Despite the Mayan’s best effort to spell end of game before the end of this year and thereby deny us the pleasure of looking back at the year past and recall how 2012 spelled for the world of brands, we are here, merrily forcing our opinion down your throat. Like any year, many brands were launched and many culled, many campaigns planned and some of them realized, many brands reinvented themselves while some built on past perceptions, but in a nutshell 2012 was a very happening year.

We’ve compiled a list of the 25 best happenings in the branding, advertising and design areas in Pakistan and have ranked them in descending order. Let’s dive right into it!

25. Tarang Noor Jehan

This one makes it to this coveted list (!) merely on the strength of its daring idea. “We need a new celebrity to endorse our brand but can’t think of one for the life of us. Life, did you say? Well, how about a dead celebrity? And Pakistan’s most iconic at that too!”  While arguably the campaign did not produce as much buzz as anticipated, it sure was noted for being another one (see No. 22) of the more daring ventures by Engro Foods’ marketing arm.


24. Omore Desi

Some accused it of being a shameless rip-off of Wall’s Badami. That’s arguable. What’s not arguable is the exceedingly fun and entertaining spots, with an infectious jingle by Mika. The outdoors and prints were catchy and vibrant if not the most original. Great entertainment value and catchy appeal for a brand that’s all about fun.

23. 7-Up Time

7-Up has always been about refreshing and simplifying. This year’s campaign with pretty boy Osman Khalid Butt and Anoushey Auditory-nightmare Ashraf Agha is a really fun and indeed refreshing break, with fun copy and a good amount of connect with the younger audience. The spots are also very off-beat and original in their visual presentation.


22. Omung Lassi Launch

Providing bitching fodder to the advertising and brand community early this year was the mostly derided launch of Omung Lassi. But some saw genius in marketing a traditional desi drink in the completely counter-intuitive themes of romance, love and kitschy poetry. The lassi has seemingly stopped frothing since the launch which many have assumed a tell-tale sign of the brand’s failure; but the launch nonetheless gave it the push and buzz it needed.

21. Cadbury Dairy Milk

Sticking true to its happiness theme, Cadbury came up with a grand campaign that is a emotional joyride with the brand tucked in at all the high-points. Sometimes it pays to play it by the numbers and it works for Dairy Milk. A smart aspect of the TVC is that it can be broken up nicely into smaller spots for various occassions such as cricket events and Christmas.


20. Ali Zafar Endorsing Nokia

While the developed world obsesses over Nokia’s looming demise, Nokia continues to hold strong on our side of the planet. Ali Zafar signed up as the company’s ambassador and appears in really fun and entertaining ads, for a product that focuses on hours of entertainment.


19. Yeh Pepsi Kis Ki Hogi?

Finally a campaign that put social media to more thoughtful use than asking fans their favourite colour of toothbrush. Pepsi created quite the viral buzz with Boom Boom and Tuk Tuk (was that contrast intentional?) battling over the last remaining Pepsi while marooned on an island. Inviting fans to decide who gets to quench their thirst through Facebook gave this campaign a touch authentic brand engagement. The outdoors and print was also really fun. Why it doesn’t appear higher up (or lower down, technically) in this list though is because of an abrupt and underwhelming finish that left most of the audience confused and uttering what the f***(s).


18. Dettol Jarra Aya

With germs being sick and tired of being typecast as vile villains in ads of everything from soap to detergent to bathroom cleaners to toothpaste and whatnot, Dettol came to the little fellas’ rescue by going for a different theme than germ warfare. Imagine that.  Picking up an old school rhyme is a smart move not only because it is catchy but also because it has the strong nostalgic hook for today’s moms, sure to grab attention.


17. Shoop Launch

With Knorr having made a killing of the instant noodles market, and Maggi faltering with horrible packaging redesigns and myriad entensions like Paratha powders, Shoop made an edgy statement with its vibrant visuals and energetic sound. Whether Shoop also goes the way of the Delve (read: fails) remains to be seen.


16. Engro Foods Corporate Campaign

Engro Foods has established itself as a major marketing force with its always-talked about campaigns and brands that, successful or not, don’t go unnoticed. This 14th August, Engro finally emerged from the back tab and proudly associated themselves with their brands while highlighting the desi connection with some patriotic overtones done right.


15. Tapal Family Mixture – Qubool Hai

Tapal was quick to capitalize on the short-lived super stardom of Khirad aka Mahira Khan with a campaign that used all the things that made her a sensation as Khirad – loving, caring, angelic, goody two shoes, etc –  and tying them in nicely with the brand attributes. The stong audio track helped carry the family/emotional theme.


14. Dawn Bread’s New Packaging

Operating in a very low engagement section where no one really cares what they’re stuffing in their toasters, Dawn Bread has taken a smart differentiating approach with the environment-friendly mantra which may give Dawn the double whammy – by premiumizing the brand in addition to refreshing the look and perception.


