Advertising: Relevence with the culture of ‘target market’!!


Effectiveness of advertising tools increases manifolds if they are modeled based on the social, economic and cultural realities of a ‘target market’. This advertisement, by Telenor Pakistan displayed at a shop in Gulmit, shows a female character in a dress that is culturaly irrelevent. At the same time the female is being showed sitting on a rail track despite of the fact that there are no rail tracks, so far, built in the region. This poster is a perfect example of irrelevent and ‘unfocused’ advertising. Photo SOURCE

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  1. Well, I agree you on the grounds of cultural and social relevance of this advertisement as this negates our values and customs. On the other hand, I dont see anything bad in it, despite the flaws you described.

    I may not be able to justify my justifications easily as this is a hot topic, anyhow, as far as the benefits of the firm are concerned, this is the right choice of advertisement. How do we (the mobile users only) dress ourselves? Do we really wear the clothes specified and mentioned in our culture? Do we resemble our beautiful grandparents in their unique, simple and elegent dress? As far as I am concerned, “I DONT” and I cant say anything about others.

    This advertisement is for us, i.e., the young generation ( because our parents and grandparents may or may not be using this product frequently or often) and ‘WE’ love such dresses. Just to justify em justifications, I dont see guys wearing the real dresses of our forefathers often.

    In addition, I think the rail track depicts their foresightedness because me may be having rail links in future. Unlikely, I disagree using them while sitting on the rail track. It seems absurd anyhow it depends on choices of the users that where he/she wanna use that. Mobiles can be used anywhere………


  2. A sheer consumerism, corporate culture’s onslaught and mindless, unethical competition to woo common people. Should be lamented and discouraged…

    Farman Ali

  3. A non .sense telenor had already made when it had organized a function in Hunza an d invited all the singers from down.It is simply the sheer negligence.We should boycot such firms.


  4. This is only for business purpose, and we do have to discourge them such irrelevent type of advertisement according to our social and cultural back far as concern the facility of communcation, they must need to advertise related to the area where they should focus the specific place.
    I my self dis agree with there advertisement,,,,,,,,,,,and should say that this advertisement has not allow them to paste in whole Northern areas.

  5. Dear readers,
    Whatever has been mentioned about the irrelevancy of the advertisement above,I think it is very much right and concrete based.

    I know that we have been wearing on variety of clothings and trying to be more trendy,It is all because of lack of sense of belongingness and externally influenced mind set.It shows the partiality of our mind and a more tilt towards others without adding values to our own traits.

    The dress that we wear on is not very much related to the geographical and cultural background of ours and just represents the callusness of our minds and thoughts.

    It is really striking to know that the youth trying to disregard the ancestral practices because of less comrprehension of our distinct cultural symbols and values.

    It is really important to retain our cultural practices as these would be a tool towards our identification in the long run. If we compromise and ignore our own valuable characters then none else is going to value them ahead. We should be proud of our elders and ought to get lessons from them about our rituals and mutuals.

    Student of molecular genetics,

  6. dears
    am thank ful to the moderator for giving a plateform to the people of our regoin so that we can discuss things related to ourselves.they might be economical,cultural,educational and social.
    one thing i would like to share here is that though we have got a plateform(it might be limited) but what i have obsereved is that we are not comming out of ourselves.we are just sticking to our ideas,trying to justify them and some time a bit soft quarell as well.
    we are talking about our pains of all sorts and we forget cure.if there is any problem in our society and some one is pionting it out,others should give can be suitable or according to the problem and they can also be irrelevant.but at least we can see that there is not only diagnose but also cure.
    about the above advertisement my piontof view is that it is a need arousing advertisement.todays advertisements are also trend setters and one can hardly stand infront of there flow.on or other day we are attracted.
    can we do this that we could talk to the advertising firm and make some ammendments according to our desires/culture?????????
    i welcome your objections on my views.

  7. I really appreciate Amjad bhai’s view. I have seen the sort of advertisement in Blue area Islamabad by another mobile company. A lady, with a WURGESHTH/GIRAN on her back and talking on the mobile phone. On top of that, she has the traditional Hunza cap (SIKIDH/PHARCIN). that sounds so cool and heart touching. Telenor people (recently received the award for being the top best mobile company in the world) can have a look at the Mobilink people’s add and can come up with a much better idea.

    now that was the solution bit to the issue, but it doenst finish here because how many youngster male/female from Hunza even know what a Wurgeshth/Giran is? how many of us put on our traditional cap? to my understanding the more we are getting richer in terms of economic development, we have been moving very fastly towards cultural poverty and I have observed this on several occasions and in several festivals.

