Is this Supposed to be Funny? Or Insulting?

Posted on July 25, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Media Matters, Sports
Total Views: 30239


Adil Najam

I am as excited about Pakistan’s Test cricket victory against Australia as the next guy. Maybe even more.

But this huge (quarter page) advertisement on the front page of today’s (Sunday’s) The News is just plain bad taste.

That it is an ad for Pepsi – a major global brand, but also the official sponsor of Pakistan cricket (over-sized Pepsi logos are the most prominent thing on the official clothing of Pakistani cricketers), makes it only more so.

It was obviously made in a hurry. But I, for one, wish it had never been made. Whether Pepsi does so or not, let me apologize to Ricky Ponting. This, as they say, is just not cricket!

I do not know what was the thought behind this Ad?

If they thought this was funny; it is not. Only early today I had a chat with my 7-year old explaining to him that making fun of other people’s names is not funny, because we would not like it if others make fun of ours.

If they thought it was a commentary on Pakistan cricket and a show of support for Pakistani cricket; it is not. Despite the exciting victory we pulled off, no serious cricket fan will claim that Pakistan is the better team of the two. There is much that we should try to learn from Australia, even in this Test: their fight back till the very end, for example! The argument I often give to my 7-year old is also valid here: imagine what might be our reaction if Indian or Australian or British newspapers started carrying Ads like this about Pakistan each time we lost a game or something bad happened in Pakistan (and those, unfortunately, happen all too often!)?

But that is not the point. The point is that this Ad has no point. At least no redeeming point.

All it does is insult. And not just Ricky Ponting. It insults the brand integrity of Pepsi, and even more the brand identity of Pakistan cricket (since Pepsi is its official sponsor) and of Pakistan and Pakistanis in general (the green background is not accidental, nor is the bouncing kangaroo). It presents and projects us as a mean, insensitive, gloating, and petty people. Some of us may, indeed, be that. But I am not prepared to be ‘branded’ in that light; and certainly not by Pepsi.

Maybe I am over-reacting. And clearly this is not the of the problems we face. But sometimes it is the small things that pinch hardest, because they become metaphor for all the big things that are wrong. I just wish that whoever made and approved this Ad had read Mian Mohammad Bakhsh’s Saif-uk-Muluk:

Dushman marey tey khushi na kariye sajjna vi mar jaana
(Do not gloat when an enemy dies, your friends too will die)

Editor’s note: Here are some examples of bad advertising; of good advertising; and of advertising nostalgia.

45 Comments on “Is this Supposed to be Funny? Or Insulting?”

  1. ASAD says:
    July 26th, 2010 12:37 am

    Well said Adil. I am glad you write this. This is just pathetic. “Yeh hum nahin”.

    I cannot imagine how a company like Pepsi which has to be doing more business in Australia than in Pakistan can think they can do this type of childish advertising and get away with it!

  2. zakintosh says:
    July 26th, 2010 12:50 am

    This was one terrible mistake … and something that Pepsi should apologize for!

  3. Jamal says:
    July 26th, 2010 1:01 am

    I agree, Pepsi (and also The News) should apologize.
    This is a very poor show of judgement.

  4. USMAN says:
    July 26th, 2010 1:04 am

    I think it is just a little sporting fun. No more.

  5. Brian says:
    July 26th, 2010 1:18 am

    The question is, are they running the same in Australia?

  6. Talat says:
    July 26th, 2010 1:40 am

    I also think this is in bad taste. Maybe if this was a political cartoon in a newspaper it would be OK. But from a global company like Pepsi, this is just bad form. Bad show, Pepsi

  7. July 26th, 2010 1:42 am

    Pepsi got carried away with Teams success :P
    I find it creative and it could be considered as Satire not insult.

  8. haroon says:
    July 26th, 2010 1:58 am

    @Hina Safdar.

    If this has been done in an op-ed or by GEO or by Adil Najam or some blogger, it would have been OK and maybe even cute or funny as satire. But coming from a global giant like Pepsi and using Pakistan’s colours from the sponsor of Pakistan cricket, this is really really poor taste. As post says, think what happens when such things are said about us or our country or religion. How do we feel.

    Personally, I am not a fan of Australian behavior and they have often insulted Pakistan too, but that is no reason for us to stoop to that level too.

  9. Ehtisham says:
    July 26th, 2010 2:04 am

    Why can’t we just be happy for having won, without gloating. Specially, since we lose so often ourselves, I would think we would have better grace than this. And who the hell is Pepsi and what gives them the right to present this ugly picture of Pakistani attitudes.

  10. momers says:
    July 26th, 2010 2:31 am

    wait wait wait…you haven’t seen the ANOTHER ONE they made! There were 2 of these. This ones even yuckier!


