Be it a product or service for men, women or both, advertisers around the globe focus on using attractive people in ad campaigns to sell everything from men’s shaving cream to cell phone networks.
In Pakistan, we have seen a similar trend of local and Bollywood celebrities endorsing our products, with Fahad Hussayn lawn being the latest to have brought in a big name like Priyanka Chopra. But in this atmosphere, there are some in the lawn business who prefer not to use female models to endorse their brands.
J. Lawn by Junaid Jamshed, Almirah Lawn and AlKaram Textiles have used logos in promotional campaigns this year instead of models or brand ambassadors. Last year, cricketer Shahid Afridi, who launched his first collection Widyaan also did something similar. While female models donned his outfits, they strategically covered their faces with dupattas and no extra skin was shown.
“When we first started, we decided our transactions would keep the spirit of Islam alive — we want to follow its basic teachings to formulate our business dealings,” says Nadir Khan, customer relations manager at J. Lawn. “I personally feel no Muslim would disagree with that; we aren’t required to show a semi-dressed woman in our ads.” Last year, J. Lawn used umbrellas designed to showcase its lawn prints on billboards, and has used ships with printed sails this year.
Khan even said that several gentlemen who attended the J. Lawn exhibition this year thanked the organisers for their vision. “They appreciated our efforts in bringing forth a lawn collection without using images of their daughters and daughters-in-law on billboards,” he says, adding the brand will continue with this tradition as they are here to set an example. “People say the fashion industry is like this and like that but it’s important to know that if you really want to, you can move fashion forward the right way as well.”
Several designers have asked Bollywood actors to endorse their brands and when asked whether this would give them an edge over brands that don’t use them, Khan says, “We’ve been able to market our product without using any Bollywood names.” He feels the positive response shows that they don’t need women on their billboards.
AlKaram, a textile giant in the country, unveiled its collection Allure this season and its CEO Abid Umer says the brand sees things a little differently. “This year we are using different mediums to advertise Allure; in our print ads we have used models’ images,” Umer continues. “But billboards are statistically only noticed for three seconds in moving traffic, so we have used bold font to attract attention.” They have also used reflective ink so the billboards don’t go unnoticed at night.
Almirah Lawn’s creative design head, Waqas Ahmed, admits the label has used a similar strategy as J. Lawn. “We are a sister organisation of J. Lawn so we too, follow the basic principles they have set,” he says, adding that they haven’t used any images of women on their billboards. “But our catalogue does contain a mannequin wearing an outfit — a headless mannequin.”
One Twitter user @sabizak_ posted about singer-turned-entrepreneur Junaid Jamshed’s campaign, saying, “I love the JJ ads. But only because they stand out from all the others.”
Lawn lover Fareeha Kaiser feels the quality is what matters, not the model. “I am not a hard-liner but I have a problem with how lawn ads objectify women. It becomes more about the model and less about the fabric.” She feels it puts the buyer off when models show too much skin; this adds fuel to the already hyper-charged emotions of lawn buyers. “The result is: stampedes, lawn parties, competition and overspending,” she adds. “Trust me, models make things worse!”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2013.
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