Brands Pump Up the Volume in Pakistan

Issue 07-16-17   |   Reviewer:   Bob Cohen, MBA


About two-thirds of Pakistan’s population is under thirty; the economy is projected to grow at more than 5 percent annually over the next five years; and, household consumption’s contribution to gross domestic product hit 80 percent in 2015, higher than the global average of 58 percent. The country of more than 200 million is also home to a sufficiently large cohort of young, liberal, and affluent consumers looking for the same way of life they enjoyed while studying in the West. A perfect opportunity for companies like China Mobile’s Zong, Norway’s Telenor Djuice, Coca-Cola and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to recreate the good times they experienced overseas.

MullenLowe Rauf Group, a Karachi marketing and communications firm, estimates that foreign and domestic companies have ramped up spending on advertising more than 60 percent since 2012. Still, it’s not easy to stage a rave in Pakistan. Terrorist attacks present a very real danger. And, the country’s religious authorities and conservative politicians generally oppose the playing of Western music and the mixing of genders. Mohammad Shah, half of the DJ duo Fake Shamans, who discovered dance music while attending university in London, says that, “People do want places they can have fun. We’re fighting through our music.”

Coca-Cola spends millions of dollars a year on concerts and other music-related activities in major cities in Pakistan, according to Fahad Qadir, a Lahore-based spokesman for the company. “There are two passion points for Pakistanis,” says Qadir. “One is cricket, the other is music.”

That said, many Pakistani DJs and promoters at the raves have learned that theirs can be a hazardous profession. For example, one was beaten up for not playing a track requested by a politician.

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