Billboards: the Depiction of Women in Pakistan

Black Backpack – a symbol of terrorism!
January 20, 2010
Morality is the defense of the weak
February 1, 2010

Iman modeling StoneAge Jeans

By Fareeha Qayoom

I

t’s funny. I never noticed it before Adnan, my younger bro, pointed it out to me.

Billboards are just necessary urban cityscape wall paper to me – I hardly notice them. Then, one day, Adnan very disgusted with the whole thing commented, “why do these women have to pose lying down?” For a minute, I didn’t get what he was talking about…we were passing through a T-Junction between Cantt, Cavalry Grounds and DHA. There are huge billboards decorating all angles up in the sky. There was one of Iman, lying down in a provocative pose selling Jeans of all things for a denim label called Stone Age. I just laughed. (It’s probably a technical reason – because the billboards orientation is landscape instead of portrait but even then! They can come up with a reasonable pose. Besides, you could hardly see the cut of the jeans – was it skinny, tapered, boot cut, flare or wide-leg?)


Then, the other day, we were passing the DHA T-Junction, the one that connects Walton, Cantt and DHA, there was a giant billboard, Nadia Hussain (I think its Nadia!) was lying down in another provocative pose, selling embroidered fabric for the label Needle Impressions. We were in a hurry so we couldn’t take a photo. We decided to do it next time. The next time, we remembered to take a photo, it was foggy and a car was in the way. Major bummer!

Photo by Adnan Qayyum - Nadia Hussain modeling Needle Impressions

So, again, we thought, next time, when the next time came, the lady was covered by a large piece of fabric. Someone had covered the billboard with only her face showing! Apparently, other people found the sight offensive too! 🙂

The only thing I find strange about the whole thing is, why these weird poses anyway? The target consumers are women in both these cases, so why would the models be made to pose in provocative fashion for these giant billboards? Even, when they are selling a mattress, the target consumers are again women, (I have never seen men shopping for household furnishings in Pakistan!). It simply strikes me as funny.

Who passes these ads anyway? Men? Don’t they have any common sense? If the objective is to attract women to buy their product, they have to design an ad that actually appeals to women! Besides, it offends men who are passing through the roads.

It wasn’t me who noticed these weird provocative poses – it was Adnan. He was the one who was moved to comment and register his disgust. I found the whole thing worth a few laughs only! 🙂

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of Tkfr.com and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.

13 Comments

  1. You might find this interesting too…

    From the Mughals to massive billboards
    http://blog.dawn.com/2009/09/10/from-the-mughals-to-massive-billboards/

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  2. Aarzoo says:

    hey! this was a fun read …!
    You know i think, if men find the stoneage billboard ‘hot’, a lot of women will want to wear stoneage…sorta like reverse psychology…
    i remember this really weird print ad of stoneage or levi’s–i cant remember….in which the girl has her hands on the guys jeans’ zip…and shes unzipping it…
    real cheap stuff but it went well with their image…i guess

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  3. Hey Aarzoo! 🙂

    Women can still look “hot” standing up or sitting down too…besides, Adnan as a man has no objection to hot women, just to the fact that these guys (advertisers) lack common sense – sometimes, they use women for selling stuff like a car battery when there is no need! 🙂 He thinks its sleazy…he doesn’t like the crudeness and poor taste.

    I find the whole thing kind of funny. 🙂

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  4. Roadshow: Signs of time
    By Rabail Baig
    Sunday, 11 Apr, 2010 | 01:14 AM PST |

    Advertising is the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it. But on Planet Pakistan, as far as billboard marketing is concerned, advertising is the science of arresting human desire long enough for a man to give up the idea of investing in a new BMW and rushing his mother-of-six wife to a lawn exhibition, spending thousands so that she can look even a centimetre like the desirable, pouty goddess who’s endorsing the fabric on the billboard — at least in his head. Or so the advertising agency people think.

    In the naughty noughties, while the world is taking advertising to a whole new level, where brands making lipsticks advertise hope and companies making camera films sell memories, in our repressed part of the world, no matter what we’re making, we’re advertising bony, skimpily clad and extremely aroused women, selling everything from toilet bowl cleaners to burn ointments, in the most provocative way possible.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/the-review/signs-of-time-140

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  5. aamir says:

    well i think reason they portray girls in tight jeans because the guys like the girls in tight jeans. me my self love to see girls in these kind of poses, see these kind of advertisements grab my attention and i buy a few pair of jeans for myself and for my sister from the same shop which is in blue area islamabad.

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  6. bilal says:

    I think guys are already wearing jeans here in pakistan. The thing is that we should promote jeans, Capri and other western dresses and i think its good to have a girl on billboard dressed in tight jeans it will promote jeans in girls.

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  7. asif says:

    very interesting topic and very different too. Here is massive billiboard showing woman behind.It attrack man

    http://www.tshirtwatch.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/americanapparelbillboard.jpg

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  8. irum says:

    i have read the whole topic and comments.I was really surprised by aamir comments that a brother buy a tight pair jeans for her sister, i mean how lucky his sister is, i myself love to wear jeans but my mother and father didnt like it, i have religious kind of family and they like burka for a woman
    which hate alot.

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    • aamir says:

      ooh thats really sad irum.i think there no harm in wearing jeans even if its tight it look ok.you said you wear burka, i have seen lots of girls wearing tight jeans in side burka.i think you should wear it in same way and when your family member is use to it then start wearing it openly simple.i have picture a girl wearing white skinny jeans in side burka…

      http://hipsterhunter.com/INDIA_files/burka%20hipster.jpg

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  9. irum says:

    some more billboard
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5428364&fbid=374444626013&op=1&view=all&subj=355657823585&aid=-1&auser=0&oid=355657823585&id=49969896013

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  10. M(ad) women
    By Batool Zehra
    Published: March 6, 2011

    The Pakistani woman today has more choices open to her than ever before. Not only are more girls opting for higher education, they are actually outperforming their male peers.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/126386/mad-women/

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  11. New debate, old topic…

    Why is a woman’s body needed to sell a cell phone?
    If the idea was to create noise and gain attention/coverage then that was certainly achieved. *Tips hat* Job well done sir/madam… whoever you are

    December 23, 2015, 12:17 pm

    By Shamila Ghayas

    I did not think that this topic would go on for this long but it has and it seems to be rattling everyone’s chain and not for the right reason. As always, social media is abuzz with both sides adamant that theirs is the right one….

    Before the *I am so clever* chums chime in, yes, the above includes me as well.

    I am talking about the now infamous ‘Nargis Fakhri/ does anyone even know what product it is for’ advertisement in a Pakistani Urdu newspaper. (What were they thinking!)

    http://nation.com.pk/blogs/23-Dec-2015/why-is-a-woman-s-body-needed-to-sell-a-cell-phone

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  12. hmmm….

    Ufone’s Nargis Fakhri ad spoof goes viral

    Ufone has managed to capture the attention of the masses once again with its marketing campaign that has gone viral today. The company took advantage of the recent Nargis Fakhri advert that had become one of the most widely discussed topics on social media lately to create a hilarious version of the advert. Faisal Qureshi can be seen to be posing in the exact same manner as Nargis Fakhri in Ufone’s advert.

    http://nation.com.pk/entertainment/28-Dec-2015/ufone-s-nargis-fakhri-advert-goes-viral

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