MY brands surprisingly quiet on Michelle Yeoh's golden globe win: A missed opportunity?

MY brands surprisingly quiet on Michelle Yeoh's golden globe win: A missed opportunity?

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Actress Michelle Yeoh has been making headlines for her win, and relatable attitude, at the Golden Globe awards. The 60 year old Malaysian actress from Ipoh took home the awards for Best Actress In A Musical Or Comedy Motion Picture for her performance in the critically acclaimed film, Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Yeo’s win has been covered by many of the mainstream and alternative press in Malaysia, and additionally she has won praise from many international publications for her relatable attitude in asking the orchestra to shush as they tried to indicate her moment of acceptance was drawing to an end.

In a joking manner, the actress ordered the music to stop as it interrupted her speech, saying: “Shut up, please. I can beat you up, OK? And I’m serious.”

While Yeoh’s win was extensively covered, a quick check by A+M found that brands in Malaysia were surprisingly mum about the matter. A check with several agencies by the journalists in the newsroom also saw that not many had plans to jump on the trending conversation.

Andy Ng, head of performance content and social, Mediabrands Content Studio (MBCS) agreed that there hasn’t been much executions or trendjacking that the agency has seen. This could be because brands might find it hard to chime in contextually and are always asking how their brand can play a role in such conversations, explained Ng.

“But that's the beauty of organic social, it is really more about finding how we can create authentic content that speaks to the consumers rather than always needing for the product to be part of the content. However, I’m sure that we will soon see more Malaysian brands approaching her across brand ambassadorship, and to represent them as the voice of their brand,” Ng added.

He added that it is definitely important for brands to remember to celebrate wins, and a  simple gesture of celebrating her achievement as a Malaysian will resound for Malaysians and other minorities all around the globe. “That, in itself, is gold dust,” said Ng.

Calling it a missed opportunity, Joey Gan, country lead for PRecious communications in Malaysia said that one possible reason could be that Yeoh isn’t an everyday icon everyone can connect to. However, she stressed that brands are definitely missing out as there's every reason to celebrate Yeoh’s success.

“What we got from her win really is that no one is exempt from hard work, commitment, steadfastness even the constant thought of wanting to throw in the towels. Michelle Yeoh is, after all, human,” she said.

From a strategic standpoint, brands join trends as a means to bring a conversation to their brand, to connect with new audiences. “Tan Sri Michelle's win is undoubtedly a monumental achievement- but took many by surprise- which may be why brands chose against joining the conversation”, explained Ashvin Anamalai, the previosu chief strategist at BeStrategic. Most of the time, trendjacking can be effective when the conversations  can be credibly, or creatively joined in, however the conversations were not there.“There just wasn't enough build-up nor relevant chatter to create value for the brand,” he said. Morevoer, joining in conversations just for the sake of it does not bring value for a brand. “When the stars do align, it can convert well-timed, well-placed copy into brand currency that pays out into increased market share,” he added. 

Tanner Nagib, founder of Beatnk added that while he can’t speak for all Malaysians or Malaysian brands, a safe assumption might be that Yeoh hasn’t connected with the people in Malaysia for a really long time. “That lack of presence locally is likely one of the main reasons brands aren’t jumping on board,” he said.

Stating that it isn’t a missed opportunity, Nagib said: “If brands could spend the money on famous Malaysians it wouldn’t be her. The local and international scene have plenty of others that are more relevant.”

The Golden Globes returned recently after being embroiled in a scandal, following allegations of racism, corruption and sexual assault. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) came under fire after the LA Times broke a story about the unethical behaviour of the organisation regarding racial diversity. Following the exposé, big names in Hollywood, like Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johansson boycotted the awards show.

Hence, NBC refused to broadcast the Golden Globes Awards show in 2022. Prior to NBC's decision, HFPA was also met with a lawsuit in August 2020 by Norwegian reporter Kjersti Flaa, who sued the organisation for the repeated denial of membership she faced, said a report on Variety.

(Photo courtesy: Golden Globe Facebook page)

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