Published: July 11, 2010
Advertisements cement old-fashioned perceptions

Advertisements cement old-fashioned perceptions

Pakistanis complain, almost constantly, of having been stereotyped in the West as terrorists and their country as the ‘most dangerous one in the world’, but the labels that exist in the country are  just as nauseating.

Advertisements that run on television are a prime example of the ‘labels’ that have been stuck on people.  Fairness cream ads show anyone with less than a ghostly complexion as suffering from self esteem issues, unable to land a job, a modelling contract, a painter’s heart or a marriage proposal. Women, in particular, are almost always shown as housewives, constantly catering to their ever-hungry family’s demands for platters of food (almost every cooking oil ad) or ice-cream.  Men from Punjab are always shown as dancing boisterously while those from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or the northern regions of Pakistan are depicted as bearded, silent folk who can’t speak English.

The latest addition to the slew of advertisements that cement stereotypes is the Mobilink ad/song to promote Naseem Hamid, who became a national star after winning the 100 metre-spring at the South Asian Games this year. The advertisement brings in religion to the mix, equating Hamid kneeling before running to her mother kneeling in prayer. Even though it purports to depict Hamid’s ‘true story’, her parents are played by different people in the commercial, possibly since they are more photogenic.

The stereotypes exist everywhere we go. Men are constantly told as children that crying is for women, while women are told that their job in life is to cater for their family’s dietary needs. These reflect in our advertisements, in television shows and plays and in talk shows.

But there are few advertisements out there that show how society has changed in Pakistan, of girls that cater to their family’s needs in a different way by going out to work or men who do not find crying shameful.

Ironically, one of the more popular ads on television these days comes from Ufone, which highlights an actor who hits on a beautiful woman, but gets turned off because she has an unappealing voice.  Appearances aren’t everything, and boxing different people into roles only shows a distorted image of the country within it and abroad.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2010.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (6)

  • Danish
    Jul 12, 2010 - 10:10AM

    Oh please! that Ufone ad is any thing but stereotype. n if you are saying making fun is racist then thats just nonsense. what we need as nation is learn to laugh at one’s self.Recommend

  • Immad
    Jul 12, 2010 - 12:52PM

    Excellent topic, useless article.Recommend

  • Saif
    Jul 12, 2010 - 12:54PM

    I am still not able to comprehend what is the conclusion of this article – honestly. Recommend

  • Dost
    Jul 12, 2010 - 3:42PM

    Umm.. the point of the article is written in plain sight, as the caption of the title image:
    “Advertisements cement old-fashioned perceptions”

    The article is quite poignant and I agree with its observations!Recommend

  • Atiya
    Jul 12, 2010 - 4:29PM

    Okay I read this beacuse a colleague talked about how it has no point and no angle. I decided to find out for myself and I agree with my colleague. The article metnions these sterotypes but what exactly is the point? I mean duh! we know these stereotypes and the fainess cream example has been done to death as has the stay-at-home mom. The real question is what should be done to remove these sterotypes and make them quirky and intelligent. Ads for me is the time to press the mute button.Recommend

  • Saif
    Jul 12, 2010 - 5:32PM

    These stereotypes are present in every part, every business, and every culture of our little planet!

    “[?]Pakistanis complain, almost constantly, of having been stereotyped in the West as terrorists and their country as the ‘most dangerous one in the world’, but the labels that exist in the country are just as nauseating. [/?]”

    okay…what is this? (anything else than deliberate waste of space??)Recommend

More in Life & Style