A lot of brands did a lot of groudbreaking work last year as we reported in our Best of 2012 list. Some went viral with infectious jingles, some made the most of ongoing obssessions, and some pulled all the right emotional strings. But. For every great piece of branding, design and advertising, there were quite a few that missed the mark with their lack of audience connect, insight and/or simply incompetent execution.

And now is the time to look back and critique some of the work that missed the mark. Let’s make the most of now!

25. Head & Shoulders with Saifeena

Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan spend the better part of this ad bickering over whose idea it was to use Head & Shoulders while acting really badly. Increasingly, more and more Bollywood stars are appearing as endorsers locally, to the point where the exclusivity and appeal is eroding. This was one of 2012’s highlight examples of that trend.


24. Perk Zombies

It’s clear Perk wanted to do something completely – pardon the upcoming cliches – out of the box and clutter breaking. And yes, they did try. Points for that. But the Zombies/Michael Jackson/Ghost approach just doesn’t work, unfortunately. Neither is it amusing, scary, witty, or even sufficiently outrageous. Speaking of outrageous, Perk achieved at least that with their earlier gorilla campaign.

Over in India, Snickers is doing a much better job of the ‘Bhook har kisi ko badal deti hai’ (Hunger changes everyone) idea with the very witty and very amusing Heroine campaign. The point here is that it is not always mandatory to try something completely new; sometimes you can just borrow an idea and do something great out of it.


23. Chocolate Chip Mazay Ki Duniya

After the earth-shatteringly random ‘Super Mom’ campaign, Chocolate Chip came up with what could have been a very strong and long lasting idea of fantastical stories based around Chocolate Chip. But too bad, a messily executed TVC and blah copywriting  turned this into yet another forgettable ad.


22. Clearly Mein Dave Ke Saath Rehta Hoon

Oh, did we read that wrong? The billboards talk about people and their domestic partners right? No, you say? Oh well. The romanized Urdu was a stupid idea, but not more stupid than the colossal waste of hot property Fawad Khan in a badly timed, uninspired and impotent mini spot.


21. Omore Buzz

The younger lot loves people like Osman Khalid Butt and everyone hates Sahir Lodhi, right? Right.

We’re all for controversy and daring antics, of which Omore Buzz had no lack, but the Sahir Lodhi quip was simply in bad taste. The weakness and inadequacy of the idea was revealed with the follow-up Strawberry Bliss ad which had no Sahir Lodhi jokes nor any Osman Khalid Butt appeal to back it up, thereby falling flat on its face. We did like the ‘this silence is brought to you by Omore Buzz’ radio spots but, those were tiny glimmers of brilliance in an otherwise flawed concept.


20. Bakeri Zaeqe Khushion Ke

Bakeri suffers from an identity crisis. Having started over half a decade earlier as Lu’s attempt to counter the onslaught of arch-rival Peek Freans’ Sooper, it has now become a blanket brand offering myriad varieties, including limited editions such as Date cookies.

What that means is Bakeri doesn’t really have any strong sense of self; and Lu’s continued effort to market the range on the theme of Zaiqe Khushion Ke isn’t really working for two reasons:

  1. Dairy Milk has utterly and absolutely owned the Khushi+Meetha theme, so trying to fight for a piece of that pie is just waste of resources
  2. Biscuits are not becoming a anytime-munching-snack despite all attempts by biscuit makers to shove that concept down our mouths
The TVC and campaign visuals are also way too pretty for their own good. No matter how happy go lucky a girl is, she is not calmly biting away on her biscuits after smashing her car on the road.


19. Coke Reasons to Believe

It’s a pity that such a well intentioned idea was executed so messily that it earned a spot on this list. A ‘101 Reasons to Believe in Pakistan’ coffee table book sounds like a brilliant idea and might well have gone viral but, with reasons such as the one below, that would have taken a miracle to realize.

Image courtesy: Cafe Pyala


18. Wall’s Badami Strawberry

The original Badami was a runaway success both in terms of sales and its unabashedly desi and unstoppably infectious communication. But Khao Badami, Wow Strawberry is a severe letdown. Extending a successful product line makes perfect sense, but this effort just seems desperate. It doesn’t rhyme and it doesn’t make sense.


17. Bank AlFalah’s Smileys

Happiness seems to have become the hottest theme to sell your stuff on. And it works well for Coke and Cadbury and McDonald’s. But not for Bank Alfalah. The simleys are just goofy and a lame attempt to project Bank AlFalah as friendly and happy. The sub-par execution is also a shame.


16. Nargis Fakhri & Mobilink Internet

Nargis Fakhri and Ali Zafar in one ad together sounds like a really awesome recipe for publicity. But if only Mobilink put in more effort in the content of the ad, it could have been actually nice. What we have right now is a done to death idea and stereotypes galore.


15. ‘New’ Haleeb

2012 will go down in history as the year when Haleeb got rid of every last drop of brand equity built over the decades and entered a horrible new period of uphill struggles against fiery competition. Haleeb’s messed up rebirth with a rechristening to match might well be the last nail in the carton for the once glorious brand.

haleeb new packaging


14. Flutter

What started with an intriguing teaser featuring Adnan Siddiqui roaming around forbidden forests looking for some centaurs ended with, well, nothing. Flutter’s actual campaign was so damn underwhelming that we can’t even remember a single image from it. And the dead silence from Flutter ever since the launch only cements its credentials for this list.


13. Lipton Mega Daane

As we said earlier, Terrible naming. Horrible design. Bad copy. – What a mess. Apparently the TVC has not been uploaded anywhere on the internet so a follow-up ad with Meesha Shafi and Arif Lohar follows.


