July 28 - Aug 03, 2003




IRFAN AAMIR is the Director of O2 Communications, a Marketing and PR Consultancy with in-house design capabilities. O2 Communication was formed in June 2002. Before setting up O2, Irfan was working as Client Service Executive and PR Manager at Adcom, a renowned advertising agency. His portfolio of clients at Adcom included Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB), Pizza Hut and Inbox Business Technologies. Prior to Adcom, he was working at Cupola Pakistan as Brand Manager of TGIFridays and Pizza Express and PR Manager of Cupola Pakistan. He has also worked with CMC, a PR agency where he was working with clients such as Intel and Cupola Pakistan. Prior to CMC he was with Orientale Aviation Services as Customer Services Manager.

PAGE: What made you take the step of forming your own company?

IRFAN AAMIR: Let's just say forming a dynamic marketing and PR consultancy was on the cards for a very long time and it all finally happened last year. It certainly happens a lot more in this industry than any other where you see employees walking around dreaming of having an agency of their own. If you look around, many advertising and PR companies today are owned by people who used to work for one agency or the other.

PAGE: What do you think is the future for companies similar to yours?

IRFAN: It is not a secret that the overall advertising business is disintegrating into smaller more focused services outlets. Media buying houses, PR companies, event specialists and design houses, all these organizations are essentially providing the services that were being bought from or sourced via a traditional advertising agency. Perhaps clients have realized that it is not possible for an ad agency to focus on all these critical areas. Consequently, in the last 10 years or so we have seen a deluge of such professional and more focused marketing solutions shops. No appreciable growth has taken place in the advertising industry as such. This perhaps gives us an idea of times to come and the shape of this industry. Bigger advertising agencies have already started focusing on this situation and some have setup specialized media buying houses, PR and event management companies as well in some cases. So to answer the question, the future looks good and seriously competitive.

PAGE: How seriously does the industry take Marketing & PR Consultancy?

IRFAN: I have always believed that clients will take you as seriously as you want them to or as seriously as you deserve to be. Marketing and PR efforts are very important to clients and they want quality advice and reliable support. Unfortunately these two elements are not the hallmarks of our industry. It is perhaps therefore that you see a lot of movement in this industry. Clients are on a perpetual prowl for a better agency. I generally call this relationship a relationship between the ungrateful and the unfaithful. Mediocrity does not have a future in this trade and a very short shelf life. Companies that are willing to sweat it out and make genuine efforts to add value to their client's business will always be placed on a higher pedestal by the clients. Though marketing and PR consultancies have been around for a while now, it is only recently that they have started making their mark.

PAGE: Do you think marketing/advertising and PR as industries provide quality carrier options?

IRFAN: While entrepreneurs have done exceedingly well in this industry, there aren't many examples of individuals rising to the top, especially for advertising agencies. It is also a fact that advertising industry itself has not attracted quality human resources. I personally believe that with changing times and more client involvement the quality of marketing and advertising organizations is improving and they are now willing to offer good remuneration for deserving candidates. Young business managers are keener to join multinational companies or large local brands to pursue their carriers. A lot of them feel that the restrictive environments of individually owned advertising agencies won't offer them sufficient growth opportunities.

PAGE: What are your future expansion plans?

IRFAN: With the grace of Almighty from the day one we have been able to establish priorities for our business. Firstly we wanted to form the right team, we know from experience that without qualified, professional and committed people we cannot go a long distance. We now have a team together and we have ambitions of spreading out locally as well as internationally. We are currently looking at introducing our services in Dubai and London. Nationwide, we are planning to setup a liaison office in Islamabad and we will be aiming to do a lot of creative and consultancy work online as well.