If you had imagined waking up the morning after Election Day to a spanking new, Naya Pakistan, then the campaign devised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf worked on you as intended.
On the eve of May 11, not only were many celebrating the completion of a democratically-elected government’s tenure, but there were also whispers and chants of a “Naya Pakistan”. The two words invaded every facet of our lives, from social media and television to radio and the very streets of major cities. More than a slogan, the phrase became part of popular culture, and was used in a song, internet memes and also in debates between political parties. The Express Tribune talks to the man who helped create the slogan for PTI.
“The Naya Pakistan [campaign] created excitement about taking part in elections amongst a class that detested politics,” says Shavaar Ali Khan, head of Farigh Four, the advertising firm which chalked out the Naya Pakistan campaign for the PTI. “It created awareness about political culture.”
Although the party did not score majority seats in the National Assembly, the party’s well-marketed slogan spoke about change, and encouraged citizens to make it to the ballot box.
“We were approached by the PTI’s brand team, and treated the client as a brand. Other examples similar to the PTI are the Barack Obama campaign and the Indian party BJP’s Shining India campaign,” explains Shavaar.
PTI’s brand team, which includes Salman Amjad, Salman Danish Naseer, Faisal Javed and Asad Umar, had approached Farigh Four to devise a marketing strategy that would represent change. Creating the right mix meant defining what exactly that change is. “Change as a buzzword was associated with Obama, so we had to come up with a slogan that defined change. Naya Pakistan was the answer.”
The Farigh Four team started to work with the PTI to design a campaign that would entice a citizen to vote. The campaign became the firm’s flagship project. “The idea was to get new voters who had never voted before and to create a campaign that is not specifically focused on any party because the target audience, which was meant to be reached, was completely apolitical,” narrates Shavaar. It is important to not here that voter turn-out on May 11, 2013 was the highest in Pakistan’s history, at 60%.
With the aim of permeating all segments of society, Farigh Four’s team with Beenish Mir and Shehzad Ahmed on board, started to work on the slogan. “We had to come up with a concept which was not only pan-Pakistan, but also something that would raise the PTI above regular politics,” explains Shavaar. “The different slogans that we came up with were ‘Banega Naya Pakistan’ and ‘Naya Banega Pakistan’.”
PTI chairman Imran had started to chant the Naya Pakistan slogan by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the PTI was laying the foundation for one of the biggest media campaigns in Pakistan’s history.
“The idea was to not let the slogan get lost amidst aggressive election campaigns by other political parties and since youngsters were the primary target, it had to be something which could stay with them. The campaign resulted in the birth of a new political class — people who were inspired by the dream of Naya Pakistan,” asserts Shavaar.
Working with Imran
Shavaar says that cricketer-turned-politician Imran was open to new initiatives. The man behind the campaign says that the openness was due to the “culture of meritocracy within the party.”
“Whether you agree with him politically or not, he [Imran] has charisma and leadership qualities that he tries to inculcate in the youth. He is very encouraging,” expresses Shavaar. “He [Imran] has a set of advisers, but he is the kind of guy who does what he wants. So, a lot of things that we did spontaneously, like creating the buzzwords such as tabdeeli [change] or Naya Pakistan, he kind of inherently started to use them.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2013.
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