Friday, October 22, 2010

Red Faces

I have to admit that I have either been too slack or too busy in the last few days to do posts on a number of issues that deserve posts. Unfortunately, too many things happen all at the same time (it's Pakistan, what're you gonna do?) so posts get, in the words of bureaucracy, 'pended'. Hopefully I'll get round to at least a couple of them. One of the ones I've been 'working on' for a couple of weeks now has to do with the advertising world, which deserves a lot more attention I feel than we end up giving it, thanks to a never-ending cycle of 'breaking news.'

But related to advertising, today I just want to focus on a curious little legal notice that appeared on page 5 in Dawn which made me sit up and take, as it were, notice. Here is the notice:

In case, you can't read the print easily, this is what it says:

"The public-at-large [don't you just love the concept of the 'public-at-large'?] is hereby informed that M/s Telecom Recorder in a post appearing on its website ( has misrepresented that my client M/s Red Communication Arts (Private) Limited has been conveyed by Mobilink that my client shall be the official advertising agency representing Mobilink. The public by way of this notice is informed that the said post is a misrepresentation and a concoction of facts and that no such consent has been conveyed to my client by Mobilink. My client reserves its right and is in the process of initiating appropriate proceedings against the website for spreading such false and baseless information."

Now, there were a couple of reasons why I was immediately interested. One of them had to do with the idea that a website, specifically a blog, had incurred legal action, which obviously is of interest to people like us at Cafe Pyala. Let's ignore for a moment the fact - as Kamran Khan informed viewers just this evening on Geo on a completely unrelated note - that the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance (PECO) under which any ostensible prosecution could be carried out has apparently lapsed last November (in effect, therefore there is no existing law under which anything to do with cyber crime, including credit card identity theft, can be prosecuted). What interests me is whether this notice signals the advent of blogs being taken seriously enough in Pakistan to warrant general attention and thus legal action.

The second, and more profound, reason for my attention was because I was genuinely confused. I know a lot of advertising people and advertising agencies and all of them, without exception, are willing to metaphorically give their left arm and leg to land new clients, leave alone 'big' clients like Mobilink (keep in mind that telcom operators make up more than 70% of all advertising revenue on television). Why was an advertising agency, Red Communication Arts in this case, getting so upset about something that one would assume they would be jumping for joy about? Even if the claim in the post was untrue, shouldn't they be flattered instead of incensed? It just didn't make any sense.

Here's why sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. See, I was so intrigued by this bizarre legal notice that I went looking for that blog post. Maybe the Telecom Recorder is a must-read within the telecom industry, but I certainly did not know it even existed. Well, now I do and I am sure those who run the blog have been overjoyed at the spike in their readership.

Screen grabs from the Telecom Recorder post

Here is the offending post. Having read it, I think I can now make sense of this notice. From what I've been able to gather, a bunch of ad agencies, including Red, were pitching for a Mobilink-related account. And while the process has apparently not officially ended, Telecom Recorder breaks the allegedly insider news that (according to it) Mobilink's Head of Marketing has already conveyed to Red that it has won the account. Obviously, this has probably led to a lot of pissed off advertising agencies (those that allegedly lost the pitch) but, more importantly, it would lead to red faces (pun intended) at Mobilink. The information of Red celebrating a win, if true, could only have come from within Red. Telecom Recorder also carries a slide from the (I would assume) confidential briefing that Mobilink provided to all those pitching.

The legal notice, then, makes sense as Red attempting to deflect claims of impropriety and alleged collusion not so much against itself as against the Head of Marketing at Mobilink, who it would be safe to assume, is in some hot waters at his organization. Had there not been any grain of truth in the post, would Red have gone out of its way to refute it?

It may well seem like a storm in a teacup to most people but if I know anything of corporate culture, this has probably become a matter of life and death in that world. And if I know anything else about suits, it will probably lead to some heads rolling.

See all you can learn from little public notices tucked away in a newspaper?


Anonymous said...

Hey Cafe Pyala, it looks like the Washington Post monitors your blog

The News "Caliph Ad" Story.

Rafay Alam said...

I think the notice is a kind of sign-o-the-times.

In the old world of print media, a legal notice addressed to the publisher and editor would have done the job. But where does one post a notice to a blogger?

I think the legal notice on behalf of Red was the only option left to an ad company to protect its reputation.

It's intriguing to think about how our law and courts would deal with restricting speech on the internet. I know the Lahore High Court has shown its hand when it came to Facebook, but I'm talking regulation of speech as between private individuals.

Tayyab Mahmood said...

Pyala why can't you post something on Karachi Killings ???

As usual mainstream Karachi Journalist are afraid of saying what is the real problem or person for these Killings......

Anon 12:10 said...

What is there to be said yaar.

The only original thing I can think of, for those who lived through the nineties (which would be all of us), is that the immediacy of 24 hour news means that the sock of bodies piling up fast makes people complain to the head politicians. Then the violence differs from the nineties in that the leaders tell their cadres on the ground to hold their horses. So all the hotheads on all sides don`t get killed in one big 72 hour, 150 body pileup like they did in the nineties. Instead 25 to 35 people get killed, many of the ghundas on all sides are left breathing, and two months later another 24 hour, 30 body pileup ensues.

Oh snap, I got an unique observation in. Tayyab your squinty face, pathetic grammar and barely contained Nawa-e-Waqt rage has sparked contempt and originality. I thank you from the depths of my gall bladdder.

Anonymous said...

Aww, you are never slack XYZ;we know who kept u busy, though ...

Anonymous said...

Right on. And since the mainstream media are always bashing the PPP and have even lesser love for the ANP, I know who you're talking about.

In fact, one of their trolls has even responded.

Down with the nawa-e-waqt. And down with those-who-must-not-be-named and their trolls.

Anon 12:10 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alpha Za said...

Wow, this is like a lesson in Petty political bull shit.

Surprised that anyone actually noticed.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:10

Sorry, dude. My bad. Thought you were one of them.

@ Omega Z: Oh, I do apologize for my bullshit. Please let us proceed back to Red.

XYZ said...

@Tayyab Mahmood: Because I have nothing new to add. There's a good discussion going on about it over at FiveRupees (along with some comments by me) you can check out if you're so interested.

Here's the link:

On a more general note to you and everyone else: why is it that invariably issues unconnected with the post are inducted into the comments section? Invariably, someone or the other wants to know why the post about ABC is not about MNO and I'm really getting tired of it... bhaiyon aur behnon, it's not, deal with it, or start your own blog. You all want to talk Karachi killings, why not do it where it's actually being talked about?


Hasan said...

I think you need to focus on the target killing in Karachi...

Why journalist are afraid to say anything about these Killings ?????

Web Designing Karachi

Tayyab Mahmood said...

@Anon 12:10...

I might have squinty face & pathetic grammar but am not fucking douchebag like you who doesn't knows the importance of Human life.

I think you are using scrotum not brain for argument as praises comes from you bladder :)