    What about the the respect for elders, parents and teachers. What about our food (a brand name “Hunza Diet” in the Western World) and above all, what about our unity??????

  8. Dear Noor and All reader
    Going through all the debate and comments regarding the irrelevance of the Telenor advertisement regarding the dress and all other aspects… the mean time the photo you displayed in the article (young female professiona…Jan 11…..) of our young professionals Zulfiqar and Mussrat (professionally they have done wonderful job and we all should be proud of them, they have inspired all of us) but my question from you and all other readers is (IS THAT DRESS RELEVENT TO OUR CULTURE) when we are not ready to bear a simple commercial display with paint and shirt…….


  9. Dear Readers

    I was amazed to see the diversity in our views, as communicated by the comments that we have made. It is a very healthy sign. We, at least, are able to speak whatever we feel and, that too, in a very positive and rational manner.

    Going to the advertisement: I am a marketing majors, doing my business studies. I have studied Advertising, Marketing Research, Consumer Behavior and tens of other marketing courses. That is why I made a technical point, highlighting its “irrelevece”. As I am not an anthropologist, or a social scientist, I don’t have answers to all of your other questions.

    Having said that at the outset let me again state what I had said earlier: This advertisement has not been developed by keeping the cultural affiliations and associations of the target market in mind. It has been prepared for another market and just dumped in another region, most probably, for cost saving.

    If this young gilr would have been shown in a local setting, dressed in local attire, doing something that the locals are used to, i can guarantee that its power to convince would have increased exponentially. In my point of view the adv. that Mehboob Aziz Sahab is talking about is more relevent to our society than this one.

    Amjad is right in saying that ‘todays advertisements are trend setters’. They definitely set trends. But should we be trend followers or trend setters? Legally this advertisement is not flawed. But technicaly it is.


  10. Jotting down things or having my justifications justified doesnt mean that I am sticking to my own ideas, dont have any luv/care for my own beautiful cultural things and want others to do the same as I do.I equally agree and respect your views, Amjad Looploll, but I had some justifications even now to prove em right.

    Well, to prove em right doesnt mean that your ideas are wrong, these are just only em weak perceptions. Anyhow, if you had gone through my comments with a more eager eye you would have found that I had a desire to implement the simple and elegent dress of our forefathers in the advertisement. I dont want myself to have a soft quarrel with you or anyone. Human minds think in different ways so my perceptions may differ too. I believe in change because I believe that there is nothing constant but change.


  11. hi there!
    commenting on the advertisement i think it has nothing to do with our culture,as far its relevency is concerned, it is a very relevent and maybe the most approperiate display for the regions other than the north/ hunza. morever telenor serves the worlds majority following the culture(which the picture is showing) so need not to worry about that……..

  12. dears
    it is a good sign that we are creating an environment of frankness and open discission.nothing should be taken serious or personal,i realy like as alyan(though i dont know him)has replied and noor bhai has replied and others too.
    i have already said that it is a plateform to explore our we can do it only if there is an eye on us.and we are all friendly eyes on each other.

    a problem which is not discussed openly or an issue is if not observed closely in a rational way creates hurdles in a smooth our all these ideas, critics and mending each others is a positive sign that we are a members of a community that can express itself openly and has great tolerance.

  13. Dear Amjad,
    If we are determined to do something than there shouldn’t be anything external to influnce us or anything that should make us feel of what we are suppoesed to do.The thing that i would like to share here is, we should be strong enough to speak our hearts out for a cause that after an amulgum of ideas would pave a way towards a smooth solution.Solution is reached after many ups and downs and unless and untill there are no diversified opinions,the cause won’t be strong and won’t have a long lasting effects.
    It is all really great that guys are coming up with diversified opinions and this shows how much we are rich in ideas and how beautifully the ideas are expressed.
    Things will become more stronger as such fruitful deliberations are carried out.
    Whatever we do,it must be purposeful and thought provoking for others to ponder over and share their sensitivities.This kind of approach ultimately leads to something more effective and more productive.
    student of molecular genetics,Lahore

  14. Dear Readers,

    As I am have a perception about the advertisement is; just for business matter. Our Educated generation should not think negatively. We should not push our minds back far to the dark era again. I am proud to say that the people from Hunza Gojal are now more advance and educated with the blessings of AKDN than rest of the provinces within our country. Culture is in our mind, so there is no concern of the given advertisement with our culture.

