If you have read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, you must be familiar with terms like though-police, thought-crime, and double-speak. If you haven’t read the novel, no worries, we are actually living the similar dystopian conditions imaginatively constructed by Orwell in his most depressing and distressing work. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has managed to found the word ‘Super’ misleading. It shows how difficult it is to think, speak and express at any level in our society. The action of PTA on Jazz Super 4G is highly lamentable.
I was taken aback when I read the Profit magazine’s report on PTA’s directive on Jazz Super 4G. Jazz has been instructed to remove the word ‘Super’ from all its communications including commercials and outdoor fabrication. PTA has also made a serious objection to the tagline ‘Super Nahi Tou 4G Nahi’ labeling it as misleading.
If there is no animosity between Jazz and PTA, advertising in Pakistan is going to come under the weather. Advertising is a science of superlatives. There can be countless ways to communicate a message to a consumer, some can be direct others more subtle yet the objective always remains the same and that is to create a larger-than-life image of the product in the minds of the consumer. If using a simple adjective like ‘Super’ is misleading then all brand communication should be banned in Pakistan.
PTA might ban Red Bull communication on the pretext that, in reality, it does not give you wings. It could also make a ‘big’ objection to Coke’s ‘Open Happiness’ idea saying that when you open a bottle of coke you only get carbonated water and no happiness.
PTA should not have jurisdiction on matters concerning brand communication, even PEMRA is an inappropriate authority for such matters. There should be an organization consisting of veterans of both advertising and marketing fields.
However, Mobilink Jazz has moved the court regarding the matter. After the proceeding, Lahore High Court (LHC) will decide whether to set aside PTA directives or not. It is expected that the court will stop PTA from taking any further action as long as the court reaches a final verdict.
The right to advertise comes under the principle of freedom of expression and speech. Falsehood, lies, and deceit thrive not in societies where freedom of speech is allowed to its inhabitants but where it is taken away from them.
The Jazz Super 4G incident is a wake-up call for the advertising and marketing industry to evaluate how things stand. The industrial and commercial sector in Pakistan is already struggling due to a number of factors. It cannot afford to take another blow from PTA in the name of misleading advertising.