Amid all the upheaval our country is witnessing on frontiers more than one, it’s that time of the year again. When aunties feast, non-aunties retreat, and uncles forfeit. Their wallets. Specimens of the Pakistani female can reliably be witnessed gushing over prints both flowery and angular, colorful and staid, traditional and edgy, or whatever else the brand dishes out. Like every year, we are again witnessing the unabated tide of fabric wares from every single Shehla, Rizwana and Bashir Ahmed you know. Every which way you look, you find one more person ‘doing’ a lawn collection.

Last year there were some standout lawnches (pardon the cheesiness!) and some that were completely blah. Asim Jofa, Gul Ahmed and Firdous, among a dozen others, made a mark with their campaigns. This year also has its winners and losers; Sana Safinaz continues their classy reign and employ Neha in all her sultry glory, Khaadi stands out with its designy and pattern goodness. Gul Ahmed is the usual classy and elegant, magazine cover feel.

Firdous, who wowed last year with their Sonam Kapoor ads, are keeping a very low profile this time. Nadia Hussain thankfully didn’t get too much time off her motherly duties and we had one less lawn line to digest. Vinny is still keeping everyone waiting with her Coming Soon billboards (at the time of writing).

One standout this year has been Al Karam. Their simple and elegant brand imagery does exactly what it should: put the focus on the brand identity instead of relying too much on celebrity faces or psychedelic prints. Deepak Perwani’s campaign made good use of his name with the campaign line ‘Just Deepak’.

Kayseria did an interesting ‘Summer Journey’ campaign with some catchy visuals. Unfortunately LSM also came up with the exact same campaign line for their own offering. And sadly for Lakhani/Zunuj/LSM, the mini controversy that erupted out of this similarity was about the highest point in their otherwise lackluster campaign.

Asim Jofa and Iman Ali now seem formulaic, forced and tired. I Wear Asim Jofa, you say? Well, good for you, now scurry off. Ittehad did a commendable job of wasting money on a Priyanka Chopra-starring campaign that went virtually unnoticed. We were dumbfounded by the absurdity of the Nishat TVC. We honestly found it exceptionally retarded.

One thing that nags us is the innate disposability of lawn and with that the wastage of the immense amounts of creativity and hard work once the lawn season is over or new designs are launched – whichever happens first. You see, every lawn line launches with at least 10 designs. And those steroid-powered folks at Gul Ahmed produce no less than 100 designs per collection. Then there are the 2nd Editions and Summer Specials. So that’s an awful lot of designs for a limited-use, disposable product wont you say?

In our not so humble opinion, the Top 5 Lawn Campaigns of 2013:

  • Nargis Fakhri endorsing Elan

  • Al Karam’s simple and to the point campaign

  • Deepak Perwani’s memorable Just Deepak billboard

  • Sana Safinaz’s standard glitz and glam

  • Kayseria’s willingness to do something different and fun

For those who see, these annual lawn wars are a real world class in marketing and branding- far removed from the confines of the lecture halls and Kotler’s P’s and Ries’ immutable laws. Here you see how using imported celeb power works for one brand while for the other it falls flat. Here you see how the varied use of your logo and your name differentiates a memorable campaign from one less so. Here you see how not to stretch a successful campaign idea beyond its range.

These annual wars also bring forward interesting questions: You wonder if having Nargis Fakhri on your billboard makes people buy your lawn? Or is it the colors and design that seal the deal? Or does nothing top fabric quality when it comes to dishing out the cash? Have your say.

by Najwat Rehman