5 most memorable Pakistani adverts from yesteryear

The 80’s were a heady time for humanity as a whole. From bad haircuts to wearing those atrocious leggings worn out in public. Not very many people can look back on that decade and think ‘ job well done’. And neither can advertisers.

Ludicrous as they are, they still bring back fond memories of Jubilee chocolates and other old timey stuff. These are from before the innumerable private T.V. channels cluttered the airwaves, we had PTV, and we liked it God dammit!

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# 5 – Diamond Supreme Foam

Forget lullabys, bedtime routines, nightcaps and bedtime baths! The one way to get kids to sleep was to make them do kaam, kaam, kaam! Yes, child labour is the key to all mothers who struggle with putting their little monsters to sleep. If only all work environment was so child friendly, hell we’d have a nation of kids who’d never go to school (oh but we already have that!).

Compounded with this strategy, is a jingle that haunted us kids throughout our 90’s no matter what we did. In school teachers insisted on singing “Kaam, Kaam, Kaam” to motivate us to learn our jumlay and ilfaaz maaney; at home our maids tried to get us to eat bhindi by singing “Kaam, Kaam, Kaam” as if eating was a chore; at night our parents sent us to off to bed not with a goodnight kiss but by singing “Jab Kaam sey thak jaien, tau khoob karey araam”.

What’s interesting in this foam ad, is that after kaam,kaam, kaam we see a child go to sleep. No, that’s not the interesting part. The poor kid, after all that slogging, is sent off to sleep on a bed that consists of a mattress… just a mattress. No bed sheet, pillow or duvet. But given that this is a third world country one ought to be grateful for small mercies and a mattress, especially a Diamond Supreme Foam, one is quite a luxury.

This luxury item ad specifically writes out fun facts for you, just in case the salesman at Salman Azeem Foam Centre forgets to mention them, and these include:

1. Salman Azeem Foam Centre – in case you were unable to focus on the numbers because you were trying to memorise the lyrics here are the details, once again!
2. No.1 Quality foam – you don’t want to give your daughter third rate stuff in her dowry now do you?
3. 30 years of Excellence – they know what they’re talking about!
4. Diamond, The largest selling foam in Pakistan – what can I say, diamonds are forever!
5. Comfortable – If you want babies, then you know you need something that helps *wink, wink*
6. Reliable – so you know it’ll always be there when you come home.
7. Child-friendly – kids can actually jump on this foam as opposed to other concrete foams!


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# 4 – Dentonic

This ad is almost iconic because the rise of the planet of the apes was predicted right here by Dentonic peeps. After all it concerns a monkey pulling a stunt on a dud of a man.

The ad itself is promoting a dental polishing product but also advocates animal abuse and a severe lack of traffic sense. But then again, how often does a billboard cause traffic to stop? A cartoon less than 20 seconds remains within the hearts and minds of an entire generation not because of the hygiene it promoted – “Dentonic, twice a day, especially before going to bed” – but because of the concept of promoting a product via a cartoon. Today we have many ads that include cartoons but alas alack! They consist of real human beings rather than a mischievous monkey. Yes, Pakistanis have really come a long way.

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# 3 – Naz Pan Masala

Only can the taste and smell of a pan masala, sorry Naz pan masala, can be described as “pyari” (pretty). What is even more thrilling is that back in the late 80s the concept of love and romance was so simple. To make sure you had a man literally eating out of your palm, according to this ad, all you needed was to ask for the secret which is in the woman’s muthee, in a slightly beseeching tone “Bata do naa”… and all together now… Naz Pan Masala! Naz Pan Masala!

And voila! You have the perfect picnic complete with sunshine and a smiling, Naz-pan-masala chomping hero.

And because this delicacy is “sab ko pasand” lets all sing together one more “Meri muthee mei band hai kya… bata do naa… Naz pan masala! Naz pan masala! Naz pan masala! Naz pan masalaaa!”

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# 2 – Gillette

The scriptwriter of this ad ought to be given an award for originality. So the dad walks into the son, who happens to be in the bathroom… shaving. The dad asks the son if he’s shaving to which the son goes into a semi-orgasmic state talking about, not his shaving experience, but the Gillette Blue II razor. In fact he’s so excited by this new brand that he runs out of words to express his sheer joy and delight and resorts to… noises. Yes, noises.

Rolling his eyes at his son’s excitement (it’s been a while for the old man), the dad retreats. But obviously the temptation of this delicious delight is too much and the next day we see the day with the razor in hand, having treated himself to this newfound pleasure. But poor fellow, just as he’s expressing his joy, the son walks in cutting short his pleasure.

Moral of the ad: never walk into someone when they’re in the bathroom. And especially when they’re in there with the Gillette Blue II razor.

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# 1 – Morven Gold

Never say Pakistanis are not creative! Appreciating the fact that most of our most popular ads concern skin whitening or herbal products that clear one’s complexion to snare a good looking husband, this ad took aesthetic appeal to a whole new level.

Using two primary colours, red and yellow, this ad was eye catching and bright without any of the usual trying-too-hard to enetertain factors. And unlike other ads, there was no cheesy catch line nor a heavily made up doll with too much powder on her face trying to convince you to buy her product so you could look as pretty as her. But what was most touching was that the producers took it upon themselves to do what no motto, national anthem, flag, politician, military macho man or even civilian could do in Pakistan – spread unity via a tune aptly named “Rhythm of Unity”. Pak Sar Zameen can take a hike!

So, bright colours, choreographed dance, national monuments and lively folk music with the aim of uniting all Pakistanis, this HAS to be a tourist ad promoting Pakistan right? Nope. Okay so it’s an ad for a concert coming up? Nope. Okay the image of the horse dancing must have something to do with animal rights? Err… this IS Pakistan, so NO.

Then what was the ad about? Cigarettes.

Except in the entire ad there’s no cigarettes to be seen. Even the horse isn’t smoking! The only way we know is when all our brightly clad dancers come together under a banner that spells it out in English “MORVEN GOLD”. Was the ad effective? Considering less than 10% of the population can read or write English, I’m thinking it would have been put to better use as a tourist trap.

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Tags: , ,

Categories: Celebrities, Movies & TV

Author:Mehr F Husain

Mehr F Husain was Features Editor of The Friday Times. She lives out of a suitcase.

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8 Comments on “5 most memorable Pakistani adverts from yesteryear”

  1. Saira Agha
    August 13, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    Well written.

  2. July 5, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Dude, in the Gillette ad he’s not making random noises. In his happiness hes trying to “sing” the opening strains of beethovens 5th symphony!

  3. RASHID QADEER
    May 28, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    brings back the good old days! terrific

  4. Qudsia
    September 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    You forgot the anti-cigarette campaign ad featuring wasim akram!!! Wasim bhai, ap thaktey nahi hain? Nahi mein cigarette nahi peeta!

    • Maliha
      September 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      yeah that one was pretty awesome 😛

  5. Munawar
    September 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I remember em all except for the morven gold one. great article, reminded me of the good old 90s

  6. Qazi Mairaj
    September 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    ahahhahaaa.. very nicely written the description abt the ads…

  7. rumi
    September 2, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    hehehehehe….brings back the good old days! terrific

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