Masha’Allah, there are many different pockets of people speaking out about this rising tide of insensitivity in advertising. Below is an email from a colleague (her identity is referred to as K.O. for the purpose of this post) about Hiba Magazine’s efforts in rousing people towards this cause. Let’s join hands and do this collectively. The whole is greater than the sum, Insha’Allah.
HIBA Magazine has been doing a "Raise you Voice" section in their magazine for a while now. Their initiative is to write to companies who use distasteful and inappropriate advertising to sell their products.
We are all aware of the alarming increase in obscenity and vulgarity in our media – particularly advertising. Are we not going to do anything about it?
We must wake up from our complacent slumber and raise our voice. Do we have any other choice? Please ask your circle of influence to raise their voice.
A sample email written to Gul Ahmed Textiles is at the end of this message.
May Allah help and guide us all and may He write us among those who stand up for His deen. Ameen
Raise your Voice
For this month’s “Raise your Voice” we are sending the following letters:
1. Omore Icecream: We sent a letter to Engro Foods, complaining about their recent advertisement of Omore. We emphasized that ridiculous dancing does little to advertise ice-cream, but does loads to promote the wrong values. You can send a letter of protest against this advertisement to their ad agency at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. To complain to the parent company, send an email to: email@example.com. You can also complain at the Engro website at:
2. Gul Ahmed Textiles: We sent a letter to Gul Ahmed Textiles to protest against their billboard at Punjab Chowrangi, Clifton (among other places). You can also send in your letters / emails to:
Mr. Huzaifa Essabhai
Gul Ahmed Textile Mills Ltd
H.T/4 Landhi Industrial Area Karachi-75120
Ph: +92-21-111485485 Ext-6536
3. Master Molty Foam: It was brought to our attention that the Master Molty Foam ad is also highly vulgar and distasteful. If you have seen this advertisement, please write to
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to register your protest.
4. Nando’s: Has anyone noticed the alarming frequency with which the Nando’s advertisements and flyers have started to feature the phrase “hot chicks”? We sent them a strong letter of condemnation against this use of phrase.
5. Accessorize: This international brand apparently did not consider local values when it placed a front page advertisement in Metropolitan, Dawn. We sent them an educational letter, requesting them to revamp their advertisements in line with the values of the country, where they are advertising. Do send them this request also,
6. Pepsi Cola International: Huge, glaring billboards of Slice Mango Juice are a torture to the eyes. We are sending them a letter through their website, requesting them to emphasize more on the product than on the model. Interestingly, they wrote back to us, giving us a specific address/phone number to complain on. Here it is now. Please write to them too:
National Bank of Fujairah Bldg.
Khalid Ibn Al Waleed Road
P.O. Box 11330 Dubai
United Arab Emirates
Phone: (971 4) 3971 666
Fax: (971 4) 3972 048
7. Pakola: Last year, we wrote to Pakola Milk commending them on a billboard, which was without a single model. This year, they have re-introduced the billboards, with glaring images of models. We are sending a letter of disappointment to them. You can also get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Sample E-Mail to Gul Ahmed Textile
Date: Mon, 31 May 2010 11:43:52 +0600
I am a fan and loyal customer of Gul Ahmed fabrics and products. Your name has been synonymous with good quality and value for money. However, I am disappointed at the current trend in your marketing. The use of female sexuality to sell products is a cheap gimmick – does it really add value to your product? If so, then what value? Is it worth challenging the religious and cultural sensibilities of your customers? And yes, majority of your customers do get outraged by billboards and catalogues selling NOT just lawn but sex. As a woman, I am appalled to see my kind being so unashamedly exploited to sell stuff.
Gul Ahmed has been a business leader of this country for decades. You do not need to jump on the bandwagon of distasteful and morally corrupt advertising campaigns. In fact one expects you to lead the industry with an example of ethical business practices.
You must consider this seriously.
(A concerned citizen and customer of Gul Ahmed)
Ever get the feeling that you’re slipping down a slippery slope, and there is not a handhold or a foothold in sight?
I remember that billboard for Jazz, put up at the intersection of KalaPul and Shahrah-e-Faisal many years ago, with a lady talking suggestively on the phone. Every time I would pass by it, I would wish that someone would do something about it. I did nothing about it. One day, I heard that it caught fire. Stories went around that some disgruntled fundos did it. And I wished I was one of them.
For some time, the ads became a little more decent. And then the deluge began. With cell phone companies leading the way, mattress peddlers, soft drink makers and just about everyone else began TV ads, billboards etc with women giving the come hither look to the poor unsuspecting men, just to sell some airtime minutes.
Soon to follow, Indian movies moved out of drawing room VCRs to our cinema halls. And women anchors on TV talk shows wearing T-Shirts. And then, women in tight clothes were all around, going to schools selling Red Bull, approaching you in shopping malls selling shampoo, and so on….
I thought the women’s liberation movement was all about liberating women from the exploitation of men. But I look around me in the year 2010 and I see beautiful women being used to sell wares. This selling is not through intelligent persuasion but through subliminal targeting and manipulation. So this is liberation?
This probably sounds like a tempest in a teacup to those who don’t remember the days before that Jazz ad. Indecency does not shock us anymore, because it is everywhere. Much less than stopping it with our hands, or speaking out against it, we often neglect to even think of these as bad in our hearts.
If things are to change, we need to be that change.
There is an ad campaign on TV these days selling Omore ice-cream, in which young men and women in tight clothes do gymnastic dance moves, to sell ICE-CREAM cones! I find it distasteful (the ad – haven’t tried the ice-cream). Yet, I was complacent. Then I received an email from a friend, informing me of a kind soul who started an email campaign to urge Engro Foods to pull that commercial. And I did the same. And I felt like it was the first blow I struck, insignificant as it was.
If we are to stop this exploitation of our sisters and daughters, we must speak out against it wherever we see it. And to back up those words with actions such as choosing a competing product in protest.
If you share my view, kindly write a polite email to Engro Foods, asking them to pull the ads because they offend our religious and cultural sensibilities. You may send these to Mr. Rehan (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please remember to be polite but firm. Kindly send a Bcc to email@example.com, so that he can monitor how much pressure we are exerting. And spread the word to your circle of family and friends, so that they may speak up too.