David Teo’s wake-up call for Malaysian media industry

  • Business
  • Saturday, 11 Aug 2012

SOME have tried. Some have had fair success. But generally speaking, the Malaysian ad and media industry is oblivious to how best to reach the pulsating Malay consumer out there.

Let's break it down.

Shamefully, media trends drive marketers to notice the power of the Malay consumer. Then there are the smart ones who know better. People like Tan Thiam Hock, founder of Alliance Cosmetics who risked his intuition about the Malay psyche with Silky Girl and beat L'Oreal at its own game.

Remember a TV commercial some years ago (2003, I think) for Sunsilk which became a hit even though it showed the model in a headscarf with no hair exposed. It was so successful the TVC became a case study on how to advertise to the Muslim market. The model went on to grace the covers of women magazines and spun off interesting fashionable variants, different textured and sequined hijabs, and some even named after her Wardina. That was the turning point for the brand which is now the market leader!

Media trends alert marketers where their advertising investments should go. And with advertising expenditure slated to surpasses RM12bil this year, how much of this growth is for campaigns targeting the Malay heartland is questionable. I am not going to get all statistical here but adex spend is lopsided in favour of the non-Malay consumer.

It's a pity that some media planners have an “Only for FCMG and Rural” label stuck to the Malay demographic. Nothing could be further than the truth. We have 12 million Facebook users and Upin & Ipin is the most popular page in Facebook!

For the record, only 8% of halal food suppliers in Malaysia are Muslims. Over 70% of those involved in the business are non-bumiputras. So you don't have to be a Muslim to run a business catering to Muslims. That's what David Teo is all about.

Segamat-born David Teo is CEO of Metrowealth Pictures. He is riding the wave of Malay demand for riveting content and giving his audience what they want. Malaysia produced 108 local movies last year; that's even higher than during Hong Kong's glory days as the film capital of the Far East! David's Metrowealth Group alone made 22.

And the best part is he did not go to Finas or MDeC for a grant, nor did he have underworld investors. He just reaped what he sowed.

In fact his operations have everything under one roof, creative content creation, sound studios, consumer research and multi-racial crew. He has his own post-production company, MiG Sound Factory and a subsidiary film equipment company, Temasek Studio.

Teo is no fly on the wall. In his quirky yet persistent style, he excelled as a multi-level marketer in a previous life. Born to be a salesman, it is not how he says it, but what he has to say.

With 86 local movie hits under his belt he also handles distribution and management for over 40 box-office artistes. Last year alone, he produced 200 hours of television content.

The kicker is his uncanny ability to know what the Malay psyche is trending and create cult-like followings from such magic. His movie dialogue has found its way into the local lexicon. Common lingo on the streets and among fans follow what his movies say. This man is reinventing language, doesn't get more game changing!

Teo is the first local producer to tie up with Astro First providing pay-per-view option to access his movies. He says he makes money from two sources now the cinemas and Astro's millions of viewers.

In fact, his competitors who shunned him for being a non-purist cinema man, have followed suit and signed up with Astro First too. In his endearing sales pitch, Two says this distribution strategy is a world first.

He reels off some of his hits Ngangkung (RM8.6mil), Adnan Sempit 2 (RM6.9mil), Bini-Biniku Gangster (RM4.6mil), Alamak Toyol (RM3.6mil), Kongsi (RM8.4mil) and V3 Samseng Jalanan (RM4.3mil).

His latest release has a lovable hero named Senget. Go figure.

His movie Kongsi emblazoned the phrase Lu langsi lu mati into popular culture.

My point? Marketers who can tickle the Malay consumer will win.

Ask David Teo.

> Harmandar Singh is regional CEO of Sledgehammer Communications (M) Sdn Bhd and president of the International Advertising Association's Malaysian chapter.

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