Shan 2017: What’s wrong with the ad?

Shan Foods has come up with a new TVC this year. After the “Bhai ye kaisi eid hai?” revolving around biryani, Shan once again picks biryani as the nucleus to revolve around. Before much ado, here is the advertisement most people are raving about and some are criticizing.

First, the positives. Biryani brings people together. Shan capitalizes on the fact and spins a tale surrounding this delicacy. Foreigners should be made to feel welcome, and that is what the ad about. Neighbors are important, and should be made to feel important. And what better way to break the ice than with a scrumptious bowl of biryani. Going into technicalities, it also looks like a case of extending the consumer base to Chinese, which is a good move considering the good trade relations going on between the two countries.

And now , ladies and gentlemen *drum roll* , the problems I see.

  1. Pakistani hospitality is famous. Someone moves into the neighborhood and at least someone comes up to meet them and invite them over for tea. The first problem, no one tried to meet the new Chinese couple on the block and they had to discover ways to introduce themselves?
  2. Chinese food isn’t researched well. It isn’t as bland or as uniform as it is projected. Why would Shan belittle Chinese food and then try to bring them into its own consumer base? Why would they show a Chinese woman looking disdainfully at her own bowl of noodles?
  3. Chinese people are very proud of their culture and I can’t imagine a Chinese person dissing their own food. They are not like us. We get easily impressed by other nations.
  4. The Chinese lady doesn’t speak English or Urdu, has to mime her way in to the neighbors to explain that biryani is for eating , but she is fully capable of translating the recipe from the Shan Masala box (printed in English and Urdu)  into Chinese and then cooking the best biryani ever.
  5. For a nation with changing fashion trends, and the local women favoring a semi western dress over a typical eastern one, it is preposterous to assume that a Chinese lady will don a dupatta over her head to feel accepted by the neighbors? Why does she have to look like a yesteryear PIA air hostess?
  6. If I am in a foreign country, and I want to break the ice with my neighbors, I would take them something from my cuisine. I won’t make pizza for an Italian in the first meeting with an Italian. I won’t make a falafel for an Arab, or even chinese for a Chinese. I might, once I get to know them and want to tell them how I have gelled in their country or if they are in my country and I want to make them feel at home in a foreign environment. But if I am the foreigner, I would take them my food, to introduce them to my culture and give them a chance to introduce theirs.
  7. Who in the whole wide world forces guests to drink two whole glasses of sharbat?

How would I do it? I would do it the other way around. I would make a Pakistani neighbor taking biryani to the new foreign neighbor as a token of hospitality. I wont force the Chinese neighbor into my dress code. I would share my biryani and as a token of friendship, I will let the Chinese neighbor in on my secret recipe of the biryani. Finally, I won’t show a foreigner who doesn’t know at least English. Why? So that she can actually read the Shan Masala box, and be able to have a basic conversation with her neighbor, instead of miming.

Shan did something good last time with Eid away from family. They have a good concept going on this time, they haven’t executed it good enough. It is sappy and the only good point is a beautiful plate of biryani.


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