  11. Adil Raza Shaikh says:
    July 26th, 2010 2:43 am

    Oh plz stop the moral policing I have seen worst in ausie and english newspapers. I find the add quite cheeky. Was an ausie kfc add ok with u that they made when shahid afridi decided to use the ball as his apple of the day, just don’t criticise for the sake of it. We need humour and banter to again learn to smile, at least when people saw this add they would have smiled. We don’t get many these days when we pick up a news paper. I totally respect ur view but as Pakistani we shouldn’t get apologetic over each and every thing

    Adil Raza Shaikh

  12. Aliya says:
    July 26th, 2010 2:47 am

    One victory in 15 years and we loose control!

  13. July 26th, 2010 4:08 am

    ha ha ha ha, good one, I never see it before.

    What if they make fun of Pakistni players on next defeat

  14. Ahmer says:
    July 26th, 2010 4:26 am

    Haha, awesome.

    You see this kind of crap in England and Australia all the time. Whats your point about this being shameful? Its entertaining…

  15. Adnan Ali says:
    July 26th, 2010 8:27 am

    Now just a minute, I think Ponting and Co, deserve this. I mean why should we always show patience and tolerence and let others always make a mockery of our team. I have seen the Aussies and the Indians make fun of our team and people a number of time, and at the same seen the officials only laughing at it. Infact we need our players to be as vocal and vigilant in giving a befitting reply to such comments at the very right moment. Now if they call it fun, they should take this too for fun. It’s time we stop playing Mr. cool and forget that nothing has happend.

  16. Nihari says:
    July 26th, 2010 9:02 am

    Grow up….when Malcolm Speed can call us buffoon and their team is known for their language inside and outside the field….why the hell are you loosing sleep over some funny ads….yawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn’

    and Yes….Murali do approve of these ads

  17. Amjad says:
    July 26th, 2010 10:17 am

    It is a very different thing if said by a journalist or even a player (and even that is bad taste; we should know because it is often done against us and then we get all worked up about it)

    Even if this was a Pakistani company like Gaye soap or Rooh Afza then it will make sense, but why Pepsi since when is a fizzy drink with too much sugar have the right to insult on our behalf!

  18. Ch. Aslam says:
    July 26th, 2010 10:23 am

    simple rule: if you cannot take a joke against yourself, then don’t go around insulting others in bad humour. We can’t even take a few cartoons and here we are dishing this!

  19. Nihari says:
    July 26th, 2010 11:19 am

    There has been a huge procession in Austraila. About 200,000 attended. They protested against these ads and demanded a ban on pepsi. the austrailan parliment passed a resoultion to ban pepsi unless it aplogises….Achbishop of Canberra led the protests

    No they didnt. they have better things to do….Difference in Paksitani and Australian GDP tells you all about it.

  20. Eidee Man says:
    July 26th, 2010 12:20 pm

    Nice one, Nihari. :-)

  21. Norm says:
    July 26th, 2010 12:57 pm

    Are you guys for real ?

    This is harmless ad, in fact it is done beautifully.

    Talk about political correctness gone mad – here is one such example.

  22. J.S.K. says:
    July 26th, 2010 1:29 pm

    Lets stop with the political correctness. Funny is funny. Like that one that the Australian beer company with a picture of all the bearded players on the Pakistan team walking into the ground, and the caption says, “Lets teach these terrorists a lesson: This one is for 9/11.” I don’t know why everyone got so worked up. It was just a joke, just like this one !

  23. ahmed ahsan says:
    July 26th, 2010 1:44 pm

    Awesome ad so far from pepsi. Author must remember how they represent us in their media. This is the era of media war.

  24. Adnan Ahmad says:
    July 26th, 2010 2:37 pm

    In the context of this game and Mian Muhammad Bakhsh’ eternal verse, I would say sajjans have been dying for the last 15 years – even when they didn’t have to (! remember Sydney :)) – so may be a little bit of khushi even in bad taste can be ignored.. :)

  25. -Farid says:
    July 26th, 2010 3:32 pm

    I thought it was funny, bit of harmless fun – but that’s just me

  26. Watan Aziz says:
    July 26th, 2010 6:38 pm

    But that is not the point. The point is that this Ad has no point. At least no redeeming point.

    Pun intended?

    But I got the point about the pointing out the very pointed Ad by Pepsi playing on the disappointment and pinching on Ricky Thomas “Punter” Ponting.

