Interview: Sarmad Ali, MD of Jang Media Group on AdAsia Lahore – ‘We Want People to See the Real Pakistan’

Sarmad Ali, Managing Director at the Jang Media Group.

In eight months, Pakistan will host the 31st edition of AdAsia in Lahore, co-organized by the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA) and Pakistan Advertising Association (PAA). Sarmad Ali, Managing Director of Jang Media Group, spoke to Branding In Asia about how he and his colleagues won the bid and what’s in store come December.

“So you make a presentation to AAFAA and express your intent of hosting it,” said Ali, who is also President of Pakistan Chapter of International Advertising Association, Chairman of the organizing committee for AdAsia 2019, and Secretary-General of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS). “They look at your offer, your proposal, compare it [with other bids], the one they feel most comfortable gets it.”

Despite security concerns, Ali said that placing the event in Lahore played its part in calming any worries, paving the bid forward.


We want to make it a big event, it’s not about AdAsia, it’s also about Pakistan – we want people to see the real Pakistan – we believe there is a Pakistan beyond what the Western media presents us.

Shahzad Nawaz was tapped to create the AdAsia 2019 logo and manage the event, while Ali and his team are currently in the process of speaking with and securing international speakers for the event, which currently have Manchester United’s Peter Draper, Zenith’s Tom Goodwin, and CNN’s Richard Quest confirmed to attend.

“So far we have confirmation from Randi Zuckerberg as one of the keynote speakers,” said Ali. “We invited [Sir] Martin Sorrell – he said yes – we’re waiting for his formal confirmation.”


According to Ali, speakers will be sharing perspectives with over one thousand anticipated participants from advertising and creative communications, most of whom comprising of professionals from 17 member nations of Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA).


“We want to make it a big event, it’s not about AdAsia, it’s also about Pakistan – we want people to see the real Pakistan – we believe there is a Pakistan beyond what the Western media presents us,” said Ali.

“There’s a reality and there’s perception. Hardly half the country borders Pakistan. We want [the world to see] what Pakistan is all about. Since the Lahore is the hub, it made sense.”

Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, a well-known writer from Pakistan, was commissioned to write a book on AdAsia which will be distributed to delegates. On the first day of AdAsia 2019, he will also speak about Lahore following the Prime Minister’s address, welcoming the delegates and taking them through the history of the host city.

“The second night is at the Governers house where [delegates will be shown] the grandeur of the house and see what its all about,” said Ali, adding that at the third-night delegates will be taken to the Fatima Jinnah College for Women which is also the Haveli of Asif Jah, transforming it at night for the delegates entertainment. “The fourth night will be at Bagh-e-Jinnah [Lawrence Gardens].”

Ali said that Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, will inaugurate the event. In a press statement, Fawad Chaudhry, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting for Pakistan, said that the event is timely since the media ecosystem is grappling with the shift from print to digital media, paving the way for survival through adaption.

“We would like to benefit from the conferences to develop and make Pakistan advertisement industry more competitive and creative in line with international standards,” said Chaudhry.

You can get more info about AdAsia Lahore 2019 here.

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