Brand Ambassadors – Loyalties Down the Drains

By  |  13 Comments

30secThere is no denial that clever selection of brand ambassadors can really do wonders for some brands. For instance many people recall Abhishek Bachchan for Motorola and IDEA campaigns; Aamir Khan for Samsung and Coca Cola. Just like once upon a time, we associated Imran Khan with the classic Pepsi commercial.



We keep discussing about cellular networks, one campaign after the other, humor or no humor, viral or regular marketing, with or without robots, songs or no songs…one way or the other we have talked a lot about them. So I was wondering why hasn’t anyone penned down anything about the recent development.



Coming back to brand ambassadors, it would be great to know what everyone’s view is on Ali Zafar who is now proudly coming in a Mobilink ad after years of association with Telenor. While, our group of colleagues and friends talked that Telenor had built a strong link with Ali Zafar over this time with him doing the Talk Shawk moves and songs. And it is quite true that when we think of Telenor – Ali Zafar’s is the name that comes to our mind.



YouTube Preview Image



But, at this point in time the Mobilink ad is on air everywhere. And the way, Ali Zafar has been introduced in the commercial with him as an employee coming from another company and now his number has changed to Mobilink is nothing but only a question mark on Ali Zafar’s own credibility.



A colleague of mine told us after coming back from Lahore that he saw one billboard with Ali Zafar in Telenor ad and then just as he drove further he came across Ali Zafar promoting Mobilink and Jazz. It was more like a joke.



Just a few days ago Lays campaign sort of backfired for them by making use of Junaid Jamshed (who is popularly mentioned as jaali maulvi in most group/blog/forum discussions) and announcing Lays as halal and highlighting the issue to even those who were not aware of it.



And now this move of Ali Zafar. Obviously, money is one aspect of it all. But one thing’s for sure the word credibility is miles away from Ali Zafar.

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"

  • Umer Tanveer

    I dont believe brand loyalty exists amongst brand ambassadors until its clearly mentioned in the contract that the signed person cannot endorse competitors product or service. Aishwarya Rai and Amir Khan have both endorsed the competing beverages so I see no point in blaming Ali Zafar for it. Even Brad Pitt endorsed Rolex and Tag Heuer side by side.

    Lays needing to prove to their consumers that the product is 100% halal which they did successfully by using Junaid Jamshed and please dont accuse JJ, he may be or may be not a jaali mulla but one thing is for sure that he is an inspiration for millions and those millions will get offended by hearing such comments.

  • Irshad Ahmed

    I completely agree because the question is that what brand ambassador’s are for? Its all fan following. If I like some superstar and use the brand that he uses and next day he is asking me to change it then it is certainly doubtful. And the things get even critical when the same superstar is asking his fan to use two different brands of same category. It is ridiculous. We heard that Ali Zafar’s contract was expired with telenor and they no more wanted to renew it but if that’s the case then why the ads of telenor are still having Ali Zafar. The both ads are running side by side….. this really is gonna affect Ali’s image.

  • Zaira Rahman

    Umer: I am sure it all depends on the terms and conditions of contracts. But Aamir Khan and Aiswarya Rai didn’t appear in the competing brands at the same time or did they?

    I have nothing against JJ 🙂 this jaali mullah term is mentioned in 100s of blogs and group discussions, which I have mentioned in the post itself. The point was only to highlight that a major chunk of advertisers/media people hold the view that selecting Junaid Jamshed was not the right decision.

    Irshad: I know both the ads are running together which is weird and confusing. Who is actually benefitting the most from this entire thing – Ali Zafar or Telenor or Mobilink?

  • Saad

    If I were to quote any respected literature on the definition of Brand Ambassador – the core directional converges pins at “Representative that best potrays your brand”.

    Even a superficial analysis of the aforementioned definition would reflect the interesting anomaly whereby any bearing to time remains elusive for the subject under question.

    Ali Zafar lived up to the definition of a brand ambassador immaculately for as long as he was getting ‘rewarded’ for it. The latest battle in the rather futile and consumer wrath igniting advertisement war is certainly worth a mention not only due to the fluid nature of any BA’s loyalty in Pakistan (Vaneeza saluting beauty with LUX for years till Dettol became the better ‘paid’ first choice – does anyone know that she was Safeguard brand ambassador as well back in 90s!) but also due to the astute execution of driving the message home!

    While Ali Zafar would continue to give a million dollar smile on Telenor shop sign boards, danglers, wobblers, posters and buntings – for as long as he was paid (time bounded BA he is!)- Mobilink has hit Bull’s eye by eroding all that investment of time and money by a single GRP laden plan and a refreshingly innovative copy (unlike the dance and song platforms that served to reflect the bad taste of marketing and creatives).

    Mobilink has won my applause for cracking the challenging introduction of the new brand ambassador in a manner befittng to destroy Telenor’s effort of thriving on firmly grounded equity (finally we were entertained to someone not riding on cheap tactics of revenue sucking promotions and price offs).

    While Ali Zafar has played his cards – These shall serve as the last cards he played, for any sane company would never entertain such a sudden flip that negated all past relationships and diluted icon’s credibility instead. Ali – beware for you would never qualify for the big bet anymore.

