KARACHI: Strings have endorsed several brands over the past decade, including Pepsi, Mobilink, Warid, Gibson guitars and they have now been chosen by Etihad Airways as brand ambassadors for the airline.
This deal shows how Strings has come full circle, given that the band’s first international tour was to Sharjah in 1992. Strings, which featured four band members then, had a mixed reaction from the expat audience in Sharjah. Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia laughingly told the now-defunct music website bandbaja.org in 2004 that they were not paid in full for the Sharjah concert from the tour promoters.
It is ironic – and a sign of how far the band has come that they are now endorsing the country’s national airline.
At a press conference to announce their new deal, Strings was flanked by officials from the airline. Peter Baumgartner, the Etihad Airways commercial chief officer said, “It is a great afternoon for us. Etihad values its relationship with Pakistan and we welcome Faisal and Bilal to this partnership. (We see that) Strings continue to grow and so does Etihad Airways. Strings has a different approach to music and Etihad Airways is running on those same modern lines.”
One of the key reasons for the airline choosing Strings is that the duo has a huge fan following in the Gulf amongst the desi community. Strings believe that the partnership will showcase a ‘softer’ side of Pakistan as well.
Baumgartner described the partnership with Strings as a “natural fit”. “It’s a new territory for us, and it showcases our commitment to the Pakistani community living in UAE, UK and America. Strings will provide prestige and glamour to the airline and vice versa.”
“It is a proud moment for both of us,” Kapadia said. “It is great that Etihad is investing in the country and promoting culture through music.”
Maqsood said, “(Through this) the soft image of the country is being promoted. They have signed us up and we hope that we are able to match our music.”
When asked why Strings chose to partner with Etihad (the national airline of the United Arab Emirates) instead of the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines, Maqsood candidly remarked, “After all, our president lives in Dubai too.”
The band’s upcoming song, “Ab Khud Hi Kuch Karna Parega”, which features Atif Aslam, will focus on the current sociopolitical situation in the country. Maqsood said, “Last year, we were touring the US and when we came back, we had a reality check about the recent happenings in the country. We started writing the lyrics. We have worked with acclaimed Indian artists and this time round we thought someone from Pakistan (will fit in this) and what better name than Atif Aslam. So we recorded the song with him”
When asked what role politicians have to play in Pakistan, Maqsood said, “We expect a lot from our politicians. I don’t think they will do anything, we ourselves have to get up and do it.”
Kapadia told The Express Tribune that the band is heading back to foreign shores. “We are touring the US for the next two months and have been part of a national music contest called “Azme Alishan” which we were judging. Next up is shooting the video for “Ab Khud Hi Kuch Karna Parega”.
Published in the Express Tribune, 4th, 2010.