    But before we pile on Pepsi and pike them to Pluto, what about the publisher? Of the Pakistani paper, The News? He took the paisa for publishing the pointed Ad; should he not be pickled? Publishers have the ply through paid ads for pictorial integrity as well as policing themselves for any potentially politically problematic Pandora’s box. When did the publisher become philanthropist? Piety bound? The paisa was pocketed. Plush amounts, not peanuts. Pox on him? Phew. Not I. But do pluck his brows plentiful.

    Now, I realize the puma knives are out on Pepsi and they are being picked apart for their pointy heads and their professionally weak press and print prefectures. All because putting down with the use of disappointment “Punter” Ponting. Perhaps it was the prominence of the word disappointment which clearly was a packaged packet. Parked them bad, true. Perhaps a prankster copied and pasted and primed the font for pun. Who preconceived it?

    So, to be not be provincial. And to be pillar of “pucca” truth, this is really a “pataka”.

    And from Perth to Palmerston to Penrith to Port Pirie, Pakistanis are loved and Pakistanis pash them back.

    So was it:

    Pepsi’s poor taste? Precisely.

    Pepsi’s poor judgement? Perhaps.

    Pepsi being petty? Probably not.

    Pepsi’s pozzy is plonked for this prezzy. No pav for a thousand parsec.

    Point I am making is pardon them for being in the putty?

    Yes, please!

    Pnough said!

  27. ShahidnUSA says:
    July 26th, 2010 8:20 pm

    This was a light humor even if you were on the receiving side.
    Obviously this was a pakistani top notch ad agencies who know the wit and humor to its core, pleasing their pepsi boses. I hope it didnt go over the heads of average pakistanis. May be I dont know todays pakistan so well then why am I always emphasizing (nice try) in my suddle ways to not be so
    “predictible”. Now the pepsi people know all about what make us happy.

    And offcourse I would not take your gentlemaness as your weakness sir, but are you afraid that the next big punch would come could be from the other side?

    I gotta a big (kangroos ) kick outta it.
    Take it like a man! :-)

  28. ShahidnUSA says:
    July 26th, 2010 10:06 pm

    And its ok to be a little predictable when it comes to a harmless fun :/

  29. Tommo says:
    July 26th, 2010 11:08 pm

    I am Aussie and this is hilarious! Don’t worry guys, we get the humour and give it out a bit (a LOT!) ourselves, we can take as good as we get. Bring on the next series!

  30. p4k1stan says:
    July 27th, 2010 12:07 am where is the insult?

  31. Amed says:
    July 27th, 2010 1:10 am

    Pakistan secretly helping Taliban – report
    Pakistan was actively collaborating with the Taliban in Afghanistan while accepting U.S. aid, new U.S. military reports showed, a disclosure likely to increase the pressure on Washington’s embattled ally…
    Now, that’s DISAPPOINTING !

  32. Adnan says:
    July 27th, 2010 1:20 am


    Since the day you came out as a self-acclaimed policeman after your so called “peace-loving” anti-Facebook ban post, you have started considering yourself something which you actually despise. Yes, you are being another Mullah,obviously a “Liberal Mullah” who is always pumped up to preach no matter what. It proves that there is a “Mullah” in us,some recognize while few don’t.

    Calm down buddy. Oldies like you and Zackintosh don’t need to show up their Mullah Pan one way or other. This is a humor and should be taken as humor

  33. Shuaib says:
    July 27th, 2010 1:23 am

    I totally failed to understand how is it insulting.
    Obviously you are not a serious follower of cricket.
    You have no idea what goes on the field. take a look at the clip and tell me if its not funny.
    take it easy.

  34. Zafar says:
    July 27th, 2010 5:39 am

    I like the add, the only problem is we had one win and that too was given by Australia, there was no effort from our players to have it. May be that is the correct reason for not putting up this ad.

    Wining both matches with good margins, good sound play and then having this ad would have been much more reasonable. With just one win and that too with the efforts of opponent team, I agree this ad is bad taste.

  35. Ben says:
    July 27th, 2010 8:35 am

    You say, its just not cricket. I say its not even advertising. It is in such a bad taste. Its neither funny nor insulting, it shows professional acumen of the advertiser.

  36. Noman says:
    July 27th, 2010 9:36 am

    I don’t think it is particularly insulting. But it is certainly not funny. Cheesy in a second grade (second rate) sort of way. As others have said, what is odd is that it is done by an international company.

    By the way, had Pakistan been some great cricket team that is always winning then this gloating would have made sense, right now what is most pathetic about this is that we are such a bad cricket team that this is more pathetic than funny.

