Tech, Now + Beyond

This app tried to play cupid in Pakistan – what happened next was hilarious

A few days ago, people all over Pakistan woke up to the app notification, "Your rishta has arrived!"

Almost every Desi girl above the age of 18 has had an encounter with a dreaded Rishta Aunty; the Desi version of a matchmaker.

Rishta Aunties are everywhere, be it at a wedding, a family gathering or sometimes even a funeral. There is always an aunty who scopes the venue for young unmarried women and then flips through her mental Rolodex of eligible bachelors who might make a suitable life partner for her.

The Rishta Aunty will ask you a myriad of questions which at times are borderline invasive. And, if you are not interested in marriage at all, those questions might just seem plain annoying.

But we cannot ignore the fact that arranged marriages are a norm among Desi families and Rishta Aunties are a vital part of this process. As a profession, the Rishta Aunty business has flourished.

Marriage has become a lucrative industry to be part of.

A lot of times, the most sought-after Rishta Aunties charge a hefty amount for their services. And if the pairing is successful and leads to a wedding; then you have to pay them a handsome amount (a finder’s fee of sorts), as well as other gifts such as clothes, jewelry or whatever, was mutually agreed upon.

Not everyone has the money or time to set an appointment with a Rishta Aunty to discuss what they want in a life partner and ask for their help in finding one.

This is where a ride hailing app, Careem, came up with an unusual, almost crazy, marketing strategy: letting Pakistanis schedule a ride with a Rishta Aunty on the app! Customers only had to pay their usual fare and did not have to pay any charges of meeting the Rishta Aunty.

This was done to generate a buzz about Careem’s services. In the past, Uber’s taken unconventional routes by delivering bagpipe players on St. Patricks day in certain cities in America, and a band serenading on Valentine’s Day in Dubai.

Working in the same vein, Careem Pakistan gave the option to its customers of ordering the ‘Rishta Aunty’ car type. The customer could schedule a ride and travel to their destination with a Rishta Aunty who would then try and find a possible life partner for them during their commute.

People who tried the offer said the ‘Rishta Aunty’ asked them a few questions about the qualities they wanted  in their significant others, and did one of two things: either produced suitable matches right there and then or they asked these individuals to fill out forms with a bunch of questions, so they could be contacted when a suitable match popped up for them.

While a lot of people expressed confusion and even annoyance at waking up to a Careem notification saying, “Your rishta has arrived,” the company merely tried to make the spouse hunting process easier for Pakistanis.

If the main idea for this campaign was to generate a buzz around Careem, then the company was pretty successful. Almost everyone in Pakistan has been talking about this Rishta Aunty campaign.

And if someone does end up getting married because of this campaign, then it’s another feather Careem can add to their cap.