99.co pays tribute to iconic macho Mocca man from 2007 ad in new spot

Real estate and property portal 99.co has released its new commercial campaign starring the 2007 Internet viral figure, “Mocca Man”. 99.co’s commercial mimics that of the original ad by the now-defunct Mocca (MediaCorp’s Online Communities and Classified Advertising). The rebooted ad shows “Mocca Man”, Ben Ha, demonstrating the simplicity and reliability of 99.co’s smart property search function. The video ends with a close-up shot of Ha’s back, with “99.co” written on his back as a tribute to the ending in the old mocca commercial. The commercial was done in collaboration with CreativesAtWork.

Titled "Hi, I Want To Buy House on 99.co", the ad ran on 99.co’s YouTube channel and received generally positive responses. The YouTube video garnered just under 3,000 views within a day of uploading, and 99.co’s Facebook post has over 100,000 views and 3,500 shares, with comments praising 99.co for the tactful use of nostalgia. A check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE also found that the commercial also ran on Instagram Stories.

According to 99.co, its decision to select Ha to promote its platform was due to his familiarity among netizens. Jesslyn Kwong, VP, digital solutions and performance told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the brand thought it would be “fun and nostalgic" to bring Mocca Man back, as it ties back closely to first-time home buyers and property upgraders. Kwong said it would be a story that appeals to first-time home buyers and property upgraders as many would remember this as “one of the all-time viral marketing campaigns”. She added that Ha’s puns about getting ‘swole’ (extremely muscular), lifting weights and flexing his muscles add light humour and serve as a good reminder of how challenging it usually is when it comes to finding a suitable home.”

The project had been in the works for a few years, as Ha was in Vietnam and only reconnected with 99.co when he came back to Singapore in February this year. The creative concept was then conceptualised based on his humorous character. Rather than using the actual lines from the 2007 Mocca ad, the company decided to add a modern touch, linking the ad to 99.co's tagline, “smarter property search”. Therefore, puns such as “ABSolutely reliable”, “FLEXible” and “WORKING out great for me” were included in the ad.

The marketing campaign will run until August across TV channels including Channel 8, Channel 5 and Channel News Asia, as well as radio and digital to appeal to audiences cross channel. According to Kwong, the company believes it is important to reach users across various channels, especially those who have watched the original ad on TV 15 years ago and now again. 99.co will also be focusing heavily on digital, especially when most users research and find properties on online portals like 99.co.

The campaign’s main objective is to drive brand awareness and user demand acquisition. Kwong said it will be monitoring direct brand uplift and new users to its portal, and the touchpoints users take across the features it incorporated within the ad.

Meanwhile, CEO Darius Cheung told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: "Ha is iconic to Singaporeans, it took me three years to find him and bring him back, we are excited to see our beloved pipes back in action."

Ha added that he had been concerned if the Singapore audience would still welcome him appearing on TV again after 15 years, and was grateful towards the support he received from the response towards the commercial. "I felt comfortable chatting with the 99.co team, this explains why the whole commercial video was well taken care of and fun. They made me feel homely. I'm happy with the good response for this ad," he said.

In February, 99 Group appointed Merkle company, dentsu’s Happy Marketer as its digital partner to drive its data-led digital marketing roadmap. Separately, 99.co also appointed former PropertyGuru Indonesia’s country manager Wasudewan as its new deputy CEO for Indonesia.

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