Safar Badnamah, Season 1, Episode 14: “Ahh Billboards again …”

Sunday, October 31, 2010 Hiba Moeen 2 Comments

Today as I got done with my ‘Emerging Media’ rib cage shattering, mouth collapsing humourous class I realized that I would get roasted again to wait for my bus … well that I later did unlike after fourth time slot classes when the stupid bus doesn’t come at all anymore …

While I was getting barbecued, there was still hope to get the bus though over whelmed with the target audience of Sea View but I thank God that this class of mine starts in the morning to end at an appropriate time when the situation isn’t as bad … you know… tiny feet filled with wet sand and exchange of coconut pieces within the enormous family of families … ‘The Khaaandaaaaaan’ all in one bus.

This time I didn’t observe much because I dozed off within a few minutes of being privileged with having a seat. Thanks to the electricity loadshedding situation it’s difficult to keep a balance between work and sleep. Since I go through a logging off session at times, it is my duty of utmost importance to guard my mouth which thankfully stays shut during these power naps in the bus … I have seen people sleeping, falling to sides and worst of all with their mouths so wide open so as to reveal the throat tunnels and teeth … I feel bad for these people especially when I try to imagine myself in their position which is never happening in reality for God’s sake.

What I did recall was the billboards I observed a few days ago and those awfully cheap songs again. Why do some Pathans have a taste for Indian cheap songs that no one listens to. I remember this song from last week’s ride:

“Tum agar saamnay aa bhi jaya karo, laazmi hai kay mein bhi pardah karoon. Shaadi kay din abb kareeb haen!”
I mean what the hell is this? Don’t make me translate this crap, it was already buzzing on top of my head and some things have a tendency to later buzz inside your head because their ‘annoyance’ has a good recall.

 What I really liked was StoneAge’s ‘Perfect Fit’ and ‘Relaxed Fit’ billboards. The former shows a figure of a girl some would want to kill to get while some fat people like me would want such perfect looking jeans to fit them someday and enhance their esteem or social needs. Yes I know what you are thinking: … “Whateverrrrr! Maslow’s hierarchy” The painful looking stilettos worn are … well … painful.

Similarly, when we see along the same product lines, there is Levi’s billboard regarding recycling, ‘Recycle Happiness’. I wish I could take a picture with my ‘hoping to be replaced with Nokia, Sony Ericsson mobile phone. I want to sell it for Rs. 100 and buy popcorns.
Well that was an attracting billboard too.

Then there was this billboard by McDonald’s about their value deals which don’t seem value generating at all especially when you buy Sundae and find it half empty. Oh common let’s be optimistic here, it’s ‘half fully filled!’

Teddy Charles name still endorses Sunsilk’s billboard just outside the cemetery, the surroundings need it … ghosts need a reason to flaunt off their hair or decide for the sweet melon fragrance Pantene instead, both choices are right there ‘fighting’ for their brand.

Last but not the least, Panadol decided to make use of it’s OTC status by advertising … ‘Maira Bharosa’ … The billboard plays a reminder function to have this food in your bag to kill migraine produced by bad weather or by the weirdest songs played in the bus …


Nazia the Vampiress - "There is no Escape” (Season 1, Episode 6)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

Nazia was concerned and wanted to tell Toots something very important. However, her mind was prey to too much of thinking … she just couldn’t stop thinking all the time and was finding out ways how to tell her. It was a weird situation characterized by mental turmoil since she felt she couldn’t even stop thinking while even sleeping, most commonly known as ‘vamleeping’ in her terminology which means vampire sleep. If vampires sleep at night they sleep with their eyes open, however, blood hunting is most appropriate at that time.

It was mid semester and time to get more active not just in studies but also for new preys which were not supposed to be cats like in case of Scrooge (Akbar). Some friends had nicknamed him that as per his perceived positioning. 

It was time to spam potential employers with her resume and she made sure none of them were even given a slightest hint that she is a vampiress. She happened to mention in one and the only interview so far that she blogs and writes vampire stories, even though she didn’t reveal her true identity there was no call again from that place. So far so good, it wasn’t meant for her to work at that place either …

At the same time Nazia was trying to make peace with her past (first few episodes) but the low feeling dragged her back to those ‘How Cow’ incident memories. It was something that affected her sense of smell too.

“Hey Toots you know what? Have you thought about why the cats are disappearing from here? Have you thought about asking Scrooge?” asked Nazia.

“Ummm … don’t know but why should I ask Scrooge? He’s not really fond of cats, you are the one stalking them,” said Toots in a mocking and mischievous fashion.

