Shopee Malaysia takes jab at Lazada with cheeky Valentine's Day video

Shopee Malaysia has taken a cheeky swipe at Lazada Malaysia with its Valentine's Day video to promote its contest that allows consumers to win a date with their loved one.  Eagle-eyed consumers might have noticed that the concept behind Shopee's latest video is somewhat similar to Lazada's "Slash" the Leng Chai Lunar New Year video released earlier this year. Lazada's "Slash" the Leng Chai campaign offered consumers the opportunity to rent a boyfriend and spend time with senior citizens at a nursing home for a reunion luncheon.

Much like Lazada's video, Shopee's spot also starts with close up shots of relatives bombarding the protagonist with questions about her love life and the type of guy she fancies. One even said, "Eh, Shopee can buy boyfriend ah?" This was accompanied by subtitles including "Later ask boyfriend questions again...sibeh sien ah", "Where can? 'Slash' also cannot la..." and "Wah this video promote 'kao kao'".

The scene then cuts to the protagonist bringing home a boyfriend during Valentine's Day, much to the surprise of her relatives. Shopee then seized the opportunity to poke fun at Lazada using the subtitles "Wink so powderful, real boyfriend not the renting boy one leh" and "We more atas lor, use DSLR one".

In the video, the boyfriend is seen kneeling down and asking the protagonist's grandmother to be his valentine. This was also accompanied by the subtitles "No need go old folks home, spend real quality time with them. Sayangi-lah orang tuamu." and "Ini baru sayang sebenarnye, don't need to lie and rent a boyfriend."

In a statement to A+M, Shopee's spokesperson said it wanted to take on a humorous and memorable approach and saw the opportunity to respond to Lazada's "Slash" the Leng Chai Lunar New Year video without being disrespectful. "It was a lightbulb moment. The parody was merely a banter. No malice was intended," the spokesperson said.

It wanted to challenge the boundaries of what the Valentine's Day celebration is all about. On the commercial front, Shopee's spokesperson said that the celebration mainly focused on romance. However, it wanted to introduce the meaning of love and appreciation towards all loved ones, be it friends, partners, parents or grandparents.

According to the spokesperson, the team was given only less than a week to ideate and finalise the storyboard before it went ahead with the production of the video. As with most of our commercials and videos, the idea came from the internal marketing team.

Shopee's Valentine's Day video is a lead up to the other initiatives under its Valentine's Day celebration campaign. The spot was launched to offer a holistic feel-good experience by interacting and engaging with users first with a good laugh followed by a host of other activities and specially-curated content.

"The most effective form of marketing is word of mouth marketing. The question is then how to get people to talk about you? As a brand that is young, fun and most recently proven to be sophisticatedly witty, the inspiration came from our aspiration to capture the attention of all Malaysians. This would then translate into genuine and long-term brand affinity. It cannot always be about sales and discounts, and that means, injecting true human emotions in our marketing efforts," Shopee's spokesperson added.

Responding to the video in a statement to A+M, Lazada Malaysia's CMO Andrew Gnananantham said "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" and the company is honoured that its Lunar New Year campaign is getting so much fanfare, including inspiring the reproduction by Shopee.

"In today's world, brands are vying for limited attention and it has become increasingly challenging to be original. That is why it is important for brands to have strict internal governance on authenticity, across all parts of the business. At Lazada, we're proud to be constantly innovating and we look forward to creating more engaging campaigns for our customers," he added.

According to statistics from Meltwater, some of the trending themes of Shopee's campaign include "Sky Malaysia experience", "lucky couples", "true love", "away the perfect date" and "total of 16 tickets". Mimrah Mahmood, regional director of media solutions, Meltwater said that competing brands duking it out and making fun of each other is nothing new, but with social media, these interactions unfold in real-time and to a very wide, very responsive audience.

"Brands that choose to engage in these kinds of exchanges online need to be nimble in order to respond quickly and get the most out of the moment," Mahmood said.

Meanwhile, statistics from Digimind showed that majority of public chatter about #ShopeeMyValentine on social media came from influencers, many of who compared the video to Lazada's but without ever explicitly mentioning Lazada. The concept of a rental boyfriend for festive occasions like Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day garnered focus in these posts.

According to Digimind, a deeper look into comments on these posts show that most followers did not comment further on the similarities between the videos. However, some people mentioned that the Shopee video was funny, with many people laughing emoji. Among the list of trending topics identified by Digimind were "Slash the", "funnier", "leng chai video", "yasmin ahmad" and psst".

(Read also: Shopee taps K-pop group BLACKPINK as first-ever regional brand ambassador)