KARACHI: On a lazy Sunday, a woman was woken up by the telephone ringing at the ungodly hour of 7am.
Who could it be at this hour, she pondered as she drowsily reached for the handset. To her surprise, a husky but alluring voice - one which has been clogging the airwaves these days - was on the other end, speaking in Urdu.
“Assalam-o-Alaikum. This is Imran Khan speaking. How are you? I am coming to your city to bring everyone together on December 25 at Mazar-e-Quaid for a peace rally. I hope that you can break all the shackles and take part because at this rally we need to make the beginnings of a new Pakistan. I will be waiting. Thank you.”
This recorded voice message by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan has been waking up people across the city – much to their delight it appears.
“I was shocked to hear him,” said Saba Abid, who received the message on Sunday morning. “In the beginning, I couldn’t understand why he was calling me. I think it’s a creative way to advertise, except for the part of waking up people early in the morning.”
It seems to have worked, however, as Ariba, a teenage resident of DHA, was sufficiently convinced. “Listening to his voice message was amazing,” she gushed. “I am definitely going to his jalsa with all my friends.”
This marketing strategy was first used to invite people in Lahore before the jalsa on October 30 and the party felt it produced successful results in mobilising thousands of people. “In Karachi we decided to do the same thing because miscreants are tearing down our posters and banners,” said the party’s head in Sindh, Naeem-ul Haq. “Through Imran Khan’s personalised message, we hope to mobilise our supporters.”
The phone campaign has been going on for a week. “Around 300,000 people will be receiving the recorded messages on their PTCL landlines,” explained SM Ilyas at the PTI Karachi office. This is about half of the total number of subscribers in the city.
A Lahore company is involved in the social marketing, and anyone can call the number, 042-38375454, to hear the message as well.
Haseeb Anwar, a resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, was so excited to hear his favourite politician’s voice, he started talking back until he realised it was a recorded message. He’ll just have to wait till Christmas to hear him live.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2011.
Correction: Due to a typographical error, the word 'beginnings' was misspelled in an earlier version of the article. The error has been rectified.
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