    Summing up: Good execution mobilink – Heavy price paid Telenor – Last Telco stunt Ali

  • Umer Tanveer

    @ Zaira: Welcome to the 21st century, its a world of materialism and capitalism where every wants to progress even if its at the cost of someones head. Brand loyalities doesnt exist these days. Everyone is in a race to become richer and richer therefore such intrinsic things are crushed under the burden of desire, greed and lust. Even if Aishwarya and Amir didnt appear at the same time in Pepsi and Coke commercials, had they been brand loyal or loyal to the contract, they surely would’ve avoided the COKE commercials. Even Micheal Owen signed for Manchester United after serving Liverpool for so many years. All I am saying is the most important thing in this world is your own self and all other things follow that. Love it or like it but thats the truth i am afraid.

    At JJ, I am afraid its irresponsibility on your part to pass on rumours which might be offensive to the person and his followers.

  • Basit

    Personally speaking it’s not the credibility of ali zafar whom we or mobilink should care about. I have been personally organizing events and during this time I have been dealing with a lot of companies regarding sponsorship. And during this tenor I noticed that the most unprofessional people are the one who are running the so called Professional field. I know how much time the companies take to make their payments and how much do I have to run after the companies. And at a spur of a moment they change their mind of not showing up; regardless of how much losses does the organizers make. So if we don’t know the exact picture or the real story we can never be sure on whatever we say.
    My point over here is that what if Ali Zafar has been forced to leave Telenor because of the unprofessional attitude these big guns of the companies carry. I can surely say that Ali Zafar, during his association with Telenor, must have received millions of offers from various companies but we never saw him indulging in brands which can be offensive to Telenor. There must have been something wrong with the company in terms of dealing with their brand ambassador.
    I can see that now it’s only the telecom sector that is spending heavily on its marketing campaign and most of our celebrities have started to be a brand ambassador for the telecom industry. So I don’t see it wrong for ali zafar to move to mobilink.

  • Umer Tanveer
  • huda

    Ali Zafar has done the most stupid thing anyone can ever do.. he has lost his dignity, and now to me he is just like Sheikh Rasheed.. LOYALTY DOWN THE DRAINS: true true true…. and BRAND ROYALTY is on, abb se jazz on.. never expected this from ali zafar !

  • sarwan

    I would have been more comfortable had Telenor actually kicked Ali Zafar out … but that does not seem to be the case. Why would a company who has (potentially) fired a brand ambassador still carry his face in the Billboards, TVCs, website, promotional material etc. Clearly the ‘company’ was kept in the dark here. With the latest campaign just launched a few weeks ago, I believe either the contract was still effective or it was to be renewed (my guess) which may have not fallen through and thus Ali Zafar deflected to the other company. (Again, i am just guessing here). If this was the case, Mobilink must have been in close contact with Ali Zafar or his managers to know that he is available OR Ali Zafar or his managers went straight to the competition the moment anything went wrong with Telenor. Unethical in both cases in my books.

    Either way, with the way he went to the competitor, appeared in a ad with a story line that clearly went against the previous employer was absolutely undignified of him. Unethical (again) goes without saying.

    Having said that, the way Mobilink handled the Ali Zafar launch is commendable. The Creative Idea and the Execution were brilliantly handled and I am sure they must have turned the brains at Telenor inside out.

    Just to add in the end, my friends in the Advertising Industry tell me that Ali is a very high maintenance ‘resource’, he has lots of ‘nakhras’ as they put it.

  • Irshad Ahmed

    Zaira Rahman: I don’t know who is benefiting probably Mobilink but what I was saying is that Ali’s image is at stake now.

  • Omar

    From what I know of this, Telenor had been trying to get rid of Ali Zafar for a while now. They were trying to move him away from the brand.

    I guess both Ali Zafar and Telenor called it quits eventually. As far as his credibility is concerned, I don’t think this is too big of an issue as he has made his place in the community, besides these things happen, people move away…Cindy Crawford got old and was replaced and now she is a brand ambassador for Omega.

    Everyone wants their brand to be on top, I don’t think Mobilink got a lot of headway with Shan being the brand ambassador for Indigo so why not Ali Zafae this time around?

  • Maha

    I didn’t get the obsession following Ali’s brand change.I thought it was a a smart move on Ali’s part- Telenor’s ads are better, but seriously, isn’t 3 years loooong enough for a telecom service? Pakistan me to aam log hi itne aram se line badal lete hain. Ali’s contract ended. He’s a guy who believes in re-invention and new things, instead of keeping with the old stuff. Plus Telenor had a big management shift. Ali said he wasn’t comfortable with the new management- which I think can be roughly translated to either the new mgmnt weren’t supporting his nakhras, or that he wasn’t getting as much out of them as he wanted to.
    Did anyone see how much backing and support Ali has received in his concerts and album lauch, from Mobilink? I think Telenor might not be offering such terms, or atleast, to such extent.
    People love to twist the story, damn the facts.

  • Maha

    “Aishwarya Rai and Amir Khan have both endorsed the competing beverages so I see no point in blaming Ali Zafar for it. Even Brad Pitt endorsed Rolex and Tag Heuer side by side.”
    I think it hasn’t been seen before in Pakistan- which is why it garnered such a huge reaction.