Thursday, February 08, 2007It was with a sense of deja vu that I read the discussion on ads using Pan Asian faces yesterday.
Many Ministers of Information ago, the same directive was issued. Malaysians memang mudah lupa (Malaysians forget easily). We were in a throes of nation-building then.(We still are, but there are delays and missed datelines and cost overruns etc. You know what I mean). Being a rojak nation, in a way, we really do not have a face that is instantly recognizable as Malaysian. Other countries, e.g. Japan or Papua New Guinea would have less of a problem. So, ads had to be made in 3 versions. One for Chinese audience, another for the Malay audience and for certain products, yet another one for the Malaysian Indian audience. During leaner times, there were ads that have the same visuals but different voice-overs. Thus we had Siti Nurhaliza (before she became a Dato') speaking Chinese in an ad.
When the same agency (or the group) handles the same account for a product that is sold throughout Asia, it is natural for the agency to cut costs and produce an ad that can be used with equal effectiveness in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Phillipines and Thailand. So they use a face that can be easily perceived as their own by the audience in the intended market.
As an illustration, look at these two "ads". Don't you think they can be used in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Phillipines and Thailand after changing the crappy copy (the text) and the shirt?
The models are Malaysians.As Malaysian as my own daughters and grandchildren. As Malaysian as Deanna Yussof, Ms Daly, Maya Karin etc. (they are not my daughters or grandchildren though)
I do agree though that ads should be made in Malaysia. Much as I like Brad Pitt, Brittney Spears or recently the EPL stars, I would want Malaysians working in the advertising industry to keep on working, with or without Pan-Asian looking personalities.