the new TVC. To make up for the lack of a solid concept perhaps? Sadly, even that bet failed as we and our sample audience failed to recognize – or give a damn about – Irrfan Khan voicing the script.


12. Lipton’s Tabdeeli

Lipton has become a lost cause for the most part. Oscillating between random episodes of hyper-activity and complete silence, the brand has no clear standing in the market. This new ad was an astoundingly horrendous attempt to be part of the election fever, albeit a bit too late and not helped by the tacky concept.


11. Gai Banaspati

What’s in a name? A lot, actually, when it comes to branding. Yes we understand you had your laundry soap brand of the same name that has some degree of an iconic status in Pakistan (Remember those Gai soap banane walon kee janib se dili eid mubarak text messages?)- but that absolutely doesn’t mean that you should blindly plaster it onto your next brand extension adventure. Much, much less when you’re moving from laundry soap to effing cooking oil!

The launch was high profile to say the least. Juhi Chawla from across the border is endorsing the brand in a campaign that is chock full of clichés and half a dozen melodramatic episodes over things like jalaibee and chips.


10. Mere Des Ka Biscuit Gala

Early this year we witnessed the botched rejuvenation of one of the country’s better known brands. Gala, the National Biscuit of Pakistan, has come a long way from the ‘Mehfil Ka Lutf Dobala’ times in the 90’s. But in the wrong direction.

Instead of building upon Gala’s classy and subtly but essentially desi brand essence with a similarly stylish brand communication, the brand people decided to take one aspect of the brand – desiness – and got high on it. The obnoxious TVC starring Noor is a cruel assault on the senses that does nothing to help the brand.


9. Glow’s Various Attempts

Oh look, it’s Glow by Warid again on the Worst Brand Happenings List. If it’s any achievement, Glow is up from the number one spot in last year’s list and now features in the bottom 10 of the list. Glow comes up with very many campaigns and successfully outdoes itself in trying too hard and ending up being lame and painfully wannabe.This year, in 2013, the trendsetting brand introduced its youth audience to the novel concept of a lip-dub. Enough said already?


8. Nestlé Crunch

Nestlé Crunch did a very elaborate teaser campaign (credit where due: the teaser did pique interest) that promised us an entertainment blockbuster with the really annoying yellow shark character. What did follow the teaser was a campaign that was both absurd and obnoxious. What exactly they were getting at with those ads? We have no idea.


7. Perk

Apart from being too similar a concept to what Snickers is doing in India, Perk’s latest campaign has a very muddled execution that falls flat on its face.


6. Pepsi Dil Mangey Abhi

Early this year we saw Pepsi throw all its brand positioning and essence out the window and release a campaign that did nothing but highlight Pepsi as the me-too wannabe Coke. Unsurprisingly, the campaign ran for a very short time before being taken off air.


5. Omore Monkey Peel

Omore foolishly under-estimated the power of the internet and pushed out a shamelessly plagiarized product and communication assuming that it would go undetected. This episode will serve as a lesson for all would-be plagiarizers.


4. Sooper Hai Zindagi

So usually with Pakistani advertising, concepts are a rarity. But we do have a knack for producing catchy jingles (even Mere Des Ka Biscuit Gala can be a ‘lil enjoyable!) that at least put a shell around the lack of substance. But not in this case. There is no concept and that’s a given. But even the jingle, acting and overall feel is so meh that we wonder why they even bothered to make this ad.


3. Nesfruta Enjoyyyyzz Lai

The less said about this the better.


2. Pakistan Idol

Pakistan Idol has not just ruined the Idol brand with its extra focus on cheap stunts and bad acting, it has also taken away from the person brands of the judges such as Ali Azmat who lost much of his charm while amateurly making fun of hapless crooners, without being funny, clever or appropriate.


1. Mobilink’s Rebrand

The locally derided and internationally panned new brand identity of Mobilink earns the bottom spot in this list for the sheer scale of operations that this exercise was carried out on. From hiring the world’s premier brand consulting firm (not that it helped the case in any way), to having Ali Zafar compose the title music and then getting it recorded in Hollywood, Mobilink clearly spent boatloads of money on this rebranding. Unfortunately, money alone does not a good brand make. The astounding lack of originality and severely incompetent execution have even earned this project a place in BrandNew Magazine’s annual Worst Brand Identities of 2013 (Global) list.

Phew. That was a long, long list of really uninspiring work. Do you have your own ‘favorites’ from this year? Disagree with some of our picks? Let us know in the comments!

Compiled by · The Desi Design Team

Written by Najwat Rehman