November 23, 2011   48 notes

Cognitive dissonance and the youth of Pakistan

Having the chance to speak to the young people of Pakistan on behalf of our client has been a real privilege. The target group that they have identified for the integrated campaign that we are developing for them is an interesting one. In a country where, as described by the CSO at the local lead creative agency, the scale of wealth goes from -10 to +10, rather than 0-10, the client is looking to speak to a primarily AB socio-economic group. Biggest potential for increasing margins, disproportionately active online, meaning that the brand can engage with them across more touchpoints, and that they will themselves be the infulencers and trendsetters that will increase their customer base. But enough of the dry marketing strategy.
The most curious thing about this group was their incredible capacity to hold two seemingly contradictory ideas in their minds. On one hand, when asked about life of Pakistan, they were incredibly negative, citing corruption, cheating, and endemic issues in the country’s political system. Yet ask them about their lives, they are sheltered from this by their relative wealth. They are pessimistic, negative, yet content. Horrified by the state of life in Pakistan, they are anaesthetised by their own particular existence. Worse still, when the papers are talking about 80,000 middle school papers being remarked in Rawlpindi alone, you have to wonder the extent to which these wealthy, upper middle class Pakistani young people, bemoaning cheating and bribery culture are also the same beneficiaries of that culture. Everything is bad, but my life is great; cheating is bad, I take the leg-ups I can get. Ironically, it is these individuals that come from these wealthier families that have the time and scope to do something, but ultimately it would mean having to resolve these two conflicting internalisations.

One group I spoke to on a Friday night at a local ‘hangout’ displayed this cognitive dissonance. Citing endemic corruption as being one of Pakistan’s major problems, they went on to explain how they sped their own National Identity Card process up by ‘paying extra’ with a wry smile. Maybe this is the willful blindness of youth, of half formed ideas, but it seems as though the corruption may be so endemic that they have disconnected generalities from specifics. One very serious student that we spoke to in a home interview claimed that the youth was essentially morally bankrupt and was only concerned with material possessions and wasted their time online rather than taking action n their communities. What did he mainly use the internet for? Facebook. Favourite brands? Apple and Mercedes Benz.

There is no doubt an element of the naivety of youth that allows this seemingly opposing ideas to be held at the same time, especially as they all live at home for university and come across as young- for 21 year old, think 17 or 18, but there is a real underlying sense that despite they will decry the problems, there is a sense that the crime isn’t the cheating or the bribery, but the getting caught. But looking at the attitudes of looters when interviewed in London this summer, live on Sky, feeling no sense of guilt in the act of taking when interviewed, that may be a universal theme…
  1. failtoplan posted this