  37. Sohail says:
    July 27th, 2010 2:06 pm

    Australians are the sledging champions of cricket. They have also been dominant in most forms of cricket for the last ten years. After hearing the Aussies gloat every time they win a test match and considering the long wait (15 years) for a win over Australia in a test match, I think this commercial is justified and funny.
    Kangaroo Curry here we come :)

  38. July 27th, 2010 3:03 pm

    Comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “on the basis of morality it is quit disturbing.. but what happen on this morality when Australian cricketers used slang words against any Asian team.why these articles are not written at that point of time ……..?
    not to take seriously ..enjoy the work :)”
    - “Its insulting”
    - “Oh plz stop the moral policing I have seen worst in ausie and english newspapers. I find the add quite cheeky. Was an ausie kfc add ok with u that they made when shahid afridi decided to use the ball as his apple of the day, just don’t criticise for the sake of it. We need humour and banter to again learn to smile, at least when people saw this add they would have smiled. We don’t get many these days when we pick up a news paper. I totally respect ur view but as Pakistani we shouldn’t get apologetic over each and every thing.”
    - “‎”Maybe I am over-reacting.” ? Affirmative .”
    - “meh, calm down, non issue. even ponting would take this one lightly. why are we pakistani’s so hot headed about everything we see and hear…?”
    - “They deserver it, should be tit for tat…..”
    - “Sure, when someone says even the slightest against us we go around burning tires, banning websites, even killing people. Otherther’s of course, need to ‘take the joke’. Sharam karo logo. ”
    - “We are not blind to overlook where the west is discriminating us. It is true that we have made a mockery of ourselves and provided them with the opportunities to make fun of us. But still that doesn’t make them noble and always right. Alhamdolillah we are far better than the rest.”
    - “lets face it, we are too culturally sensitive. we go around killing other people for the slightest of difference of opinion. as they say, we need to calm the **** down.
    cartoons made in netherlands, and some savage mob burns down half of lahore. just flippin awesome.
    the day you just ignore, they’ll leave you alone…
    and no; the ad wasn’t an insult and no need to be apologetic; you’ll be lucky if it even makes it to the australian press.”
    - “hm… we’re far better than the rest?
    we kill minorities, we institutionally discriminate against minorities, our citizens go abroad and kill/try to kill civilians. our gender discrimination goes beyond any levels of morality. and then our perversity, things like:
    happen everyday. and when we try to strengthen laws against gender discrimination, our islamic political parties lobby against them.
    im not saying we’re better or worse than anyone. but we can’t turn a blind eye about our own actions.
    PS: i realize this has little to do with the initial topic. i personally didn’t consider the ad offensive. respect adil najam a lot, but i think he’s overreacting! though the humor is crude…”
    - “Quit overreacting to an Ad. Really people, it is an Ad. This kind of stuff goes on all the time”
    - “Its kind of in slight bad taste but to a point made in the article about adds in British papers etc. As someone who grew up in the UK and witnessed all the controversy during the Waqar/Wasim era let me assure you that this add is positively polite and on the light side. So, I think you are overreacting a little.”
    - “Take it easy mate! Have you not been reading Aussie press?”

  39. Waheed says:
    July 27th, 2010 3:21 pm

    This is clearly bad taste and not even funny. In another country it would just be a case of a bad advertisement, to be ignored. In Pakistan, I think it signifies a larger problem. You and the recent one on Karachi have pointed out the lack of civility and that is what this ad as well as many of the comments show. Everyone is always angry, always discourteous, never careful about how what we say may hurt someone, always shouting, always agitated. And most importantly always vengeful.

    You see that in the silly sentiment that “well they do it, so we should too.” If a three year old says that it is cute, but when grown people actually talk like that you have to wonder where their taleem o tarbiyat got stunted.

    But I guess that is the ‘angry’ Pakistan that we have made for ourselves, and it is really in all of us.

  40. Dilawar says:
    July 28th, 2010 1:50 am

    Very bad taste. Certainly not what you expect from a big corporation like Pepsi.

  41. Jamshed says:
    July 28th, 2010 8:21 am

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Ricky Ponting.The manner in which the Aussies sledge their opponents is not terribly endearing.

  42. Ashish says:
    July 28th, 2010 8:34 am

    Pakistanis have a right to enjoy victory and to harmless fun. This is not hurting anyone. Well played and won deservedly. Wish for more such wins and more happiness.

  43. mrizvi says:
    July 28th, 2010 9:51 pm

    I agree with Adil. Aussie sledging is no justification for an ad like this. Winning is important but winning graciously is more important.

  44. Jamal says:
    July 30th, 2010 11:05 pm

    Is Pepsi going to make an Ad on Pakistan’s pathetic performance against England now.

  45. D.K. says:
    July 31st, 2010 10:20 pm

    I guess the joke in now on Pakistan, given how the team is doing against England!

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