November Issue 2009

By | Arts & Culture | Published 14 years ago

“Shanaakht is a fantastic and much-needed initiative, and I have been an avid supporter since 2007′s initial festival.”  — Amber Rauf

After spending the last seven years creating iconic brands at Lowe & Rauf, Amber Rauf knows what she’s talking about. Her docu-reel Chai, Cricket aur Hum, which explores Pakistan’s cultural identity as depicted by ads, will be showing daily at Shanaakht from November 9-11. She speaks to Newsline about how advertising both influences and is inspired by society and about the changes in advertising over the years.

Could you tell us a little bit about the documentary, especially, which ads you have used and how you weaved them together to form a narrative?

Chai, Cricket aur Hum is a docu-reel of Pakistani advertising that celebrates our diversity and highlights our unity. It shares communication that crosses social barriers and brings together a passionate and multi-ethnic nation of a 170 million.

“Hamari shanaakht kya hai?” Through narration and music I have woven a connection between Pakistani collective identity and popular culture by asking, “What binds us together?” This is visually supported by imagery from a cross-section of commercials that depict the richness of our culture, our passion for cricket and the degree to which tea is intrinsically blended into every aspect of our lives.

Do you think advertising is representative of popular culture or are there occasions when it may actually shape culture?

That’s a bit like the chicken and egg question. We draw from and reflect what we see in society and also use advertising to shape thoughts and perceptions in a subtle and unobtrusive way. We want audiences to both say, “That’s me!” and “I should do that!”

Out of all the ads featured in the documentary, which was your favourite?

Since the piece is a montage, some of the ads are in their entirety, while I have shown just a glimpse and a hint of some others. I have pretty much chosen what I myself connect to as an advertising professional, a consumer and a Pakistani.

Has advertising in Pakistan changed over the years in terms of production quality, content, etc?

Advertising is as developed as one’s society and environment. With Pakistan, advertising has been cyclic, moving with the country’s economic, political and social tides. Technology has definitely made an impact on our production values, and yes, content has matured to a great extent.

Shanaakht Festival events mentioned in this interview:

Film Exhibition
The inextricable link between our culture, cricket and tea as seen through a series of advertisements
By Amber Rauf from Lowe and Rauf


Nadir Hassan is a Pakistan-based journalist and assistant editor at Newsline.