Are you a spoilt woman who is not ashamed to say it? If that description is fitting, then Asim Jofa’s newest billboards are all about you. If you (like us) were bewildered by the bizarre slogans “Why drive when I’m driven?” and “Why wait when I’m waited upon?” that have mushroomed around the city, then wonder no more. We got the brains behind the campaign to enlighten us about the ads that have been the centre of ridicule on social media forums.
“Are you going to rip it to shreds?” asked Muzaffar Manghi, General Manager at Red Communication Arts, the small agency that designed Asim Jofa’s latest lawn billboards. Surprisingly, as he talked about the ad, Manghi was more excited that his creation has become an internet sensation, than defensive about the flak. “For this campaign, we spoke to women who spend s**t loads of money — and believe it or not, they gave us these quotes that you see up on the billboards.” According to Manghi, this mentality of unapologetic showiness is not just a peculiarity of the nouveau riche; this woman exists — in hordes large enough to grab the last piece of packaged lawn off the shelf. “People with old money are shoda (ostentatious) too. I know a girl who chose to attend a small gathering in Lahore wearing heavily embellished designer lawn just to make a statement.”
Like the woman in Asim Jofa’s lawn ads, Manghi is unapologetic. “Asim wanted to celebrate his consumer. These women like to indulge themselves and are shamelessly honest about it. This is the Asim Jofa mindset.”
With all this animated chatter about his campaign, it is imperative we tell you who the man is. His real name is Mohammad Asim; being a certified jewelry designer, the alias ‘Jofa’ comes from the tagline ‘Jewelry of Asim’. His most recent billboards are a precursor to his upcoming collection for Eid and Ramazan, which will be a tad pricier than his average lawn jora which costs up to Rs6,000. Asim says the lady on his billboard is a woman with a distinct attitude. “This is a woman who knows exactly what she wants,” he said several times during our conversation. “Honestly, being Asim Jofa, I eat at regular restaurants. I eat at fancy restaurants in New York but I also eat here at, say, Mcdonalds,” he added, drawing a distinction between himself and his consumer.
“My lawn is probably the most expensive — more than Sana Safinaz lawn. It is a luxury,” he said, as he explained why a product like lawn is being advertised as a symbol of lavishness. At the end, Asim confirmed what we all know already: the campaign was designed to get attention.
“The fact that you’re asking me what I think says enough,” said Deepak Perwani, another amongst the handful of designers who have joined the lawn bandwagon. While Perwani’s lawn billboards had the sultry Sara Loren aka Mona Lizza staring seductively into the camera, Asim’s billboards have replaced model/actor Iman Ali (the previous face of Asim Jofa lawn) with silhouettes. “It’s a teaser for his product,” said Perwani who insisted that the campaign was fabulous. “Hats off to Asim Jofa for getting the attention, it’s a pretty innovative campaign.” Perwani’s public show of solidarity with Asim shouldn’t surprise you; you’ll rarely hear someone from the fashion circle openly lambasting a peer — the talons usually come out in private.
In the words of Fareshteh Aslam, the Brands and External Communications Manager at Unilever Pakistan, “It’s visible and irritatingly consistent. It is asking to be noticed and you can’t miss it — it’s a success!”
Don’t be disappointed yet. We managed to find someone who isn’t afraid to say it like it is. “I saw the billboard in the Gizri area… it makes no sense,” said Kamal Mir, the Executive Creative Director at Prestige/Grey Group in a matter-of-fact tone. “What’s he trying to achieve? The ads now have silhouettes wearing Western clothes, which says nothing about the product,” added Mir, nonplussed. “Sometimes, negative publicity is great because you can be the talk of the town and people will know who you are. But that makes sense for a new person. This is just so abstract.”
The tongues can continue to wag; we can make fun of it and even let our creativity loose by coming up with our own mystifying slogans, but like any advertiser’s goal, the Asim Jofa lawn campaign got people talking. Kudos to them!
Published In The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2012.
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