13. Gourmet

A relative novice to the national advertising scene, Gourmet partnered with Adcom to take their well-loved but decidedly regional brand to a new level. We are happy to report that Gourmet cleared that level with a warm, emotive and beautiful campaign featuring all their different product lines. It helps that the jingle is pure and charming.


12. Cerelac Chanda Mama

Cerelac often comes up with ads banking on the cuteness appeal and aww-inducing-potential of the babies. But with the advent of the phenomena of cute-baby-videos-abound-on-the-internet, Cerelac needed something more. Reimagining a classic Pakistani baby rhyme while peppering it with creepy subliminal brand consumption messages is marketing genius (just kidding, nothing remotely subliminal there)! The ad is catchy and fun, and appeals to moms and more.


11. Coke Kahani

Mehreen Jabbar is directing. ‘Nuff said.

But really, Coke continues to build on its association with food with a clear focus, and Coke Kahani is an interesting step in strengthening that association. The show’s story revolves around reviving a formerly prestigious restaurant while highlighting the lives and times of the contemporary Pakistani youth. Pop culture references like ManU/Patriotism are spot on, with The Desi Design’s friend Yasir Rana penning dialogues as assistant writer.


10. Rahat Bakers Rebranding to Tehzeeb

Twin Cities’ beloved Rahat Bakers faced a difficult situation which involved a confusing trademark status, numerous copycats spread across the province (Isloo, Pindi, Lahore and Wah Cantt to name a few cities) and therefore a never-ending battle in reminding consumers which was the real Rahat and which wasn’t.

Rahat finally took the problem head on and came up with a confident and proactive approach: a complete rebranding. Rebranding such a highly regarded and storied brand is no easy task- the field is replete with things that could go wrong: alienated audience and lost equity for starters.

But Rahat managed this situation with complete mastery and introduced a new brand that is every bit as warm, graceful and proud as the predecessor. Tehzeeb is a beautiful name, and the logo, especially the Urdu typography is outstanding in its simplicity and restraint. A win through and through.


9. Qmobile Noir Launch

One of this year’s most talked about launches – yes, a  lot of that was internet memes poking fun at it – Qmobile Noir successfully encapsulated the so-called aspirational appeal of the smartphone with a glamorous film and very visible outdoors. As mentioned earlier, internet comedians made fun of  the fact that it was a lavish ad for a phone priced at mere 8K, but in our opinion that only highlighted the main selling point.


8. Tiger Max

While kids these days will not settle for anything less than Hollywood manufactured cartoon characters, Tiger gets full credit for doing an insightful campaign where they build familiarity with a character, with relate-able kids doing stuff that all kids love. It is smart and it works. We have witnessed pre-schoolers prancing around their homes shouting ‘Mein hoon <insert name> Tiger’ and more.


7. Aquafina & the Humsafar Hysteria

Of all brands big and small, Aquafina was the most successful in making the most of the Humsafar Hysteria with perfect timing, appropriately melodramatic overtones, and a TVC version of Hareem (the couple’s daughter) to match. No wonder the entire female population of the country wanted to fill their glasses, jugs and bathtubs with Aquafina.


6. Pepsi – Made for Cricket

Returning from a trough of confused positioning and random campaigns with random musicians, Pepsi is back to the tried and tested field of cricket, and the good thing is that Pepsi has been successful. The super-awesome campaign dresses up our beloved cricket heroes in fun get-ups and tells amusing stories of their lives before cricket.

5. Timepey Launch

With the two branchless banking services launching back to back (the other being Mobilink’s Mobicash), Timepey by Zong and Askari Bank took a clear lead over their rival with an innovative mini-episode-drama approach with some of the country’s most respected acting powerhouses, including Meera!, and creating believable and relate-able situations that the target audience should definitely respond to.


4. Zara Sochiye

Geo Network’s public service campaign is a great mix of informative and emotive messages executed with panache. Highlighting the problems we face in the education sector with emotionally charged spots; and then imparting hope with inspiring success stories is how this well-thought campaign is successfully forcing people to think.


3. Sprite Mirchi

Sprite shifted away from its association to cricket – which every third Pakistani brand has – and adopted an incredibly original and fun approach; that of highlighting a sensation associated strongly with the product. With the genius insight came an equally amazing campaign that has us hooked!


2. Jubilee Insurance

One of this year’s surprise winners, Jubilee Insurance has demonstrated incredible marketing confidence by not only approving but wholeheartedly embracing a uber-creative concept, something that boring businesses like insurance aren’t exactly famous for. The Jubilee ads are witty, entertaining and crystal clear in their message. Bravo!

1. Servis – Shoes for Everyone

Surpise! Servis’ latest campaign is number one on our list! This breakthrough campaign came from a relatively unlikely source in that Servis isn’t counted among the most savvy marketers. Well that’s history obviously.  The Shoes for Everyone campaign is by far the best brand work this year and also some of the greatest ever. Kudos to the brand team and the folks at Red Communication Arts.


Have your own favorites? Don’t agree with our ranking? Let it all out in the comments!