Is this Supposed to be Funny? Or Insulting?

Posted on July 25, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Media Matters, Sports
Total Views: 37036

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 responses to “Is this Supposed to be Funny? Or Insulting?”

  1. D.K. says:

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

  2. Jamal says:

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

  3. mrizvi says:

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

  4. Ashish says:

    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.

  5. Jamshed says:

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

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