Unravelling #Merdeka: Brands open up on their campaign executions

It has been an eventful couple of weeks in Malaysia, and will continue to be so as Malaysia celebrates its 60th anniversary this coming Merdeka. This year's Merdeka celebrations fall in line with the nation's 29th edition Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and Hari Raya Haji.  Moreover, the country also received its new "1Malaysia Negaraku" logo, launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak just last week.

In conjunction with the Merdeka and National Day celebrations tomorrow, many brands are also taking the opportunity to spread the messages of love, forgiveness, happiness and unity in our multi-racial country.

We talk to some leading brands and agencies in Malaysia as to their thought processes behind this year's campaigns.


Conceptualised by Naga DDB Tribal, Digi's Merdeka ad this year wanted to create something which "has never been done" before.

Naga DDB Tribal's executive creative director Alvin Teoh told A+M, the agency sent out small teams of people to capture the faces of people in Malaysia from all walks of life. Produced by Think Tank, the film captured the diverse landscape and people in Malaysia with a rap which questions what unity truly means.

"Are we motivated by the same things? Do we all hold similar things dearly? What makes us humans? What makes us Malaysians?" are some of the questions asked in the song.

"We love this land so much and we are all concerned by the same things. The frantic rush of planning and capturing the spirit of that message and the result is this film. We hope we’ve done it justice," Teoh said. He explained that while a small portion of the shoot was planned, the vast majority were chance encounters.

"This, we hope, represents the real face of this land," Teoh said.



This year, Maxis wanted Malaysians to appreciate the country's beauty with its Merdeka film titled "Buatan Malaysia". The ad also serves to promote its MyMaxis app in which Malaysians could benefit from deals and promotions while exploring the country.

Ensemble Worldwide partnered with Kingdom Digital to co-conceptualise the campaign while APD created the microsite. The almost four-minute ad is so on point to show the tremendous love of a parent for a child, all while showing the beauty of Malaysia via the eyes of a boy named Nazmi.

"It’s funny how many Malaysians still prefer foreign to local, including holiday destinations. With this latest Maxis 4G film 'Buatan Malaysia’, we saw an opportunity invite Malaysians to rediscover more of our country with a little help from Maxis 4G," Sulin Lau, head of marketing at Maxis, said.

She added that for this campaign, Maxis also worked closely with local travel, destination and F&B partners to create hundreds of special offers within the MyMaxis App that help you discover every corner of the country.


Meanwhile, Petronas' four-minute film which features badminton legends, Rashid Sidek and Foo Kok Keong, promotes the essence and value of teamwork and perseverance for a better Malaysia. The ad was conceptualised by Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur and directed by the Rubber Boy film director Ismail Kamarul, on a three-day filming around the Klang Valley.

Through the webfilm, Sidek was reportedly saying he hopes the younger generation would be encouraged to uphold the nation's name at the international stage and work hard to achieve success. Foo said he wanted to see Malaysia’s young taking up the challenge and hopes the ad would inspire Malaysian contingent competing in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games to emerge as the overall champion.

There is also a 60-second TV commercial carrying the same theme, which will run until 17 September. Petronas could not comment more on the insight behind the campaign at the time of writing.


To commemorate Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day, Watsons Malaysia released its #SatuNation film on Facebook to inspire Malaysians to rise up and press on in the face of challenges. The ad has been receiving mainly positive reviews from netizens and this in turn, which helped Watsons bounce back from the saga of its “Legenda Cun Raya” campaign in June this year.

This video also marks the first tie-up between Watsons and FCB Kuala Lumpur following the agency's appointment on a project basis.

Adding on the meaning and concept of this film, Shaun Tay, CEO of FCB Kuala Lumpur said, "There’s no magic formula to success. Just lots of work and the guts to keep pushing ahead, that’s what this film is about. It’s homage to people and their own personal Merdeka moments."


On the other hand, Axiata and Celcom collaborated this year to produce a delightful short film entitled "Emma", that is inspired by the true story of a young British teacher who was sent to Malaysia in the 1970s to teach and eventually makes Malaysia her home.

In the film, Emma experiences the unique nuances of the multi-racial Malaysian people through her students, echoing the essence of what a united Malaysia is and how we continue to celebrate this unity in peace and harmony.

Created by Celcom's creative agency M&C Saatchi, the three and a half minutes film has garnered close to 1.7 million views on Celcom’s YouTube channel at the point of writing.


Meanwhile, some other prominent brands which are also celebrating the national day with their own unique Merdeka campaigns include McDonald's Malaysia and Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Malaysia brought one of Malaysia's top artists Reggie Lee on board to launch a set of "The Merdeka" limited edition cans in commemorating the country's 60 years of independence. Launched on 22 August, "The Merdeka" edition Coca-Cola cans feature a set of four drawings in Lee’s unmistakable style that depict popular topics among Malaysians - food, public holidays, badminton and a sense of community.

Meanwhile, McDonald's Malaysia is tapping into the king of fruits by launching its D24 Durian McFlurry with real D24 durians, as part of the Merdeka campaign. Eugene Lee, marketing director of McDonald's Malaysia, said the D24 Durian McFlurry launch was meant to celebrate Malaysian flavors, and it was rolled out together with the main campaign "Burger Syok", accompanied by two other desserts - the Pulut Hitam Pie and Kon Gemilang (corn-flavoured cone).

However, the fast food chain has just announced yesterday that its popular D24 Durian McFlurry is officially sold out.

Have you seen any other cool campaign or product initiatives this Merdeka? Share them with us at venush@marketing-interactive.com.