Dearth of Celebrities in Pakistan

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Entertainment is what the majority seeks. And advertising  in a way is serving the purpose of providing this entertainment to its viewers. Perhaps this is why the quality and concepts of the Pakistani advertising have taken a turn over the years. And thus it has become very entertainment centric.

But one must not forget that the midbreaks on most of the channels are far longer today even with capping and which ultimately makes zipping and zapping one of the common TV viewing habits.  And so viewers are bound to flip channels and come across ads everywhere. If the ad is interesting enough they hold on and watch it. If it sucks they move on.  So in one way or the other,  entertainment it is again.

Agreed we do have quite a lot of good advertising taking place. Big budgets, celebrity power, some good song in the background, pretty locations, a touch of humor and that would pretty much do the job. In this cluttered environment, the ads that really do leave an impact do have a bit of all these elements.  But are they remembered for a long time is a question mark. Everything is too temporary and short lived and that’s the way everyone wants things to be.  And innovation too is quite a cliched term as  nothing really is that new anyway.

The only thing that does ring the bell is that even if we do have amazing ideas and will keep coming up with better and nicer creatives in times ahead – are we using the right faces in our ads? The fact of the matter is that we do have quite a limited options left when it comes to choosing local faces, but we go on picking the same because we have no other choice. Again a temporary solution, which may not be the best thing to do.


Our celebrity list whom the viewers do prefer is still not that long – Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Iman Ali, Vaneeza Ahmad, a couple of cricketers and bands like JAL and Call. And then a few others too just to fill the gap. Atif Aslam prefers Clear Men; Ali Zafar sings and dances in LG, Telenor and Tarang ads (same stuff but different brands); Vaneeza will be the super model for the next 40 years so yeah we have no other choice and Iman Ali is the local  face of a few renowned Unilever brands so she too we shall see. And when you have to be slightly out of the league then we can see a bit of Shaan or Rameez Raja perhaps in some ads.  Again not new but may be different.


We do not have a never ending list of celebrities as is the case in India where the actors and actresses are loved  when they appear  in commercials – Aamir Khan in Coke and Samsung commercials, Juhi Chawla with Kurkure,  Abhishek Baachan in the Idea Ad or Dhoni in Pepsi Ads.  Not that their celebrities don’t go overboard with appearing in commercials but there the presence of a star in an ad is remembered. And people start believing in the brand because of the brand ambassador.

While our story is that most of our actresses only fit absolutely well with brands like Tarang. Or our we just as good as bringing Amanat Ali and Annie together in Telenor Talkshawk ads to get the youth’s attention and then we will wait for many more years for someone new to come?  Does it mean we shall be stuck with the same stuff forever? Or exploring the new and fresher face is something too risky, time-consuming and painful for advertisers?  And if all of it falls in the circle of entertainment are we not even worthy of better and new entertainment or do we prefer to be fooled for times to come?


Writer, Blogger, Copywriter & Animal Rights Activist. MBA in Marketing Author of "Pakistani Media: The Way Things Are" and Co-author of "If Mortals Had Been Immortals and Other Short Stories"

  • Wudge

    And the funniest thing is, that some of these celebs are actually ‘for sale’…one leading actor decides to endorse two competing packaged milk brands with non-significant time difference, the leading old super model endorses two soaps…Ali Azmat sang the Paktel song ‘dil tou ek hai’ and endorsed Mobilink…and the list goes on…even Aamir Khan was a Pepsi brand ambassador before becoming a turncoat Coke model.

  • Sarosh Waiz

    Very well said Wudge. I still don’t know why the brands only want to leverage on the popularity of celebrities in building brand equities. Agreed that it can act as a catalyst to uplift a brand’s image, but aren’t these are just shortcuts to achieve the goals? It’s like hanging on to someone and telling them to carry us up the cliff please?

  • Waqas Saeed

    Just to add on to the first comment, recently we saw SRK change loyalties and move to Sprite (the coca-cola company) from Pepsi only because Sprite agreed to sponsor his IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders. Such shifts only go on to dilute the concerned brands (this includes both the old and the new brand being endorsed by the celebrity)image/positioning in the consumers mind.

  • Sarosh Waiz

    Exactly! Well said Waqas!

  • Shayan Ahmed

    we need younger models for sure…man vaneeza, iman and others are in their 30s now, and even though they r good, they should retire!!! what we also lack are good advertising concepts…i think companies and ad agencies underestimate the intellect of the general public…

  • Zaira Rahman

    Wudge: Very vallid point on how celebrities appear in campaigns of the same category but different brands. I guess that too happens because actually we seriously don’t have many options to pick and choose models.

    Waqas & Wudge: On Indian ambassadors like I said that they do get overboard with appearing in commercials…some of the big names likes SRK, Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachan are ready to appear in almost any commercial.

    Where we praise Indians on so many fronts,we should not expect much in certain things because at the end of the day they are the same people who perform in weddings and charge for their performances. And this business flourishes big time as well. The only difference is that they have a huge list of stars and they are not afraid to bring in new faces as well besides making use of celebrities.

    Shayan: I guess Pakistan would rank very top in the list of countries with the oldest ramp and super models. Whenever I watch interviews of international models they always say a model’s career is max 4-5 years and then newer faces are needed. That’s how things work out globally I believe.

    Thanks everyone for all your comments 🙂

  • Sarosh Waiz

    Thats very true Shayan! At times the companies just want to leverage the celebrities name to help make their brand stand out. I believe these are shortcuts, which is definitely are okay to use, but over-doing them will kill the brand in the longer run in my opinion. And the ad concepts are just use-less sometimes on a generic basis.. but as far as testing the intellect of the general public is concerned, I guess there is a small percentage of the Pakistani population who could understand conceptual ads… but the masses are still more responsive towards functional copies… depends on the nature of brand really

  • Sarosh Waiz

    Yes Zaira… Pakistan is a great country … we give respect to old-aged people in our country … so why shouldn’t old-aged celebrities get their share?

  • Zaira Rahman

    But their share is already quite huge now I guess 🙂 Others too must get a chance. Change is definitely needed.

    The wise and smart ones always make the exit gracefully at the right time.

  • Sarosh Waiz

    Yes. The Pakistani celebrities are more like PIA air hostesses, newscasters on PTV and Film Stars of Pakistan. Extreme loyalists who love their jobs.

  • Zaira Rahman

    Concept of improvement and growth is missing seriously then in their lives…