Development of Advertising in Pakistan

Q.5 Describe the development of advertising in Pakistan. How is it similar or different from rest of the world?


Development of Advertising in Pakistan:

Big organizations in Pakistan had a restricted spectrum of advertising alternatives for a substantial number of years and electrifying original media frequently obtainable all through the globe were as good as unheard of. However, al that became the past in the late nineties as the need for unique types of ads grew as a bigger number of organizations competed for a portion of the spreading market. One such form was digital printing that could be employed for many indoor and outdoor purposes.

Outdoor ads and store signage in Pakistan were mostly oil painted and were challenged with different concerns such as fading of colors and mediocre composition, with most hoardings and shop frames being manufactured with low gauge metal sheets or plastic. A number of sign manufacturers offered top quality signs with accurately painted visuals, but the effort it consumed to construct these signs was huge because of the physical process.

One other established type of outdoor advertising was neon with significant visual effects, like lighting several colors, shown on signs. The neon sector was flourishing prior to the start of digital print media in Pakistan in spite of numerous integral difficulties. Neon displays were most valuable at nighttime and provided little in terms of thrill through the day and were fairly high on repair expenses with neon tubes needing replacement pretty regularly.

The third largely prevalent type of advertising in Pakistan comprised offset printed posters, which were mostly consumed indoors or applied in huge quantities on municipal walls. Offset posters were however inadequate in height and width and were challenged with issues such as color fading and damaging too easily. Even the finest quality displays did not sustain their originality for more than a tiny number of days.


Screen-printing for posters was also well established in Pakistan. While automated techniques were utilized everywhere on the globe, Pakistan’s sector was still essentially a labor-intensive process. Screen-printing was convenient and widely attainable in the major cities. However, the quality was critically below average and much the same as the other established media faced issues like color fading and regular theft.

The primary digitally printed large billboards or skins, as regularly alluded to in the business, were obtained from international organizations in countries like Australia. The impression generated by these exquisite quality skins was the beginning of a swift and much required transformation in the advertising sector in Pakistan. Organizations rushed to arrange orders for printed signs and the face of outdoor media in Pakistan totally changed from then on. Within some years Pakistan had some of its own limited print shops and with economical technologies quite easily purchasable from China, the printing sector turned into an established and beneficial industry.

Advertising in troubled times:


The last decade has seen rapid transformation in the advertising industry. Media development, especially brisk advances in alternate social media, has altered the way both corporations and consumers treat advertisement. In varying forms, it has become one of the most essential components of the corporate economy.

There is nothing glamorous, rosy and fancy about this industry – advertising, in simple word is nothing more than just a plain ‘communication.’ Advertising has no boundaries, it is not confined to some specific sectors and businesses only; rather it can be attached to anything present in this world, including feelings and emotions. It is highly imaginative and exclusive amalgamation of public service and marketing strategies.


Despite innovations, its basic theme has remained consistent. It is a form of communication used to persuade audiences to take action with respect to products, ideas, or services. The desired result is to drive consumer behavior regarding commercial offerings. However, with time its intensity has increased. Specialised advertisement organisations have mushroomed and competition is intense. Companies tend to spend increasing amounts on marketing and advertisement strategies. Led by multinationals, the advertisement industry has become enormously complex and successfully impacts consumer behaviour to a large extent.

Over 25 years of my professional experience, I have experienced several trends and shifts in the industry from close proximity. I feel that the legacy of communication has unfolded over the past few decades, leaving unconventional prints in the history of advertising. With the high involvement of technology and advanced media, several new communication channels have exploded over time.

Regardless of the fluctuations of the market and advancements of communication channels, the significance of advertisement remains the same. It is a general belief that advertising during economic downturns is illogical, whereas in actual fact it provides impetus to a struggling economy.

Advertising plays a vital role in every country’s economy as it is practically the most effective tool for communicating with end consumers directly. It is the crucial element that initiates the economic cycle, resulting in the success for industry and therefore the economy. It creates awareness of brands, thus accelerating their sales. The sales bring profit to companies that result in the expansion of the whole industry. The expansion, ultimately, helps the economy to grow and jobs opportunities start flourishing, thus strengthening buying power of the consumers. The buying power then leads to overall sustainable economical growth.