“Maybe he doesn’t show how fond of cats he is while he could be thirsty for them,” Nazia gave a hint still trying not to make it very obvious but the last time both of them met him he was high on cat blood … having pink dreams with a paper umbrella behind his ears. He must have thought it’s the cat’s tail he consumed a night before, however, there was this one big, very, very … as in very huge, obese cat in one of the campuses of school that he dared not touch, Scrooge was scared of it and only waited for it’s each semester kittens. It was wonderfully overweight that relied upon left over biscuits and biryani and even tea.

Toots thought for a while then shot Nazia fiery looks, “I think I know what his birthday gift should be . . . a kitten!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah I hope it survives . . .” said she in a low tone.

“Hey what?”

“Nothing …”

“You know you need to be loud not just in classes but in life as well.”

Nazia had no option but to feel pity for the kitten, she had tried her best to give signals about his identity but failed miserably yet again. 

 There was a new competition in town, yes, the dengue mosquito that destroyed platelets, it was time for vampires to come to terms with the these upgraded versions of mosquitoes since at least they (vampires) only made complete humans anemic only rather than start living on blood cells.

More of the differences included that vampires attack around midnight or after fourth time slot classes while dengue mosquitoes were punctual with their 6 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 10 pm timings. Victims are advised never to use Dispirin but rather use Paracetamol while vampire bites only need lemon juice applied to the affected area and sprinkled with some salt too to undermine the effect.

Vampires are characterized by another trait, their teeth grow longer at night and they can’t help but smile. Nazia and Scrooge had started using straws on some old, loose skin just like on the oral communication sweet blooded prey, however, Scrooge had just got a teeth whitening treatment due to which he only preferred them to reflect light for the time being since he was inspired by a tooth paste advertisement.

What really had been annoying was her neighbour who smoked midnight onwards to her utmost furor and not that she would have preferred a smokers blood, she was making him suffer from slow death … she was drilling 0.25 mm holes in her jugular vein and draining him out on a fortnightly basis when one night she overheard him while he was running his daily chores in the kitchen, “Begum these mosquitoes have become very notorious, they bite me as if they are drilling holes in my neck.”

“You have lost your mind, you better concentrate on making the chapattis round,” she scoffed, “Pakhair raaghlay (you are welcome),” she continued in her native tongue.

This persuaded Nazia to make the holes bigger and invite more from the vampire community to feast upon him. 

A fellow vampire had once revealed the process of freezing her preys with the help of the video she sent:

Classes on Sunday were not boring anymore especially when it was a course she liked, though the hectic routine of the night made her look impaled by victim blood reaction but no one noticed. Early morning caffeine intake used to settle her since the school canteen didn’t cater to the niche coffee consuming market or blood for that matter.

Mr. Sinclair’s Sunday classes were fun to attend with yawning faces and targeted jokes, however, it was outright disrespect for the teacher to have some student yawning right in front his very face and she abhorred it because vampires respect teachers, at least most of them. Mr. Sinclair also had a favourite student in class, the much awaited popular student who used to stalk Facebook at night and wake up late for class, he had more of those vampire attributes too but Nazia was sure to tell herself that humans could be as gone as vampires and that she needed not worry. The teacher always waited for him as he brought along some industry knowledge, not that everybody understood it. 

“Get some beauty sleep now!’Nazia had to tell him the night before class while trying to apply this statement to herself but in vain, beauty sleep meant early morning hours or early night hours dedicated to bed for her. 

She wished Toots could have taken this course with her and had been struck by a spree of nostalgia.

She was learning ‘Digital Vampirism’ in this course or at least she thought that way due to the very nature of being able to find the right target audience online while she preferred twisting the learning in her own interest. Vampires are passionate bloggers and stay up late at night often to blog also due to the ‘blogging vows’ they have made, however, not all bloggers are vampires. The teacher who taught her class about blogging in the elective ‘Blogging for Mankind’ was definitely not a vampire and she made sure he was kept out of the vampire vicinity.

“Helleow!!! We have to go to hospitals again to steal blood samples, platelets are in menu these days.” Read Scrooge’s text message one night.

“Yes let’s plan a day, in fact, a night to scare more house officers like we did before,” replied Nazia, "Listen ... have you watched Engro Rupiya's ad? Isn't it brilliant? But don't you think it's haraam (prohibited) especially when they linked it with Hajj?" asked she.

"Look who is talking about Hajj! A vampire! Muha ... muhaha .... well again ... muhahaha!" teased Scrooge.

"Hey I'm still more human than a vampire you still immature, unbranded vampires!" she scoffed.

Nazia really feared having known about herself by other mature vampires as they belonged to an elite community and made their presence felt in the much feared world, they also got hold of young vampires and branded them ‘Vampy’ on their wrists. 

