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Rizwan Ahmed – raising the bar

  • Posted On: 10th June 2013
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Rizwan Ahmad Malik has carved a niche for himself in Pakistan’s fiercely competitive advertising and media industry. In 2004, Rizwan set up his own company RGBlue Communications dedicated to advertising and media. The formation of RGBlue represents a combination of creativity across a range of advertising and media services. An inspiration to young entrepreneurs, Rizwan talks to Blue Chip about his views on Pakistan’s vibrant advertising and media industry.

What is the difference between your firm RGBlue and other advertising agencies?
Rizwan Ahmad: “The difference is that advertising agencies only do advertising but we also do web designing and web marketing and we are also doing publications. We have our own publication called Spaces. We also do a couple of publications for various international and national clients, so that makes us different. I don’t go for conventional advertising business: not just the usual advertising stuff but I also do publications and multimedia. I am a qualified film maker, so my own area of expertise is in film making and documentary making.”
Where did you study film?
RA: “I went to the New York Film Academy, but even before I went to school, like any other Pakistani director, I learnt it on my own. So, I was doing a lot of work before I even went to school. So that’s what my forte is.”
Where did you start your career?
RA:  “I started off working at Prestige as a Copywriter and then I was promoted to Audio Visual Manager. I was a designer by training but they made me write so I became a good copy and concept writer — that became my forte. I was copywriting, working on concepts and also had an interest in audio visuals, so I started putting them together. I did a lot of ads which I wrote and shot as well apart from a lot of ads which I just wrote. I worked with Unilever, Pepsi, and Energile. It was fun.”
What compelled you to set up your own company?
RA: “I decided that before I turned 30, I wanted to achieve a few things and setting up my own company was one of them. My family background is also related to business so I suppose business was in the blood. There is an unspoken pressure that you have from your family and I took it as a challenge.”
What are your views on the media and the advertising agency and how it’s evolved?
RA: “I have noticed that we actually have a bigger role to play but we are too busy selling stuff and that is why we miss out on the bigger picture. In my opinion, the electronic media has a bigger responsibility — it is flawed as every news channel is trying to ‘sell’ the news and not ‘tell’ the news. In one word: ‘sensationalising’. We have a responsibility and that is the key element. There are no ethics in the media. There are no proper schools for media and advertising that teach you about ethics.”
When did you start RGBlue?
RA: “Informally I started it five years ago, but then I was working for Interflow and so, I was running the company parallel to that. When I would come back from work, I used to operate it on my own. I started with just my laptop and it started growing from there. I haven’t taken any financial aid from my family or otherwise. I started off with one computer, and everything you see around you now is self-made. Basically, I didn’t take any money from home, and I kept on making money and investing it back. I hope this pays off someday, because I am still investing money in this business and that’s why I say it’s an incubation. I don’t want to sell what everybody else is selling. I want to be an extension of my clients: marketing or communication solutions so that they don’t have to travel to look for a solution.”

Do you also help to craft corporate images for new companies?

RA: Yes, that is what advertising does. I have a very thorough advertising background, and luckily the people who work with me all have advertising backgrounds. So that’s what we are made of: building brands. Frankly, that’s where the adrenaline in our business lies. We do a lot of other things — but when it comes to brand building — that’s what keeps us going. It’s the best part: brand building, naming a brand, promoting and creating brands. For example, if someone came to you and said we are launching Coke and we want you to deliver ideas, or we want you to tell us how we should work out a youth cellular network and so, you deliver ideas like Djuice or Ufone and then you start the brand like that, you define the strategy and place. That’s the fun part.”
You also teach media and advertising courses.
RA: “It’s just been a year. I have been giving lectures on advertising and graphic design but recently I started teaching design and media studies. I teach the techniques of media, the camera, the angles, the script writing and the story boarding. According to statistics, 60%-70% of the Pakistani population is classified as youth. It is good to be close to them to see how they think and operate, it brings reality into your advertising. Think of any brand, from telecommunications to banking — all of the brands target that 60%-70% of the population. They invest in them, so it’s good to stay with them and watch them evolve. Over the last decade, they have changed rapidly: they multitask, they don’t study like you and I did; they study while listening to music, they have the TV and Internet on.”
What do you like doing in your spare time?
RA: “I love traveling. I also write songs and poetry. I love watching movies. It’s sometimes irritating watching a film as being a filmmaker, you are noticing things a normal viewer would neglect like shoddy editing.”
What are your favourite films?
RA: “One of my all-time favourites is Crash —  I loved the editing. Story-wise, it’s one film which makes your brain function in a way that you start following the story, and you predict this is going to happen; but each time you think that you are wrong. One of my favorite films isPerfume. Not many girls liked it but I loved 300. I have started appreciating Indian cinema now. Their colours, techniques and cinematography are amazing. I don’t watch many Indian movies but it is good cinema and I support good cinema.”
Who are your role models?
RA: “My teachers: Server Mosavee is an amazing guy; Taher Khan, who I worked with for four years; whoever I have worked with were all great. All my Art and Creative Directors with whom I worked with as a junior; my heart goes out to them and my teachers.”

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