In Pakistan, advertising is strongly affected as corporate companies are rapidly deducting budgets. It is believed that advertising is not one of the essential pillars of industry. This belief is partially due to lack of education and limited revenues whereas to my knowledge every company’s growth has a relationship of direct proportionality with advertising success.

In crisis lies opportunity, and Pakistan’s present predicament offers positive prospects to the advertisement industry as well as corporations. If companies employ this industry in the right manner, they can stimulate commercialism at a time when the economy is in severe need of the spending multiplier. Also, as the ad-industry expands, it will tap creative talent and provide employment opportunities, triggering activity that benefits the economy as a whole. As I see it, advertising is a dynamic and diverse profession where every day brings new creative challenges.

Talking specifically about the economy of Pakistan, at this stage it is not only necessary for corporate companies to increase investments in advertising, but it is also essential for them to start believing in what miracles the advertising can do.

Similar or Different from rest of the world

Advertising is an expression and part of an economic system. Each economic system has an interesting relationship with the social system, political system and cultural value. Whatever be the character of the economic system, there are three basic features which are common to all:

a) determination of goods and services and the quantities to be produced or offered;

b) allocation of resources according to priorities of production-mainly land, labor and capital; and

c) distribution of goods and services among individuals and groups. We are not concerned here about the relative importance of state intervention and market determination of these three processes.

These three processes condition the development of every society. Advertising is a major component of each one of these three processes. If advertising is a process of mediation between the producer of goods and services and the consumer, to that extent it contributes to the development not merely of the economy but also of society. If we look at development as the overall transformation of society and not merely as the statistical growth of the economy, or the gross domestic product, or the per capita income, then all advertising is socially relevant.

Modern advertising is a product of the capitalist economic system, in which the operation of the free market by and large determines the three basic features of the economic system, referred to above. It is in this context that advertising operates. When we say that modern advertising is a product of the capitalist system, it means that it serves the socio-economic needs of mass industrial production for a mass market. This situation was created by the industrial revolution under capitalism. By serving such an economic system, advertising also promotes this system. We must also remember that advertising would continue to play the same role in different economic system, as long as goods and services are produced and offered for sale in the market.

Mass production demands a mass market and a mass distribution system. The very survival of this production system demands its continuous expansion. Such an expansion means also the expansion of the market, beyond the seats of production and even beyond the boundaries of the country. This may be called the horizontal, spatial or geographical expansion of the market. Such an expansion’ is both national and international. At the same time there is also a vertical expansion of the market. The objective is to bring the entire society within the orbit of the market. This does not mean only providing the individual or the family with the resources to purchase goods and services in the market. A disposable surplus is not enough. A ‘psychic desire’ to consume more and different products has also to be created. Expansion of the market also means the creation of new goods and services and making them acceptable to the consumer. Without such a continuous expansion of the market, the capitalist economy cannot survive. This is a constant process of the renewal and increase of capital passing through the market.

For this, people have to be informed, motivated and persuaded. With a mass market, national and international, this is only possible through a specialized communication system. Thus, modem advertising evolved, to meet precisely this requirement of the capitalist economic system. Its social relevance in the industrialist/capitalist system is to direct the desires of human beings, latent and expressed, and their needs, in such a way, as to ensure the continuation and expansion of sales of goods and services, so essential to sustain mass production by accumulated capital. Advertising is thus an integral Component of the mass distribution system of industrial capitalism. In the process of bringing consumers in touch with products or services, advertising also helps create new consumers. Thus, it is involved in the social production of consumers, on which industrial capitalism thrives. Advertising is thus not only a product of industrial capitalism, but also its promoter.

