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Kalashnikov Surf, Pistol Soap, Talwaar Soap! What’s next?

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By Amar Guriro

KARACHI: With the growing consumerism, brand names of different commodities are not only attractive for the highly educated and rich – who select their shirts, shoes, wrist watches or fast food and beverages of certain brands – but also matters to the poor such as the war victims from the northern areas of Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan living in the temporary camps set in different areas of the city.

In this regard, an interesting trend was observed among the local manufacturers of soaps and detergents of the northern areas of the country, especially Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, who name their products with strange brand names, such as Kalashnikov Soap, Pistol Soap, Barood (explosive material) Soap, Kalashnikov Washing Powder, Aakhri Goli (the last bullet) Soap and Talwaar (sword) Soap.

With these brand names, their products are famous and attract the residents of tribal areas upcountry and some parts of Afghanistan where keeping weapons is a matter of esteem.

In order to find out the reason behind such brand names for everyday use products, this scribe talked to elderly Shahzaman who said people living in areas that have been war-afflicted for decades, it is a matter of honour to be able to defend themselves with weapons; therefore, the possession of weapons automatically grants one respect and is a matter to be proud of.

“Kalashnikov is an automatic rifle that has been the most popular in Pakistan since the 1980s and when you posses this rifle, you can literally wipe out your enemies, so the detergent manufacturers named their washing powder as Kalashnikov Surf. People can understand that it would washout all the stains from the cloth just like the rifle wipes out the enemies,” he explained.

However, products with weird brand names have also trickled into the local markets of Karachi, specifically in the areas where immigrants from the tribal areas or Afghan refugees are living.

A small settlement located near Al-Asif Square disclosed that these products are not made in Karachi, but the wholesalers brought these goods from the northern areas to sell in the local markets.

Sociologists and psychologists call such brand names the most effective marketing tools for certain products. “Humans are emotionally and deeply attached with their cultural values and taking advantage of that, most manufacturers name their products after these cultural values just to attract more customers,” said Dr Qasim Birhoi, renowned psychiatrist. He said most manufacturers named the brands according to the local cultural value, so people may get easily attracted to such products.

A quick market survey reveals some other bizarrely named products, including Suhaag Rat Paan (wedding night betel leaves), Garmi Ka Dushman Sharbat (anti-heat beverage), Gai Marka (cow mark) Soap and Murgh Marka (chicken mark) Tobacco. Interestingly, people enjoy such names.

Social science theories reveal the long history of brand names for different products and that branding started from Africa where the nomads and the country folk used to print tag marks with some hot metal on the bodies of their cows, camels and other animals, so that their animals may not get mixed with someone else’s cattle. The same practice continued when several people of the wealthy nations were involved in slave trade. However, when the cruel practices of slavery ended, and the modern era started, big companies started getting involved in the brand culture and introduced products with brand names. And just in the same way, Pakistani companies have so far introduced many products with local names and cultural identity, including these strangely named products.

Courtesy: Daily Times\05\25\story_25-5-2010_pg12_5

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