  15. Dear All,

    I dont think the debate here is about any cultural value or ethical issue. However i strongly disagree that culture is in our minds …..Culture is expressed with symbols, if just remains in minds it gets relinguished and loose its identity after a generation. We should also define culture in a wide perspective rather describing it just as in terms of dress codes. However, in educated societies such debates are regarded positive to get awareness about the positives and negatives rather to adopt things blindly.

    As development professionals or corporate managers all of us are aware that in order to introduce any intervention or any product to any region it is made compatible with the particular social context of the target communirty. In this case it may not be cost effective for every mobile company to develop separate advertisement for less attarctive market areas. The banners displayed by SCO was designed while taking into consideration of this phenomenon because NAs is the major target business area for them. While Telenor and other companies having international market.

  16. Dear Zulfiqar Bhai,
    I fully agree with your point of view about culture as expressed with symbols but what I feel is, these symbols are the translation of the transcripts that have been transcribed by the the mind set , undergoing many phases of changes and development.Some things in the mind should remain static as to regulate our day to day functions according to a set pattern where as the rest as dynamic to comeup with the requirements of the time or to perform something creative for the development of the mind set and its varoius perspectives.
    Both these dynamic and static are interdependent and we can not say about their existance as seperate, independent entities.
    The thing that has to be clarified here is that, we will be facing many things as “Denovo”and it is pertinent to mention here that we should not act as emotionally feebled minds rather emotionally intelligent minds to resolve the various constraints with diversified opinions and collective efforts.
    We can not disregard the mind set but we can mould it according to a certain situation making use of what lies in the background and what possibilities it can shootup for.
    Aslam Ghalib
    Student of molecular Genetics,Lahore

  17. Last week I had this nice opportunity to go through a book, in search of some answers related to ‘culture’, as we discussed it here.

    I will invite all of you to go through a Routledge Classic, by Homi K. Bhabha, titled “The location of culure”. A limited edition is available online (on Google Books), as well.

    It is a very well written book and masterfully discusses
    concepts like “colonial mimicry”, “hybridity” and other questions related to culture, nationaity, identity etc.


  18. I think here nothing is to be taken personally… we are here to depict different ideas and dimensions of the targeted issue… to be very honest, here i must mention that we just speak our ideas and expect others to follow what they ought to be.. and practically we ourselves are not implementing the same thing either so as far as issue of dressing is concerned, every body knows the limitations and set boundaries of their culture, the only requisite is to enhance the sense of belongingness on the part of youth who are the future representatives of their society and are definetly accountable to the new generation for what foundation they laid for them…


    PU, Lahore

  19. Dear Ghalib,

    It is true that symbols are transcribed from mind sets. However, in this era where the dominants are engulfing the weaker ones, it should not remain static rather it should be symbolised.

  20. It really helped me refine my perceptions and understandings about the issue of profound interest and utmost consideration.
    Thanks for the nice platform provided for a fruitful diversified understandings.


  21. I One thing I would like to mention that the problem about this issue is for all the educated people. Yup am iIright ?

    Where were these people when the Pakistani Film Industry was shooting their film and the drama at our homeland? Was that the part of our culture?

    As one thing which is really famous about us, means most of our people use this idom that
    “What so, ever a khick is at last he/she is a shephard.”
    So now it is the time to change ourself. Inspite of incouraging TELENOR what the hell we are doing?
    One thing about culture or tradition is that it changes with the passage of time. First there was not even cloth for our ansistors to wear n now what we are wearing? It is all about time.
    My brothers and sisters one thing which is a person should keep in mind is that


  22. Dear all,
    It is so nice to read the different point of views from ur side about the telenor ad. Some of my friends have focused the matter in a hypercritical manner and some seem to be a bit confused whether it is right or wrong. As it is obvious that our culture is one of the the most preserved culture of the world and thats why UNO is going to declare it as a heritage site of the world.
    But now the matter is how can we resist the external influences on our culture, many NGOs are also working to provide it a safe site. Few days back when i talked to a highly designated person of Aga Khan Culture Service about this sign board he said, they dont want to see any signboards in Hunza because it distursbs the natural environment and visuals can arise different conflicts in the minds of people.
    The thing is that when ad is done, target market, specific class and age group is targeted but this ad doesnt resemble any specific area.
    When i discussed about this ad in my department majority rejected it saying that the Production designer was not well aware of the target market . They have used rational approach and they were just concern about their company persona.
    Aasis has mentioned that why were people not concerned about the film shooting done there. i would like to make it clear that films or drama are based on the scripts and it is mostly fictious. That shootings doesnt affect ur culture or area , it is good that we have got such wonderful places which are selected for film shooting.

    nisar ahmed

    film and tv department
    NCA Lhr

  23. Good to see different viewpoints over issues and news published on Pamir Times. I wish we could have this much and kind of open discussion on other genuine issues published from time to time.