Similarly, vampires usually have this strong sense of smell which they use to locate other vampires. Nazia was thus feeling ‘vampyrations’, the recognition vibrations felt when another fellow vampire was nearby or trying to locate other vampires. She could not however smell back as to who was trying to locate her because she was still 75% human and the ‘How Cow’ accident (first episode) had affected the smelling sense and the vampire locator hormone.
Her phone buzzed, in fact, vibrated since it was crippled by the brand name, Sony Ericsson, the name was the only factor to reveal how pathetic the phone could get. Ok . . . ok, it vibrated . . . with a late night message,

“You seem like a vampire too! See you can’t hide from another vampire!!! Bloooooooood time!” it read.

She was dumbfounded at being discovered by another vampire and the fact that they were two now, Scrooge and now him both belonging to the same school she was going to and there sure would have been more female vampires. Vampires find each other …


Just when she was about to try to sleep there was a knock on the window …

Disclaimer: All characters in this story are imaginary. Any resemblance to anyone dead, undead, haunting or trying to live is simply a coincidence. Don't start assuming things, try educated guesses . . . =P


Sunsilk vs. Pantene: “My baby is fairer than yours!”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 Hiba Moeen 7 Comments

Photo courtesy:

I know it’s a bit late to talk about the billboard wars now but some things never fail to fascinate you while failing to persuade you to by their product. Yes! I am talking about the guerilla marketing and naughty kiddo fight started by Sunsilk, that’s interesting to quite an extent and from many aspects of marketing.

It’s like the final ‘Report Day’ when some parents fanatically compare their kid’s report cards with other nerd kid’s or when relatives having the same age group children get involved in a frenzy of cousin comparison at every stage of life . . . or more precisely put, when moms compare their babies’ skin colour, trust me it happens . . . “My baby is fairer than yours!”

Just when Pantene flaunted off it’s billboard with the “You Try, You Decide” campaign, Sunsilk felt the urge of expanding the Telecom war beyond the scope of their industry. In fact the rebuttal “Tried and Decided” doesn’t seem to have any profound effect on the intended target audience.
First of all there’s nothing new about a product that claims to have ‘improved’, ‘new’ or ‘magical’ features or attributes added, it’s merely a tactic to pull the brand from slipping down the slide of the product life cycle from maturity/saturation to decline. Thus, having endorsers to attract the bored customers (those who can relate to these ladies) and a new attempt at packaging from the twisted, curved, back sprained bottle to some geometrically defined gravity friendly packaging is what is called ‘Product Development’. I think so . . . yes... you should think the same! It’s the same target audience attracted with new packaging and well those foreign ladies as well.

So cutting the long story short, Sunsilk ‘Tried and Decided’ to place their billboards facing Pantene’s billboards. They probably lost their focus on the unique selling proposition they had employed and the differentiation in terms of expert endorsements, for a moment, the brand, thought it’s a telecom company and decided to act accordingly . . . WOAH! WOW! Guys you are still selling shampoo and not some mobile phone connection.

What was the use? The target audience is unaffected by this move, people would not buy shampoo brands because of Pantene saying, “Hi! I have been tried by celebrities you better look like them and use me,” or Sunsilk saying, “Helleow! I have been tried and tested in labs on the world’s most beautiful rat with wonderfully long hair so there you go!”

People buy the perfect shampoo based on what suits them and what the influencers or family generally prefer while they are already skeptical about related brands given the remaining strands of hair on their scalps . . . our scalps. Therefore, such claim is rendered futile. So the world’s number 1 brand could be not so number 1 on my hair type and I might prefer a brand recommended by peers or family than by such advertising attraction . . . word of mouth shall prevail to protect thee from evil corporate strategy.

Ok so . . . well. . . when Pantene changed their strategy, Sunsilk did it again, a response proving itself utterly desperate for market share. Reminds me of situations where 0.25 or 0.5 can change a grade for students.

I fear the time when both brands would be doing awful comparative advertising with freaky pictures of hair gone hay wire or electrocuted after the use of the competitor’s brand. If they do it in both their ATL and BTL activities that would be fun to watch and Sunsilk for God’s sake leave our FaceBook walls spam free from your weird online endorsements in the future. . . ok, ok we shall use you when you desperately say, “USE ME!” and Pantene we can try to relate to your ladies, I’m sure most of us already have.

Hey! Hey . .. My baby is still fairer than yours so beware . . . :P

Disclaimer: I like both brands ... now what to do?


"Give me a Reason to live . . . "

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

Give me a reason to live,
give me a reason to smile . . . 
Give me a reason to forgive, 
the moments of past exile!

