CNY greeting from Tourism Malaysia ambassador Luis Suarez gets red card

Last year, Tourism Malaysia (TM) sealed a year-long partnership with FC Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez.

Naturally, as Chinese New Year – one of the biggest festivities in Malaysia – rolled around, Suarez wanted to (or was contracted to) tweet out a greeting about Malaysia and wish its people a Happy Chinese New Year.

Unfortunately, the image used by Suarez to greet Malaysia wasn’t of the best choice. It featured him wearing a traditional Indian outfit and greeting Malaysian folks in Tamil with the word “Vanakkam”. Here’s the image used and some of the responses from Malaysian fans.

The image used was part of a video created by the Tourism Malaysia where Suarez was seen learning some “basic Malaysian words” to get him ready for his trip to Malaysia.

The spot by Tourism Malaysia posted on 16 of February also saw netizens commenting that the production could have been better.

One netizen said that the cost for Suarez to appear in the video could’ve been used to get renowned Malaysian artists and create a spot with better production quality. Several also criticised the ad for looking old fashioned and asked for “professional consult”. Some pointed out that given the unique nature of the country, using Suarez for the video wasn’t necessary – especially with price tag attached to him.

The deal, according to Malaysia Kini saw the government spend a total RM7.5 million for the whole campaign, which included RM4.4 million on advertisements.

However, when the deal was first inked, a Tourism Malaysia spokesperson had said in a statement to Bernama that the deal was expected to drive interest for Malaysia as a tourist destination, leveraging on the football player’s popularity around the world. Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz said the football star was not only among the world’s top-ranking footballers “but also a respected community leader”. He also called the footballer a “hero” and “an inspiration” to many.

The tourism body also expressed hope that this “will shine the limelight on Malaysia as a tropical holiday destination” that draws in Millennials.

Read also: How brands hijacked Luis Suarez’s World Cup bite

Rezwana Manjur
Southeast Asia Editor
Marketing Magazine Singapore
Rezwana Manjur, a true blue city girl and complete social animal, spends half her time sifting through advertising scandals, and the other half testing out brands' retail marketing strategies at the mall. She enjoys traveling and fantasising over the charming lads on hit TV show Mad Men. Most weekends, she turns nocturnal, except when brunch comes into play.

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