How Sexist are Advertisements in Pakistan?

By Fatima Yahya | 21 Feb, 2016

Most of the ads we see on TV or social media today are either sexist, hateful or racist. God forbid if you dare to point out the damage these ads are causing. And somehow, if you’re lucky enough to not get bulldozed for highlighting it, you will be told to take a medicine called a ‘chill pill’.

If you ask me, this ‘chill pill’ can be very strategically placed to relieve constipated thoughts that reinforce these shitty beliefs in our society. Do we stop and think before we reinforce this ideology or enjoy a joke made at someone else’s expense? It’s just a joke right? All in good taste. We all need to learn to take a joke. Enjoy a little. But where do we draw the line?

Jubilee Insurance

Let’s start with this gem of a TV Commercial by Jubilee Insurance that reinforces the idea that parents are obligated to give dowry at their daughter’s wedding and if they don’t, it is a matter of grave shame. It’s high time we let go of this cursed tradition, stop treating marriage like a business transaction and our daughters like a burden on our families.



Restaurants aren’t that far behind:


This isn’t the first time that Hardee’s been in the news for their blatantly sexist advertisements. After all, this is what they are notorious for. I guess, this is what happens when you run out of ideas to keep yourself in the news. So, they kept the torch burning by launching yet another campaign that caused massive uproar.

Source: Tumblr

The start of a new year did not stop them, in any way at all, from continuing with their raunchy ads. Because let’s admit it, we all love getting sexualized. What’s the harm in it if it gives some twisted people a good laugh and help sell some burgers on the side? Its a win-win! This is exactly what we need; continuous reinforcement that this is how women are to be seen and this is all they are good for.

In case you can’t tell, this is sarcasm. And if Hardee’s continues to do this, customers aren’t the only thing they’ll be losing.


Source: Hardee’s Pakistan

10 inches, really? We’ll give you 2 points for wishful thinking.


Source: Hardee’s Pakistan
Source: Hardee’s Pakistan



Even though advertisements by Nando’s aren’t as offensive as Hardee’s, they keep finding ways to stay in the race for the most distasteful and sexist ads to have existed in Pakistan. The posts below are proof of that. If only their chicken was good enough to not make them want to resort to this.

Source: Twitter
Source: Nando’s Pakistan

O’ My Buns!

Anddd we have another one!

Source: Twitter


Table No. 5

Most of us are familiar with the marketing strategy adopted by Table No. 5. For those of you who don’t know, check out the story behind Table No. 5. This sandwich joint somehow managed to offend half of Pakistan’s population in just a matter of days. Now that is a feat in itself. Ain’t it?

To ensure virality, you can either expand your budget for a creative advertising campaign or you can follow the saying, ‘any publicity is good publicity’ and go cheap by doing something that would warrant debates, arguments, scorn and be the talk of the town. They picked the latter and someone gave these people the bright idea that disrespecting women would help them sell sandwiches.

There are things that we joke about, they are things that we can agree to disagree on and then there are things that can never be joked about. Sexism, harassment and abuse top that list.

Source: Table No. 5
Source: Table No. 5
Source: Table No. 5


We don’t know if there’s any redemption for a restaurant that had its menu items listed as names of famous celebrities who have been convicted of either abuse or sexual harassment. But this is their version of an apology, which also happens to be borderline offensive. Why does Table No. 5 feel the irrepressible need to use words like ‘feminist friendly’ and ‘no misogyny’. Looks like they are still have a long, long way to go.

Source: Tumblr


Beauty & Whitening Creams

Source: Tumblr

For hundreds of years, our society has been plagued with the ingrained belief that only ‘fair’ is ‘lovely’. Advertisements by brands that sell theses products, to give you the insanely desired ‘whiter’ complexion, have solidified that belief time and time again. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the idea that plus-sized women are not beautiful and that the more skin you expose, the higher your product sales would be, has twisted standards of feminine beauty for far too long.

Source: Veet


Because, apparently, the only way to make heads turn is have a whiter complexion.

And why exactly do women need to make heads turn? Why are they required to have that validation? How does your skin color determine the kind of person you are? These questions are what we forget to ask ourselves every day or just accept them as something that has always been and will always be. Even men have joined the race to be the fairest of them all by conforming to the standards set by our society and wanting to be ‘snow white’.  It’s time we let go of this mentality and learn to be content, comfortable and confident in our own skin.

Source: Twitter




Mobilink also joined the club with a newspaper ad that sparked controversy all over social media. This ad featured Nargis Fakhri plastered on the front page of Urdu newspapers and it seemed to have done the job. Because, guess what? It got people talking about the brand. So, it’s okay to objectify women as long as you make news, literally.

Source: Daily Pakistan


The Cinderella Story

May it be advertisements of cooking oil, tea or laundry detergents, they all have one thing in common. All of these ads portray women in either a role that is only limited to handling household chores or striving to please the men in their family; their approval and validation hold the poor damsel’s life in balance. These advertisements endorse marginalization of women in our society and further push women into the boxes of behavior and treatment that were designed for them ages ago.

Source: Tumblr

Watching these ads, we come to know that a Pakistani woman’s biggest problems actually revolve around them not being able to remove that salan ka stain from their husband’s shirt, or have the toilet sparkling like diamonds, or having her son sent back home from school because his uniform wasn’t blindingly white, or having the perfect balance of spices on the dinner menu, the list is endless. These ads educate us on how the choice of milk is what empowers women and this is how they get to exert their independence. How nice.

Source: Tumblr

Independence and freedom of choice for a woman is her being able to choose whatever she wants to do with her life, may it be her career or the choice of a life partner.

Empowerment is when she gets to pursue further education in the field that interests her and not what her in-laws are going to use to one-up themselves in the family. The goals and aspirations of women aren’t about getting the keys to the house or being appointed in charge of the kitchen but to live a life where they get the respect and appreciation they deserve.

Source: Tumblr


What we fail to realize is that these type of advertisements have serious implications on our already misogynistic society

They not only promote unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies and the roles they are expected to play, but also lead to serious problems such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, discrimination and sexism being reinforced as an acceptable form of behavior.

And all of this boils down to the deep seated patriarchy in our society. Here’s hoping that the advertisements in this country stop using sexism as crutches to sell their products.

Found the advertising in Pakistan really demeaning towards women? Here’s something else to cool you off a bit


21 Daily Struggles of Working in an Advertising Agency in Pakistan


How These Strong Pakistani Women Responded to Men Who Stopped Them From Doing What They Wanted53d0a4cbcacd7

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