Back in the day, PTV hosted some of the most iconic and unadulterated advertisements in Pakistan's history.
Before Cable TV made it big, there was a time when households in the country only had access to one local channel – that channel being PTV. This changed in 1988 with the launch of PTN (People’s Television Network), later renamed STN.
For a decade, PTV and STN ruled the roost. Our local channels, primarily PTV, were host to some of the most iconic advertisements in Pakistan’s history.
Below is a take on eight of the most memorable advertisements from that time, taking a trip down memory lane and reminding us all of a happier Pakistan.
8) Shield Toothbrush
Most of us would remember this advertisement as one from the 1990s.
It’s from the 1980s.
The fact that this advertisement has always been associated with the 1990s is a testament of how it was ahead of its time.
One of the initial advertisements, Dentonic being the very first, with a jingle in English that made it big in Pakistan, Shield has remained synonymous with toothbrushes in Pakistan since, which in no small part is down to this classic advertisement.
7) Naz Pan Masala
Featuring the ever-graceful Arifa Siddiqui in her youth, this advertisement along with the State Life advertisement, have produced, arguably, the greatest jingles in our advertisement industry. The strength of this advertisement can be judged from the fact that there have been countless attempts to reproduce it with new models and actors while using the same jingle but none of them come even close to the impact of the original advertisement.
6) Gillette Blue 2
Featuring Muhammad Ali of the pop band Fringe Benefits, the punch line of this advertisement has managed to stand the test of time and remain arguably the most famous Gillette advertisement in Pakistan. This despite the fact that it was released, what seems like, ages ago.
Simple, Short, Superb.
5) Pepsi: Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis
If there is any brand that has been omnipresent on our television screens, it is Pepsi. Not only has Pepsi been a sponsor for our cricket team for what seems like forever, it has also sponsored some of our most prominent music artists. It is, perhaps, fitting that a Pepsi advertisement makes it to this list.
The advertisement features three of the greatest fast bowlers world cricket saw – Imran, Wasim and Waqar. Imran schools his two protégés in classic white cricket kits after both of them hurl bouncers at him and as a bunch of young kids look on, one of them says the now memorable
For anyone born in the mid-1980s and young enough to witness Imran’s final days as a cricketer, the dream was to be that very kid.
4) State Life
Just like the jingle from Naz Pan Masala, the ‘Ay Khuda Meray Abu Salaamat Rahain’ jingle in State Life’s advertisement too has stood the test of time. Insurance companies in Pakistan have put up a number of advertisements on television, a fact helped by the rise of the number of companies operating in the mentioned industry these days, but none have dished out an advertisement that remains as memorable as this one.
Amongst the long line of advertisements on dental products in Pakistan, and the list really is magnanimously long, no advertisement has been able to top the sheer impact of the Dentonic advertisement. Not only was it amongst the first completely animated advertisements in Pakistan, the main character has gone on to leave a permanent print on the memory of every advertising enthusiast and professional in Pakistan.
It is easily the most iconic ‘brand ambassador’ in Pakistan’s advertisement history and the industry has struggled to create anything on the same level since. The closest attempt was the cat used in Ding Dong Bubble gum advertisement but after its initial impact, it went on to suffer from a rather slow overkill.
2) Morven Gold: Rhythm Of Unity
Produced by Morven Gold cigarettes, and shot almost completely at the Lahore Fort, this advertisement had an aesthetic sense that was unfound in our advertisement industry at the time. No dialogue, brilliant folk music, scenic surroundings and an ocean of red and yellow.
When it first appeared on our television screens, it was well and truly ahead of any other advertisement of its time. Even when you watch it today, there’s an aura of unadulterated brilliance about this advertisement. It portrayed a message of national unity, dancers from our four different provinces playing their traditional instruments, moving to their traditional dances and tunes but all wearing the same clothing, uniting in one umbrella.
It’s one of those brilliant advertisements that would have worked on both radio and TV, simply because of its brilliance both musically and visually.
1) Wasim Akram: No-Smoking
It is ironic that the most memorable advertisement of the mentioned era, and arguably the greatest advertisement our country has ever produced, was not made to advertise a product. It was a public service message by Pakistan’s Ministry of Health.
Featuring a young Wasim Akram, it was shot at Lahore’s historical Model Town Park. Long after he appeared as Lucy in the famous sitcom ‘Teen Bataa Teen’ people realised that the young boy asking Wasim the now memorable ‘Wasim Bhai Aap Thaktay Nahee?’ line was, infact, Adeel Hashmi himself, a regular on Pakistan’s advertisement circuit these days.
For everyone who saw this advertisement when it was aired on PTV back in the day, watching it today brings back nostalgia not associated with any other advertisement. Perhaps it was the link with cricket, perhaps it was the brilliant music or perhaps it was the freshness of not having a product but whatever the case may be, it will forever remain a part of our memories as one of the most brilliant things we ever saw on our television screens.
Nostalgic, iconic and unmatched in every sense of the word.
Cricket buff, retro music fan and an aspiring writer.