The Pakistan army shoots a soap opera

The series is called “Beyond the Call of Duty” and in 11 weeks the series shows Pakistan military fighting the Taliban (the unusual touch; they are not fighting India). This is a product of the information department of the Pakistani Army and being shown once a week on Pakistan state owned television (PTV).

According to the army the series is based on real life events that happened in the Swat- valley, where the army fought against Taliban forces in 2009.

It is believed to be an attempt to change the reputation the army has with the population. So it’s a gigantic PR/Marketing campaign with the aim to change behavior.

I think its brilliant. This shows how well the army’s information department understands their target group.

Here are some statistics:
60% of the population is in the age group 15-64. Only 36% lives in urban areas. The level of literacy is more than 50% (close to 60% in the female group).

Your two biggest channels with the highest level of penetration are television, and the state owned is by far the biggest, and cell phones (not smart phones).

And as the department obviously know: If you want to change people’s attitude you need to use emotions, so the simple phone alternative with SMS is not an option. So you are left with television. But why do they build a whole TV series, instead of just running a commercial campaign with TV spots?

Well, first of all, they have done it before with great luck. The main difference is that last time it was a Pakistan war hero who was captured by the Indian army and imprisoned in India for many years before he got back to Pakistan. So the story this time is a lot more complicated, now its war against terror and Taliban. And the frontiers are not as obvious as with the war against India. This time it even includes some of their own citizens.  Again this supports the decision to choose a format where they can build and tell a longer story.

A scene from the tv series

Again, a brilliant strategy… Will it work?… time will tell.

Radio Free Europe has more and a link to a trailer for the series.

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