polite Pakistanis, pot & branding


Every once in awhile a news item fascinates me because it teaches me something.

And the “death of Osama” (here-to-fore referred to as ‘the event’) taught me a couple of things (beyond that fact Navy Seals are tough motherf’ers and can shoot straighter than Butch Cassidy or the Sundance Kid). It taught me a little about the Pakistanis culturally as well as the relationship between terrorism pot and brands.


The Pakistanis are polite (beyond apparently being generous hosts to terrorists).

It appears that Bin Laden’s team frequented a nearby grocery store (not quite a Trader Joe’s but close … okay … not really) which offered its elite western-type grocery items like Top Ramen, Coke/Pepsi, Planter’s peanuts (mixed) and stuff like that (I will comment on the Coke/Pepsi issue later). And this gourmet grocer was only about 150 meters (think maybe a football field and a half) distance from the Pakistani mansion (sweet low income American housing option) that good ole Osama was hanging out in.

When interviewed the owner of Abbottabad Trader Joe’s grocer, Anjum Qaisar said: “Bin Laden’s men never came by foot, they always drove a Pajero or a little Suzuki van, and they bought enough food for ten people. I was curious about why they bought so much food, but I did not want to be rude by asking.”


How polite is this guy? (pretty polite)

He thought it was odd but thought it would be rude to ask (the machine guns hanging over their shoulders which kept on knocking over the aisle displays of Campbell’s chicken noodle while shopping was also aggravating but he didn’t discusss that with them either).

I make this point just to give credit to a nice cultural characteristic of that particular region. Politeness. And they mind their own business. Nice.

Plus. If I were handling the Pakistan Tourism campaign I may have used this as a basis for “come to Pakistan” advertising (that’s a freebie in case anyone wants to use it).


Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …


Now maybe we have another reason for his politeness.

Marijuana. Less than 2 football fields away from this 27 year old grocer was a frickin’ field of marijuana.

So. Maybe he wasn’t being polite. Maybe he just thought these two guys constantly had the munchies.

Why would he think they were hiding the world’s foremost terrorist and buying food for a small army? He just thought with all that marijuana they were stoned and hungry.


Ganja strength marijuana was found just yards from the Pakistan mansion of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. Now. I am certainly not suggesting Bin (what his close friemnds called him) was a stoner but his ‘posse’ certainly may have been.

But CNN reported that the marijuana plants were growing alongside other crops including cabbages and potatoes (of which were apparently not enough to sate the munchies).

I guess I never really believed they were always smoking tobacco in those water pipes anyway so this provides some additional confirmation.

It seems reporters wandering outside the compound after “the event” noticed the “pungent line of plants growing in the dry fields surrounding the compound.”  (and I am quite pleased to note the Navy Seals did not appear to take any on their way out after ‘the event’)

Not to make light of terrorism and this asshole but thinking of the world’s most feared terrorists team as stoners is pretty frickin’ awesome.


The last thing of note from ‘the event’ appears to appeal to my marketing sense … the power of brands and branding.

I was quite pleased (from a branding perspective) to note some details about bin Laden’s lifestyle as some of the neighbors spoke of their experience of living next to the world’s most wanted terrorist. According to a shopkeeper the two young men who lived inside the compound with bin Laden made regular trips for bulk food orders (think CostCo or Sam’s but Pakistani-style). The grocery basket included extensive supplies of Pepsi and Coke. So despite the fact bin Laden could have bought the Pakistani private brand (paKoke or something like that) at almost half the price as the famous US brands Osama elected to pay the higher price for the good stuff.

Once again.

Proof that branding works.

Capitalism at its best (somewhat fueled by pot … but who cares).

There you go. Some lessons learned from this recent event.

Written by Bruce