Industrial capitalism, for the very purpose of its growth and survival, has had to bring together and integrate the multi-structured, disintegrated pre-capitalist society into the mass market. It is this process that has created the nation-state. By bringing together mass production and the mass of consumers, advertising has historically played a significant role in this process of integration and nation building. By creating a common ‘psychic desire’ to consume, it has succeeded in bridging the gap between diverse social and cultural behavior patterns, thus nurturing a homogeneous national culture. To industrial capitalism and advertising the human being is primarily a consumer. In the market place there is no difference, in essence, among human beings in social or economic terms. They are all consumers.

The human being in the market place is at the receiving end of a veritable barrage of messages aimed at the unquestioned acceptance of a way of life and a value system. Advertising does not sell goods or services but the benefits derived from them. These benefits might be inherent in the product or service, or purely psychological; a creation of the images conjured up by advertising. The promotion of a psychology of more and more consumption sustains also a value system, which is based on ruthless competition of individual achievement, which alone enables ever-expanding consumption of an increased range and variety of goods and services. It such a way of life that alone can sustain an economic system based on the sole objective of maximization of profits. In this entire environment, the relevance of advertising is not only economic, but also social and cultural, and in the final analysis., even political. After all a particular economic structure can be sustained by a relevant political structure.

From the logic of these arguments emerge certain specific aspects of the role of advertising in a capitalist economy as a catalyst of development. First, advertising serves a social and even developmental purpose by providing people with information about goods and services available and also about new products and services. Secondly, advertising stimulates the economy -and is thus an instrument of development. Without advertising or marketing communication, products and services could not be sold in sufficient quantities. Without sales, factories would close down causing unemployment. This would further reduce demand and lead to further closing down of factories and a chain reaction would set in. On the other hand, advertising promotes sales. Higher sales mean more production, lower costs and economies of scale. This creates conditions for lower prices and hence more sales and more employment. As such this ensures the growth of the economy.

Thirdly, advertising is a component of a democratic society. The essence of democracy is that people have a choice and the right to exercise that choice. In the democratic economic system a variety of goods and services is available to choose from. Advertising enables the consumer to make the choice. The fourth aspect follows, in a way, from the third. Advertising creates conditions for every human being to acquire earned rewards. The way of life, that advertising opens up, provides motivation for hard work to earn enough to achieve such a way of life. This too is a democratic right-the right to spend one’s earnings the way one likes and where a democratic system is expected to provide opportunities for the exercise of such a right.

From the fourth aspect follows the fifth. Advertising stimulates productivity. Harder work to earn more to achieve socially upward mobility, stimulated by advertising, naturally leads to higher productivity. This in turn stimulates the economy and development. Finally, all these add up to social change. We must, however, bear in mind the reality that all these factors can operate only under ideal conditions. The market does not and cannot always reflect the real social demand. This is because capitalist enterprises in the advanced industrialized countries have become so powerful and the search for maximum profits is so predominant’ a concern, that they often decide what goods and services should be brought into the market so as to secure the maximum profit with the least investment. In such a system, every single one of the aspects of the role of advertising mentioned above gets distorted to some extent. In such a situation advertising creates a demand, which may not be economically or socially relevant for the immediate needs of the vast majority of the people, and hence the nation. Advertisements tell consumers what to buy. With emergence of monopolies, competition is often eliminated and advertising manipulates the consumer, giving him or her no opportunity to exercise a rational choice.

In such a situation, advertising becomes a major economic activity. As you advertise more, faster the expansion of the market, profitable volume of sales and recovery of investment in research and development. The nature of the economy in which such a situation prevails, though interrupted by increasingly longer periods of imbalances, has been described in a study of USA’s needs and resources by the 20th Century Fund: “In a scarcity economy the consumer needs no conditioning to make him want enough food to keep him alive, sufficient clothing and shelter to keep warm. But in an economy of luxury and plenty, the consumer has to be persuaded to want, for example, an electric blanket, with separate thermostatic control for each side of the bed, or an air-conditioned automobile with power steering and a hydraulic drive. This constant ‘education’ of the consumer to desire products never heard of before is just as essential to the smooth functioning of an economy which is geared to turn out a steady flood of new and different products as are an adequate supply of electric energy and plentiful raw materials.

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