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 (www.telecomrecorder.com) 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?