#MarketingExcellenceAwards MY 2020 highlight: How BFM 89.9 struck gold by tapping on Malaysians' love for street food

BFM 89.9 is a local radio station that is known for being a challenger in the industry, and is highly regarded for its strong network of listeners, mainly consisting of business leaders or professionals. It is also known for its response to Netflix’s exclusion of Malaysian food in its documentary series Street Food Asia, where it created its own episode featuring street food that locals love which was done in partnership with Fishermen Integrated.

Created in partnership with Fishermen Integrated, the campaign titled “#BersatuForMakan”, won the radio station a gold award at A+M’s Marketing Excellence Awards 2020 for the category “Excellence in Consumer Insights/Market Research”. 

BFM and Fishermen Integrated also won gold for the categories Excellence in Customer Engagement, Excellence in Social Media Marketing, Excellence in Viral Marketing with the same campaign.

The campaign also fostered a sense of unity among Malaysians and brands in Malaysia, when it was launched in line for National Day. Find out more on how the campaign captured the hearts of our judges.

Challenge

In Malaysia, National Day has become an opportunity for brands to flood social media with campaigns that try to unite Malaysians, usually using flashy patriotic videos that require hefty production and media budgets.

These brands deploy a similar tactic - using brand films to showcase unity in the country by highlighting what makes people Malaysian. These videos normally only allow for one-way communication, as the messages are disseminated from the brand to the user without any room for user interaction. Each brand tries and struggles to be heard, and everyone who goes down this route wants a share of voice in the competitive landscape.

Standing out from the crowd, local radio station BFM 89.9 and Fishermen Integrated decided to put the generic patriotism aside for its National Day campaign. Instead, the radio station wanted to unite Malaysians “for real” with something all Malaysians are truly passionate about: Malaysian food.

The challenge was then to come up with a unique and compelling idea that helped the radio station stand out among the competitive clutter, at a time when brands were actively competing for a place in users’ minds, hearts, and social media news feeds - but with a minimal marketing budget.

Strategy

The campaign was sparked by Netflix’s launch of its culinary documentary series Street Food Asia. While the series featured food from Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, Netflix left Malaysia out of the show. This sparked outrage among many Malaysians who make Malaysian street food a staple in their everyday lives.

This incident presented itself as the perfect opportunity for BFM, which then decided to turn this anger into unity. Collaborating with Fishermen Integrated, the radio station launched a campaign rallying Malaysians to “Bersatu For Makan” (which means to unite for food).

BFM and Fishermen Integrated rallied Malaysians together by running a petition calling for Netflix to include Malaysia as part of the series. Although Netflix did not respond to the petition, BFM saw that Malaysians and brands in Malaysia were starting and participating in many conversations around the topic. People and brands even offered contributions for BFM to create its episode happen.

Then, on Malaysia Day, both parties looked to launch its very own 30-minute Malaysian Street Food episode online, featuring the best of Malaysian street food, made by the entire nation. The aim was to create an episode that Netflix could just take and run with.

Execution

BFM and Fishermen Integrated started the #BersatuForMakan campaign with a call-to-action video posted on BFM’s YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and website that introduced the campaign to Malaysians. It then rallied Malaysians to sign the petition by developing an on-air shoutout.

As more Malaysians started signing the petition, people also began sharing this on social media with the hashtag #BersatuForMakan. With the impact the team was seeing, it then looked to engineer a bigger virality to the campaign.

Knowing that its reputation is for being a business radio station, BFM and Fishermen Integrated decided to try something new which no other brand has done before - to use its social media platform to spark conversations on Facebook and Instagram with brands that have a bigger online following. This engagement started a new trend and went viral, even outside Facebook and Instagram.

Malaysians, CEOs, CMOs, and marketers all wanted to join in on the conversation. Brands also started to respond, and for the first time in Malaysian history, BFM and Fishermen Integrated brought together more than 80 brands for one common cause - to support and rally together to showcase Malaysian pride to the world. Many brands pledged their contributions openly on social media, which included air tickets, transportation, tours, accommodation, and more. Brands also tagged their competitors to be part of the campaign, which demonstrated a true showcase of unity.

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On Malaysia Day, BFM and Fishermen Integrated then released an entire episode for Malaysians, featuring three of Malaysia’s most unique street food - Nasi Lemak Tanglin, Pak Lan Roti Canai, and Choon Hui Sarawak Laksa. The video emulated the Netflix Street Food style closely, as the idea was to create a video so close to the series format that all Netflix needed to do was run it on air and make Malaysia proud.

Additionally, both parties also hosted a premiere of the full episode at an event, together with 80 partner brands to celebrate the launch of its own episode.

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Results

The #BesatuForMakan campaign saw more than 20,000 people signing the petition in a short period of time, and over 80 brands coming together to pledge their support.

With the big brands pledging on their social pages as well as the pledges from Malaysians, the campaign grew its reach to more than three million users online, of which 80% were done organically.

BFM and Fishermen Integrated created a trend and movement for Malaysians, which resulted in many conversations about Malaysian street food that generated more than RM700k in earned media. Additionally, BFM’s #BesatuForMakan campaign became the talk of the town and its social media saw a 628% increase in engagement as compared to before the campaign.

The campaign united both Malaysians and well-known brands in Malaysia. It moved away from the typical video story-telling patriotism on Malaysia Day, and created a movement Malaysians could actively engage in. With a very limited media budget, BFM and Fishermen Integrated brought Malaysians together for something which represents Malaysia – its street food.