Ascuse me? Pakistan’s social media advertisements have a new face

Waseem Hassan Sheikh — if you’re active on social media, then you might have come across his videos and or at least some memes about him. Some know him as Mr Excuse Me, a punch line from his breakthrough video for Kit Kat Talcum Powder that elevated him to social media superstardom overnight. 

Sheikh is known for his unique approach to ads that are not just interesting and captivate audiences but also pocket friendly. This is probably why his videos are so popular among small business owners who want their products or services to be advertised on cable TV.

For them, the best part about hiring Sheikh is that then they don’t have to worry about hiring a lead model as he often appears in his own videos. His unique ability to channel different characters, ranging from Raj from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to Noori Nath of Maula Jatt while still maintaining his unique persona sets him apart from other models and actors.

Sitting in his small one-room office in Lahore’s Chauburji area, Sheikh opens up about his journey and the secrets behind his success.

A graduate from the University of the Punjab, Sheikh said that the basic philosophy behind his work is to entertain people. “I always try to entertain people with my production.”

Sheikh was already directing and writing ads way before he became an internet sensation with the Kit Kat Talcum Powder ad and became a household name. “Once, one of my clients insisted that I should be the model in the video for his restaurant. But my first video was of Kit Kat Talcum Powder.” And it changed everything. “Overnight, I was a social media star,” he said.

“After that, I was asked more and more to act in my own videos.”

Sheikh says he gets calls from all around the world. “People always tell me continue whatever I am doing. They say it’s amazing. Don’t believe the naysayers.”

Commenting on how he deals with all the criticism he has received for his unique style, Sheikh said, “Once someone told me that I had made an advertisement for Johny and Jugnu Burger and asked why don’t I make ads like the ones made by KFC or McDonalds.”

When I asked him if he remembers any of their ads, he said no, said Sheikh. “’But you can’t forget my ads,’ I told him.”

I am proud to be a social media star, he says. “I am my own biggest fan.”

Sheikh is not someone who comes across as a conventional model but he believes he has what it takes to be on the screen. “I saw myself during the post-production of the shoot. If I didn’t like myself on-screen, I wouldn’t have come in front of the camera,” he said.

“The screen is a reality and you cannot hide from it. And, this camera is not just a camera, it’s a whole world.”

Ready for the silver screen

After a successful career on the small screen, Sheikh is taking a big leap and is now ready for a silver screen debut. He will appear alongside Moammar Rana in a movie soon. However, filming was halted recently after the death of the director, Asif Sheikh.

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