As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia presents “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-comers in the ad & marketing world – one person at a time.
This time we talk to Mariam Qasmi, Manager Group Strategy & Planning at Brainchild Communications Pakistan.
Over the course of our conversation, she talks about how she got her first break in the industry, what she loves about the job, what she’s not so crazy about, some of her favorite campaign work, and more.
Name: Mariam Qasmi
Company: Brainchild Communications Pakistan
Position: Manager Planning & Strategy
Current Location: Karachi
Education: University of London SOAS, MSc, 2018; LUMS, BSc, 2016
How did you get your first break in the industry?
I started as a Management Trainee in 2017 with Starcom on the Coca-Cola account. Starting on a heavily IMC driven account for an iconic brand really shaped my view of what media planning and brand persona entails. I got the opportunity to sit with seasoned professionals in campaign brainstorms and understand how ideas that eventually translate into award winning campaigns and executions are conceptualized.
Working with a client that sets a standard within the industry in areas of professional conduct and collaboration. Starcom-Coca-Cola to this day remains a benchmark for me as an agency-client relationship rooted in respect and I believe this is one of the reasons why the work produced by this relationship stands unparalleled today. Great ideas are borne in a creative and inclusive environment where no ideas are shot down and new voices are not only welcome, but also encouraged.
Over the years, as I get the opportunity to work with and on other accounts, I see the wisdom behind many of the practices that I did not fully appreciate or comprehend during those early days on Coca-Cola.
What is your personal mantra?
While my personal mantra has seen changes over the years, the one I am currently resonating with is the ‘go with the flow’ approach to life. A seize the day approach that entails less stress and worry over the future and the unknown, a deliberate endeavor to avail every opportunity that comes my way, and a conscious effort to plan pragmatically for the future.
From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?
I don’t know about creative inspiration, but one of the individuals I follow closely in the media and advertising space is Ryan Reynolds. Beyond his celebrity appeal, his spunk as a character on Deadpool, the flair he brought to advertising the movie, aviation gin and advertising in general with Hugh Jackman, all really resonated for me on account of its creativity and humor.
Eventually working for his advertising company is the ultimate career goal for me nowadays.
What do you love about the job?
I love having to work with multiple brands, researching their past work and persona to craft direction for their future in terms of communication content and strategy. I enjoy thinking of new and creative ways to get brand message across that resonates with the intended audience and breaks clutter in a highly competitive space.
“A shift in attitude that sees agency partners as business partners equally vested in their client’s business results has the power to truly impact the outcome we see on our screens.”
What about your job are you not so crazy about?
I think the industry and agency culture in Pakistan has really evolved in recent years but there is still much that needs improvement. A shift in attitude that sees agency partners as business partners equally vested in their client’s business results has the power to truly impact the outcome we see on our screens.
While this shift is definitely in progress, there are still issues pertaining to tight deadlines, people management and expectation management that can prove really challenging in some cases. Here is to the hope that the next few years see sustained growth, and development in our ways of working and professionalism.
What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
Some of the work I am proud of includes contributing to the easypaisa campaign in 2020 titled ‘eidipaisa’. An award-winning campaign crafted against a simple idea that changed the send gift feature to make it ‘eidipaisa’ in keeping with the tradition to gift money ‘Eidi’ to loved ones during the religious holiday.
With lockdowns happening the world over, Eid in 2020 was perhaps the first Eid many in Pakistan were not spending with their loved ones. The eidipaisa feature invoked the spirit of the tradition and allowed users to keep the Eid spirit alive as they connected digitally with their loved ones.
The campaign remains close to my heart today as it is perhaps one of the toughest deadlines, we had to work against to craft comprehensive plans for PR and digital. Plans we had to later modify and de-escalate on account of a national tragedy just days before Eid. It was a campaign everyone on the team hustled to pull together and bring to life, a conscious team effort that went on to win Best Digital Campaign in the country in the Dragons of Asia awards for 2020.
Other than this, in my current capacity as Planning and Strategy specialist, I have had the pleasure of working on numerous media pitches for prospective clients in the industry. While I cannot divulge much on these on account of confidentiality, from them, HBL is one I am particularly proud of as it offered a unique challenge and an opportunity to think big and out of the box. I worked on the pitch during a very difficult junction of my life, and to dive into the challenge and ultimately win the pitch was a win I will always hold close to my heart.
If you had to choose another career what would it be?
My first choice of an alternate career would be to be a professional volleyball player and I know the question asks for first only, but second to volleyball, I would choose architecture as a profession.
I have been playing volleyball for over ten years now and my obsession with the game has only grown over this period and architecture is something that has always intrigued me, I would like to imagine what it must feel like to design spectacular buildings and stadiums.
I looked at the beautiful stadiums that Qatar has built for the world cup and wonder at the sense of accomplishment the architect must get from seeing their design come to life.