What I’m about to share is possibly one of the most special pieces of advertising that I have ever experienced. And to my joyous surprise it has come from Pakistan! Google Pakistan [Update 14/11 below], who is your ad agency? The brief must have been rather simple, but the execution literally had me in tears.
The copy is in Urdu/Punjabi, and the subtleties of language are near-impossible to get across if you don’t understand it, which I think is a real shame. The world needs to know. This is very very important work. And much beyond a sheer brand equity campaign.
The first video is a story is one of a simple reunion between two close friends torn apart at the time of the partition of Pakistan from India – one of the bloodiest mass migrations in history. It’s incredibly close to my heart as some of my dearest, most amazing childhood friends originate from across the border. It comes at a time when Pakistan is warming up to the ideas of ties with India, something that I found to be pleasantly surprising in my most recent visit there. I do hope it will be reciprocal.
For the curious that must get even the watered down version, I’ve made an attempt at a rookie, translated script. The rest of the series has a more product-centric message, which can be found here.
Open to the sound of the call for prayer from the Grand Mosque (Jama Masjid) in Delhi.
Old man shows a picture of two boys to his daughter
‘This is me. And this is Yousaf. A great friend of mine he was’.
‘In Lahore, in front of our house, there was this big park..’
‘..The gate of the park was from the times of Adam (ancient)’
‘Every evening, we would be flying kites there’
‘And after that, we would go to Yousaf’s shop and steel jhajariya’
Man introduces girl as his granddaughter and she exchanges greetings with a friend.
<Series of Google searches>
She picks up the phone and dials a number. Cut to a scene in the Old City in Lahore. A young man picks up the phone.
Passes his phone to an old man.
‘Grandfather, there is a call for you from Delhi’
‘Hello’ ‘Yousaf Uncle’ ‘Who is this?’ ‘It’s me. Suman from Delhi. Your childhood friend Baldeep’s granddaughter’
‘Remember how you two used to steal and eat jhajariya?’
<Soundtrack about the carefree joys of childhood, and kites flying free like the birds>
<More google searches>
Cut to the first pair sitting in a park.
‘At the time of partition, we came to India immediately’
‘I really miss Yousaf’
Cut to Pakistan.
<Soundtrack continues – paper boats, ah the times those were>
Cut to India
<Girl in cabs asks driver to hurry up>
A bell rings, a door opens.
‘Who (are you)?’
‘Happy birthday, friend’
[update 14/11 – it’s since appears this is a Google India copy. Two lessons: 1. regional copies can be done very effectively. 2. A common issue and a yearning for peace resonates on both sides of this man-made border]