12. Sunsilk Mahira Khan

As opposed to the savvy marketing by Aquafina and Tapal that made the most of Mahira Khan while she was hot, Sunsilk’s attempt was a case of too little too late. Not only did the campaign miss the mark with its off timing, by when Mahira was a done thing having endorsed every second brand on the street. The campaign itself was overly stylized and therefore appeared stilted and unnatural. Some females also complained that the ‘Text Mahira Your Hair Problems’ Gimmick also disappeared without a trace as soon as it came.


11. Bonanza Rebrand

Joining Haleeb in the hall of shame of brands that shunned their history in favour of misguided attempts at reinvention is none other than Bonanza. The well known clothing retailer is adopting a new, generic identity that replaces its iconic red script wordmark. Also debuting is the cold and badly acted TVC which is a pain to watch, what with the wooden models and their aimless stares into space. This was a attempt at classy gone wrong.


10. Shah Rukh Khan & Lux

Honestly, we don’t know what to say here, as we have absolutely no effing clue what Lux is trying to do with this thing, apart from the fact that SRK and Katrina Kaif appeared together in this universally panned Bollywood flick around the time of this campaign.

Way to waste two of the world’s top endorsers with such a mindless piece of crap. If you figure out anything, don’t hesitate to use the contact page to let us know if we’re missing something here.


9. Mobilink’s 14th August Campaign

It’s almost as if the brief read ‘Make the most of the audience’s Patriotic and religious sentiments in 60 seconds, and do whatever it takes’. Mobilink’s 14th August campaign is lazy in its approach and idea, and offensive in the way it tries to manipulate the audiences’ sentiments.


8. Frooze Magic Hat

We have already documented our disdain for Omore’s irresponsible ad showing kids doing away with their school teachers with the magic of the ice cream. A complete and utter disregard for responsible advertising earns this a spot in our Worst of 2012 list.


7. Pepsodent & Shah Rukh Khan

Yeah sure, get the sub-continent’s biggest super star to endorse your brand and show it to us, but please don’t replace Pakistan’s name with ‘ iss mulk’ (this country) and expect to get away with it. While we honestly liked the interesting approach and found the campaign fun, the lack of effort put into adapting this for the local audience shows strongly and just comes off as half-assed and lazy. Here, take a look at the ad from across the border which was used almost just like it is, save for the Hindi script.


6. Ariel & Wasim Akram

2012 saw Wasim Akram endorsing everything from toilet soap to mobile phone to your neighborhood bakery. Ariel, not one to be left behind in this frenzy, wasted no time in getting the cricket icon on board and shooting a bizarrely athletic themed TVC, set in a  stadium for maximum effect. The models run around doing ridiculous stunts, and the aunties seemed bored out of their minds. The video is absolutely impossible to find on the internet so please make do with this one with the Desi SRK. The terribleness levels are more or less identical.


5. Allied Bank

It’s a shame Allied Bank’s brilliant idea and tagline are gracing(?) the Worst of 2012 list. We liked the ad and the tagline might well be the best we have ever heard for a financial institution, but the unabashedly Indian execution is just way too much to digest. The attempts to pass it off as Pakistani are deplorable and even insulting to the viewers’ intelligence.


4. Mobicash

Launching back to back with rival Zong’s own branchless banking service (Timepey), Mobicash’s launch campaign was an advanced stage case of the pretty-perfect-plague. The TVC is nauseatingly pretty and has an odd exotic feel, which is stupid because it is a local service aimed for the masses. The print and outdoor is butt ugly. The tagline, Zaban Ka Pakka is also lost on us and doesn’t seem particularly relevant in the context. Even the name Mobicash is not sufficiently unique and at the time of launch you would be pressed hard to find the actual Mobicash website amid a sea of identically-named services around the world.


3. Olper’s Mera Intikhab

Olper’s has quickly established itself as a major household name in Pakistan and has built great equity for its trend-setting Ramazan campaigns, something that normal (non-advertising/branding) people actually look forward to.

This time however, the most eloquent we can say about Olper’s Mera Intikhab campaign is this: What the F***. Like really. What WAS that? And if you want proof of how badly Olper’s has missed the mark with its audience, just ask any normal Pakistani woman and she’ll tell you what being a woman is all about. Rest assured, ‘intikhab karna’ won’t be one of those.


2. Oppa Zong Style

We admit we actually kind of like this silly thing; but more and more people seem to consider this desi spoof of a viral internet sensation simply atrocious. Cheap, horrible and retarded  are common adjectives used to describe feelings towards this attempt from Zong to capitalize on a viral idea, after Ufone successfully wooed Wadera Ka Beta guy Ali Gul for a cricket-themed promotion. Oppa Zong Style scores low on our chart because when this ad released the general masses were not sufficiently familiar with the original so for them it was just annoying noise, while those who did know about the original brushed this off as just a cheap, distasteful stunt.


1. The Continued Existence of Glow By Warid

Glow by Warid earns the dubious distinction of the Bottom Spot on our Worst of 2012 list on pure merit. Which other brand has managed to release 3 terrible campaigns back to back in one calendar year? (That’s one every quarter).

Starting with the heavily Airtel-inspired but increasingly wannabe Dosti Ke Rung song that fell flat on its face to no one’s surprise, Glow outdid itself with a more functional package-centric campaign that we criticized for sending out a wrong message. To end the year on an even lower note if that’s possible, Glow released this Teen Ka Tarka campaign that at first glance actually kinda doesn’t suck (achievement!), but when you realize that the tune is suspiciously similar to British singer Mika’s 2007 song, it loses its charm.

We’re surpised Glow by Warid is still around.


Have your own hate-list? Don’t agree with ours? Let it all out in the comments!