Why am I still a captive
of all the reprising vile?

If I am the author of my life,
why is my future a reflection of my past?
Give me a reason to strive . . . 
to fight it off till it would last!

With these moments so bleak,
give me strength from falling weak . . . 

Give me a reason to make peace
with that whim and caprice!
Give me a reason to live,
      give me a reason to smile . . .


Safar Badnamah Season 1, Episode 13: “Public Buses & their Cheap Songs and Shampoo Rivalry”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

At times I wonder what the exact target audience is for outdated cheap and weird songs, however, if you have had the chance of travelling in a public bus you would know. I am still not amazed to know that quite a lot of people around me haven’t been in a public bus or rickshaw for that matter . . . Rickshaw?!! Oh common give me a break! How can anyone not sit in that joy ride, the flying jet rickshaw, I just love the old version not the CNG one that crawls inspite of it’s wonderful spacious attribute.

Some make an excuse that they cannot wear the duppatta the way I wear to have to travel in a public bus or that their parents won’t allow them no matter how much they are genuinely interested . . . For the first one . .. What’s wrong in covering your head and tying your hair at least while being out? To me a traditional look is modernism and then the ‘running short of time, flying buses’ are fun to be in as long as you are sitting.

Yesterday while I was waiting for the bus I witnessed outright stupidity; it was some PPP rally with hundreds of bikes adorning the so called ‘double sawari’ and that too with police vehicles for their safety, what was more annoying was the fact that it was 9:40 and my stupid bus had still not come after waiting for about 15 minutes and I felt like blowing the cars that slow down to honk their horns at the very place. Anyway, this was not the first time when roads got blocked at Dou Talwar, there are times when these idiotic politicians pass by in their ‘rip off nation and buy BMW’s’ to make their presence prominent and waste our valuable time on the road. If they ever get to bring their bulky selves out of their cars they would know how it feels like wasting our time.

Anyway, I got into the bus to find some old Indian songs being played and I must say old is not always gold . . . I recalled the time when some awfully cheap songs were being played by the bus driver and I simply cannot forget them, just imagine the silly lyrics and the person who wrote these:

“Maira dil chahey tujhe kiss karoon lekin public kharee hai, mai kiya karoon!” It was a series of cheap songs; I don’t remember the rest though.

Oh God! What goes into the minds of these people?! And then there was another one: “Chitthee aa’ee hai aa’ee hai, chitthee aa’ee hai” . . . that made me wonder the last time I would have written a physical letter, thanks to emails that isn’t needed at all anymore and that shouldn’t be needed hopefully.

“Hum tou chaley pardais hum perdaisee hoga’ay . . .” . . . “Duflee waalay duflee baja!” The last one is stuck in my head since a week now . . . when I’m sitting alone, this one pops in my head and can’t stop bugging me, it gets so annoying, thankfully it didn’t reprise in my midterm.

I don’t remember the exact line but it was very catchy . . . the one put up by McDonalds about their Rs. 100 items mentioning their cost effective purchases in just this amount, however, the amount might be their USP, the quantity has been reduced substantially, it’s easy to lose customers this way.

Then there are these billboards by Sunsilk and Pantene with the former trying to win the self invited competition with their cheeky monkey line, “Tried & Decided”. What effect would these brand wars have on consumer buying decision and influencers? None maybe . . . people will buy the shampoo they have been buying or the one that suits their hair. It’s more of a “My baby is cuter than yours you weird mom! style or “Mairay bachha ziyada gora hai”.

 Photo Courtesy:

They have placed their billboards at every other place where Pantene’s is even when they changed their message they are there opposite or in front of their competitor. When notorious kids grow up to be marketers maybe this is what happens. .. :) 

Maybe it's never too bad to pull each other's legs  but that won't have a profound effect on the ultimate consumer . . . 


“Bring me back my n – 1”

Monday, October 11, 2010 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

 Bring me back my hourly,
Bring me back my n – 1.
Midterm’s on a killing spree,
Enjoyment . . . there is none.
It was wonderful to let go of one
And harvest the leftover two.
Why can’t I still have fun?
Who changed this? Who!? Who?! Who?!
Why kill with the mid when you can use a gun?
Divest one hourly is what we used to do,
Now management has fewer burdens . . . woohoo!
Don’t let go of the study charm,
Reverting back to n – 1 would do no harm!
Think for Zabdesk’s  algorithm sake,
midterm is not a piece of cake!
We want to revert back and die whenever
rather than study once and die forever.
I say n – 1 was a blessing in disguise,
Now it is dearly missed after it’s demise . . .