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16 Aug

Sana Safinaz ‘Mahay’ DVC is much more than just an ad


Summer is here and with COVID-19 looming large globally; we can definitely feel the dual sauna-effect of both the virus and the sun in Pakistan. With the tropical heat shining at its zenith, the Sana Safinaz 2020 ad campaign titled ‘Mahay’ presents us with a poetic ode to our dear old Kolachi. Fabrics with kaleidoscopic hues of bright summery shades sprinkled with digital floral prints and laced with soothing white crochet motifs, this digital video commercial (DVC) simply adds to the nostalgia of pre-COVID summers native to this mega metropolitan city.

Set tastefully to the ever-green tune of Nazia Hassan’s ‘Kariye Pyar Diyan Galan‘, the song is reminiscent of a time all Karachi denizens have experienced and continue to crave during days of social distancing. It brings together a group of chirpy young women, off to spend what feels like a classic Sunday picnic in lieu of a weekend siesta, at one of Karachi’s iconic historical monuments and coveted desi hot-spots: the Empress Market located right at the heart of Saddar Bazaar.

The girl gang then steps into a bus to explore Empress Market. What could be more fun and fulfilling than spending a weekend shopping with your girlfriends, enjoying a chat by Empress market’s peeli seeriyan (monument’s yellow concrete steps), sipping fresh coconut water to beat the heat, and toasting to a simmering cup of doodh patti chai? This is just the savage sunny energy we are all desperate to embrace after we resume living life like the good old days!

If examined at a more nuanced level, the campaign is a bit more than just a brand advertisement or a regular Pakistani DVC. The carefully canvassed images actually celebrate the rarely seen on-screen women’s camaraderie in today’s day and age: women bonding as close friends, confidants, and as individuals who are comfortable in their skin. Their attire becomes more than what they’re just wearing. The level of comfort of what these women wear (internally and externally) extends through them with a layered coziness evident throughout the DVC.

What’s more interesting is that they are not shy to show affection for each other, which is basically a lost art in today’s day-to-day fast paced virtual and tech-savvy existence. They can be seen fearlessly holding hands, hugging, teasing, and feeding each other gol gappas (whilst they are literally engaging in gup-shup) and resting in each other’s lap.

This is a dual endorsement: one is of course an endorsement for the brand’s clothing line, but the second and rather significantly potent one is the endorsement of the fearless feeling that stems from fashionable women who can dress up, laugh unabashedly and have fun in the sun. And last but not the least, the icing on the cake: there is no dialogue or verbal spoon feeding through mammoth narrations and slow voice overs which dumb down everything for its viewers. Hence, each of us gets to take away what we want to take away from the ad. The music selection is also ideal for the theme as is the group coming together to sing karaoke to the tune.

Look at what creativity can bring forth in a mere 30 seconds, if an idea is simply well thought through; kudos to the Sana Safinaz creative team and everyone involved for impeccable execution and delectable visuals.

Note to all advertisers: can we please see more visual storytelling, preferably propelled by happy, confident women in your endorsements? This would just require creative heads to not even think out of the box, but to simply look around inside the realm of advertising for rustic storytelling.

The summer rays seem to blend seamlessly with Mahay’s monochrome mustards, creams, indigo, beige, greens and pinks which are digitally printed shirts sparkling with contrast color-blocking that also bring forth a revival of ancient Kashmiri patterns and embroidery on organza.

The fabric visible in the DVC not only highlights that the Mahay Collection is apt to be worn outside, but can be comfortably worn indoors as well. The cotton pants are worn in a traditional Lehriye pattern with tie-dye shades of maroons, creams, or striped with motifs inspired from ancient Morocco and hand-made crotchet flowers.

The suits showcased as being worn inside the house are digital prints paired with creams, purples, violets, and hues of blue whilst similar shades can be seen being etched on the large garden canvas by a painter, and interestingly enough the painting is that of a woman dressed in a formal pink business suit.  

A special shout out to the stylist who chose a magenta coloured wide-brimmed jute-knit Derby sun hat to go with an opulently violet suit: who says the East can’t meet the West half way when it comes to 21st century Pakistani fashion?

Whilst the DVC is a visual treat that celebrates the quintessentially missed colors, aromas, sights and sounds of Kolachi, we also want to take a moment to remember Zara Abid who features in this ad-campaign and recently lost her life in the PIA air crash just before Eid ul Fitr this year. An asset to Pakistan’s fashion industry, her contribution will always be celebrated and remembered with fondness. 

You can watch the making of the ad campaign with exclusive behind-the-scene sneak peeks here:


Afreen Seher

Afreen is a theatre and cinema enthusiast with special interest in literature and Urdu dramas. Deeply inspired by her mother, she is grateful to her family support system and intends to continue telling stories from South Asia through a hybrid medium of theater, film and digital media.