MAS brings unity to new heights


  • Business
  • Saturday, 11 Feb 2017

MAS latest Chinese New Year video 2017 which shows non-Chinese Malaysian conveying greetings in various Chinese dialects

M&C Saatchi says the airline’s CNY video has garnered praise all around

THE phrase “we did not put talents on the camera but rather Malaysians on camera” by the late Yasmin Ahmad does hold water, This can be seen in the recent online Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Chinese New Year (CNY) video campaign which shows how ordinary non-Chinese Malaysian people conveying greetings in different Chinese dialects have garnered praises and captured the hearts of millions.

The highly-acclaimed yet low-budget video is still hot on many people’s lips since it made its debut on the social media. Unlike other videos that depict a festivity of a certain race or religion, this video is different.

M&C Saatchi Malaysia creative director Darren Lee says the people in the video are non-Chinese Malaysians who have never acted before but they have been able to captivate Malaysians from all walks of life. Netizens, locals and even foreigners, have praised the campaign and many agreed that the video is a reflection of the various cultures in Malaysia and that unity and respect among the different races is still very much alive in the country.

The video, which is less than two minutes in duration, took two weeks to complete and the talents were recruited via social media without many rehearsals. “It goes to show that language and culture are no barrier to being a Malaysian. Language plays a part and can unify Malaysians irrespective of race or religion. It helps us see beyond cultural boundaries and find shared humanity as Malaysians.

“The actors, none of whom are professional, are genuinely fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien. Malaysia has always been proud of its diversity but the idea was to show how we embrace this difference whilst celebrating the various festivities together as Malaysians,” Lee tells StarBizWeek.

On whether there were challenges or hiccups in the making of the video, he says the agency has, to an extent, feared that it could steer a racial backlash. But after talking to our client, Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), which assured this will not happen as the brand itself champions Malaysian culture, there was no turning back for M&C Saatchi and MAB which collaborated without fear or favour to ensure its success.

Since it was first posted on the Malaysia Airlines Facebook page on Jan 25, the response has been staggering with 69,000 likes and 22,000 shares and a combined 4.4 million views on Facebook and YouTube. Comments have been encouraging, with more than two thousand to-date, commending the airline for its very simple but poignant message, which is testimony to the richness of Malaysia.

Lee was surprised by the huge number of non-Chinese who were very keen to participate in the video but due to the limited time allocation, the agency had to short-list their picks.

The agency also featured two MAB staff towards the end of the video Azlin Adam and Mohd Fairuz Mohd Noor. There were many other non-Chinese employees who also spoke Chinese but they could not participate in the video due to work commitments.

One of the many memorable events in the making of the video was that of a Malay Malaysia Airlines flight stewardess whom he recalled was taking down notes in Mandarin when the script was narrated to her. “What surprised me was that she has a twin sister who also is fluent in Mandarin and her husband, who is a Malay and a former flight steward, is also fluent in the language. To see all this taking place in front of your very eyes is really amazing. It shows that the power of language has the ability to bring unity among Malaysians,” he notes.

On whether there will be more MAS videos during festivities on cultural themes, the agency’s general manager Lee Poh Li says there are plans to roll out videos that reflects the genuineness of the Malaysian tradition and culture. She says that having videos that unite the people based on culture shows that MAS is a progressive brand and so are Malaysians.

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