Challenges for BSN after the resounding success of Kucing Happy

Bank Simpanan Nasional's (BSN) journey from a brand which was perceived by others as old, traditional or “laid back”, to one which resonated with the every man was not built in a day. In fact, it was a long journey fueled by content. Creating content  for the brand, also meant facing a constant stream of trial and errors.

Speaking at A+M's Content 360 Malaysia conference, Puspa Marina Omar, SVP of strategic communications at BSN said that while management is quick to ask for justification and ROI, the role of content is not one which will lead to immediate results.

“You may not get ROI immediately with content, but content is about planting a seed in consumers' minds. This is so that in the consumer’s subconscious somewhere, they know that your brand, and in our case BSN exists in their mind,” Omar said. So while they might not spend with you immediately, you are in their frame of awareness and this will pay off in the long run, explained Omar.

“Get the engagement, get the reach and essentially build the relationship. You may get consumers coming to see you now, or you may not but along the way you put the brand on their radar,” Omar added.

Content creation, she argued, is not new. It has been around for ages and is central to promoting your business. But the method in which content is now handled is different primarily because the marketplace is changing and hence, challenges brands face in this current landscape is also evolving. She explained:

All industries face the content creation problem as the space to stand out gets even more narrowed.

"It is important for a brand to find its niche as customers no longer respond to a one size fits all approach," she added. Brands, as such need to identify the challenges which is unique to itself, its industry in particular and especially within the organisation and business.

For BSN, she added, it is about building relationships.

"At the end of the day, in the minds of Millennials, all financial products sound the same. A bank is a bank. For us in this industry, our clients don’t want just business solutions, they want more personal financing, and they want all that and more,” Omar added.

In the case of BSN, said Omar, it faced a perception issue as customers saw it as a traditional brand. Following a brand audit which was done internally and externally, BSN took a long hard look at itself to mine insights on what affected customers and its various stakeholders in the business. The brand found that it had low brand recall. This was especially prevalent amongst the younger generation as they no longer felt they could resonate with BSN.

This, said Omar, helped the brand come a long way.

“Get to know your customers and be intimate. Really know what makes them tick such as their likes and dislikes,” Omar said.

Before it underwent its major rebranding, BSN decided on the values it wanted to promote which were of social togetherness and unity and resolved to make videos which showcased that. Its first project was #RojakBuah in 2014 which was set in conjunction with the Merdeka.


#RojakBuah was the first time BSN launched a digital campaign. The campaign garnered a reach of 2.8 million with an engagement rate of 50,000. It also had more that 300k views which was above the YouTube views benchmark of 8%.

Omar added that while the company decided to try on a new communication tactic, what it had to stay true to was its brand positioning, no matter the medium it chose to undertake.

“You must say the same thing, tell the same brand story and stay true what the values and business propositions you are offering. If you do that then along the line you will create trust and build relationships,” Omar added.

Inspire by the success of the campaign, it decided to launch the (now very well known) Kucing Happy, six part series which featured a talking cat. The video was sensational with viewers.

The response to Kucing Happy, said Omar, was beyond BSN’s imagination.

"We knew it would be doing six videos but after the first three we realised it had to rewrite everything because of the call to action was overwhelming. We had to respond to what was demanded from our audiences," said Omar.

“People didn't believe that the spot came from the brand,” Omar added.

While Kucing Happy garnered amazing response for the brand, the next concern was figuring out how to sustain that momentum. Consumer expectations of the brand and the content it produces was sky high.

“Deciding on the concept of the video after Kuching Happy was a big challenge,” Omar said. While her management demanded for a follow up to it, Omar and her team decided it was best that they let viewers stay curious and put the series on pause for the time being.

Instead, BSN decided to shift its content strategy to something else, in conjunction with Hari Raya celebrations.

Pengacau Raya was born. BSN wanted to stay true to its beliefs in respecting diversity and appeal to Asians at large and had learnt from previous videos on what worked and what didn't - even if it was small issues such as adding translation from Malay to English and the likes.

The video was inspired by real life stories of people who married into different Malay cultures. It featured a young man called Aloysius who was excited about his first Hari Raya.

In Omar’s point of view, the main takeaway from creating all the different videos over the past two years was finally, creating content which resonates with consumers. She added:

It is all about trial and error. As you map your challenges and your objectives, don’t leave behind your gut feeling. It will tell you if something will work and stay true to what you believe and how you want the company to be projected.

She added staying alert to all that is surrounding you is also crucial.

At the end of the day, she added, its about being authentic and telling a story which keeps true to the organisations personality. A brand should not try to be something it is not as it needs to be able to create a sustainable campaign in the future.

“Say it in a manner that touches your viewers. Have an emotional connection to your viewers so you stay in their minds," she added.