Political marketing: Orders for party posters and flags come flying in

Advertisers say that they make the most money in the time leading up to the elections.

Photo Athar Khan/noman Ahmed April 13, 2013
Mamoonur Rasheed, who has been in the printing press business since his school days, said that the orders for campaigns have been slow. Up till now, he had received the order for advertising campaigns for only two National Assembly constituencies - one each from Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Peoples Party. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS


Advertisers at major printing markets in Karachi sit with their fingers crossed - in the time leading up to the general elections on May 11, they expect to reap in a month’s time what they usually earn during the course of a year or two.

Due to the delay in awarding party tickets in the face of the ongoing scrutiny process by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the overall mood at the printing markets located in Pakistan Chowk and Nazimabad appears, however, low and dismal.

“The real show will begin as soon as the political parties finalise their candidates but the scrutiny and seat adjustment talks between the political parties are the major reasons for delay,” said 30-year-old Mamoonur Rasheed, sitting behind a desk at his small office in the Nazimabad printing market. “Now the elections are only a month away but the business that we have been receiving is not even one-fourth of our expectations,” said Rasheed, adding that the wholesale suppliers of raw printing material had already increased the prices in anticipation of the pre-election campaigning.

Rasheed, who has been in the printing business since his school days, said that the pre-election period was his time to make a fortune. Over the years, his business had expanded into fabric and panaflex banners, posters, pamphlets, billboards, shields and even motorised floats.

Up till now, he had received the order for advertising campaigns for only two National Assembly constituencies - one each from Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Peoples Party.

Faysal Ghaffar Amiwala, a marketing associate at Rehmani Communications located in Pakistan Chowk, had also received only one campaign for the provincial assembly candidate of Awami National Party.


Raising the flag

As a warm-up for their election campaigns, the political parties had, however, ordered for party flags that have reached up to hundreds of thousands in numbers.

“The anticipated demand for Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s flag has already created a shortage of cotton and silk fabric in red, green and white colours in the market,” remarked Rasheed. “Most of it has been already bought and being stored by the advertisers,” he added, as he received another call from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for an order of 20,000 party flags. The Jamaat-e-Islami had also ordered around 100,000 flags.

Other than the flags, orders for banners and posters, highlighting political parties’ electoral symbols and leaderships as well as party manifestos, have also been received but not the actual campaigns for candidates, said another advertiser, Waqas Haider, who owns alRehman Enterprises.

Orders for the decoration of cars with vinyl sheets in line with the political parties’ election themes have also been received by a few advertisers who deal in panaflex designs. Naeem Ahmed at the shop in Pakistan Chowk was busy preparing them for PTI activists who had ordered them privately.

Fully prepared

After gauging the situation, advertisers have also stocked up reams of paper, adhesive sheets and panaflex material as well as fabric for banners and flags as they believe “the candidates’ election campaigns will run for hardly 15 to 20 days now,” said Muhammad Asim who owns Kaghaz Ghar, a wholesale paper shop.

Asim added that 100 sheets of imported off-set paper were being sold at around Rs26,000, which were sold at Rs19,000 a month ago.

Graphic designers, on the other hand, at these markets had started receiving clients’ requests for eye-catching designs for official websites and Facebook pages as soon as the ECP had approved the electoral symbols - all thanks to the use of social media by political parties.

Watch a slideshow of pictures here.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2013.


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