    I think the advertisement shown above is an unconscious act of the shop-owner in the absence of any other cheap option, as is done with cigarette posters, and nothing to do with the company’s marketing technique or any intention to play with our culture. The shop owner has to tell the people about this product through all available means with even wondering why to sit on a dirty railway track if you have a mobile set with Telenor sim in your hand. Anyhow, it has become a source of discussion and invited many views which is good.


  24. hey this is really a great thing guys, I loved it alot. But a thing lacking is that why we are talking of such cheap and useless things. We should be thankful to TELENOR.
    It doesnt matters that what is on the add but we should come to that point that how it has changed our life. I am saying about the services of TELENOR not about the add.
    Its life prople and it goes on just be POSITIVE and think POSITIVELY.

    Thanx alot GOJAL.NET

    Gohar Aashiq

  25. I wonder why sometimes dirty things (the rail track and may be the poster too, as a freind has described) also look beautiful. Why? And why does such dirty things urge us to do debates and hot dicussions on them?

    To be very honest, I see beauty in everything I come across, even in the worst things to be mentioned. Why? Well, because I am a humanbeing and I go through the process of changes.
    Change? ………………………….? How?


  26. Whether an advertisement is the MAKER of a culture or the MIRROR of a culture has long been a BIG QUESTION. Critics of advertisements claim that advertisers and marketers manipulate consumers through in depth research into consumer behavior and then target the desperate consumers through sophisticated techniques that constitute the advertisements formulated on the basis of the research into consumer behavior. The poor consumers are unknowingly dictated into availing the offering of that particular advertiser or marketer. They further say that the multi national enterprises (MNE’s) plunge billions of dollars into the creation of needs…needs that are artificial. On the other hand the proponents of advertising justify themselves by saying that they use advertisements just to inform consumers about products that can solve their problems. They claim that they give more choices to the consumers. They say that needs cannot be created. Needs already exist and the companies are there to satisfy those needs in a profitable manner.

    Keeping the arguments of the critics and proponents of advertisements aside, the rationality lies in not exploiting the consumer as a mean to an end if the company is to sustain in the long run. It is a common sense to adapt an advertisement to the culture and society in which the company aims to operate over the long haul. Understanding the way in which other cultures communicate allows the advertising campaign to speak to the potential customer in a way they understand and appreciate. Even the simplest and most taken for granted aspects of advertising need to be inspected under a cross cultural microscope. Colours, numbers, symbols and images do not all translate well across cultures. But I think Telenor has ignored this fact.

    There are two possibilities into this careless advertising of the company. Number one is that the company has not done enough research and socio-cultural analysis of its market segment that lies in the north. Number two possibility is that they have done extensive and extraordinary analysis and study of its major target market i.e. the youth. The youth has been the major and most profitable target market of Telenor ever since it has started its operation in Pakistan. The poster shows an image of a girl in jeans sitting on a rail track. The issue of the rail track in the advertisement can be justified by saying that Telenor sees things beyond the current scenario; it is more forward looking company that has tried to communicate the future rail track that is planned to be laid between China and Pakistan. The issue of a girl in jeans seems illogical because girls don’t wear jeans in our society. It would have been acceptable if it was a boy in jeans. Or the advertising strategy might be directed towards the male youth that is the target audience of the youth segment of the company and that is prone to cultural borrowing in order to grab their attention through such vulgar images.

    Whatever the reason behind the ad, and whether the company had done it intentionally or unintentionally, it is an explicit attempt to change the culture or to inject elements of another culture or sub culture into our own culture. If such advertisements are not discouraged and abandoned, then the psychological effects of such ads would be destructive and long lasting. The company must work upon a retrenchment strategy for such ads and come up with ads that are culturally acceptable, fit with the norms and values of the society. The company must adapt the ads to the ethical standards of the society. Manipulating the youth through such ads just for the sake of short run economic gains would invite the wrath of the mass and the company may not sustain in the long run. To maintain a good will the company should be socially responsible.

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