How Milo became the catalyst to sports development

The clarion call for sports in our country is “Malaysia Boleh” which, in a way, is synonymous with “Milo Boleh”.

And Milo, a fortified food drink from Nestle, has certainly made its mark in Malaysian sport. Probably most of us have gingerly lined up for the drink from a van or a container during our school’s sports day. And how we almost died of thirst when we don’t see the green-coloured van.

And Milo is certainly Nestle’s success story as it has transcended all boundaries to become a household name synonymous with children and sports in Malaysia.

Today, Nestle, a leading specialist in nutrition, health and wellness products, will be celebrating their 100th anniversary, a milestone which few companies in Malaysia can reach.

In retrospect, there’s always the Milo presence in any sports in our country. And then came the “Malaysia Boleh” slogan which was formulated by Milo in 1992.

It was coined after a brain-storming session between former Nestle sports marketing manager Datuk Dina Rizal and the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).

Dina, who has been with the company for 30 years and who retired in 2003, fondly said reminiscently: “In 1992, former Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah asked us to look at ways to encourage and support the Malaysian athletes during overseas competitions like the SEA Games. So after a brain-storming session, we came up with several slogans.

“At the end we selected “Malaysia Boleh”. It was to be launched for the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore. It involved getting signatures and messages of support from people of all walks of life – from the King to the common people. It proved to be a massive success with more than 1.5 million signatures collected.

“In 1998, for the Commonwealth Games which was held here in Kuala Lumpur, we managed to get a record five million people involved. I am sure it is still in the Guinness Book of Records.”

Schools, districts, states and even national level sports have Milo either as sponsors or partners in their development programmes. Many of today’s top athletes like bowler Shalin Zulkifli, world squash champion Datuk Nicol David and Ong Beng Hee and the swimming contingent have taken part in Milo events before bursting into the national scene.

So, what has made Nestle’s Milo such a popular brand and how did they reach out to the masses, especially the kids?

It was first introduced in 1950 and their early catch phrase was “It’s Marvellous What MILO Can Do For You” and then it evolved into “MILO Brings Out The Champion In You” in 2000. Currently, it is just two words – “Go Further” .

They have certainly gone further to walk the talk in helping, motivating and supporting sports in our country.

Ng Ping Loong, who took over from Dina, said that the success of the brand is also due to the policy in helping kids develop their skills in sports. Nestle’s commitment to the brand has never wavered and the policy to play a part in the development of sports is an ongoing process.

“We also believe that sports is a great way to bring people together and that there is a champion in every kid. The question is finding it and nurturing them to become one,” said Ping Loong.

Ping Loong said the hard work in promoting the Milo events has paid off.

“We are into almost all the development programmes in sports. And we plan to continue doing so. Nestle has a long-term interest and its 100 years in Malaysia is proof that we plan to stay much longer” he added.

Ping Loong wishes to invite readers to celebrate the 100th anniversary at Dataran Merdeka from 2pm to 10pm.

OCM secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi, who has dealt with Milo over 40 years, said there is no question about Milo’s ability to sustain their partnership in sports.

“I was the secretary of the Selangor Swimming Association in 1971 when I first dealt with them.

“And until today, we find that Milo has remain faithful to the sports development programmes.”

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