They say a bad ad does more harm than good. But that message seems to be lost on RAPP KL, the international agency behind the ‘kick-ass’ MCA ads that attacks the opposition in The Star.
The public backlash in social media had respondents fuming mad citing them as malicious.
One ad which reads, “A vote for DAP is a vote for PAS” had a leading journalist respond, “A vote for BN can also be a vote for Perkasa.”
Everything seems to be going wrong with the campaign.
The ads that ran on Sunday appear to have been written before the DAP was allowed to use their Rocket symbol, but it was too late to change the ads. Hence the ad where the Rocket morphs into a PAS symbol draws further confusion.
A regional advertising industry publisher got into the fray today saying: “Like The Star, ad agency RAPP KL links back to MCA as it is part of the Foetus Group, which also includes Naga DDB, Milk PR, Beyond Events and Vizeum Media Services.”
Foetus Group Chairman is Vincent Lee, who is also Executive Deputy Chairman of Star Publications (M) Bhd. Sadly, the finger points directly to Lee.
In other words, MCA = The Star.
The Malaysian Code of Advertising (2008) states: No advertisement should contain statements or suggestions which may offend the religious, political, sentimental or racial susceptibilities of any community.
But Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) Malaysia President Johnny Mun told The Malaysian Insider, “The Code only applies to product advertising generally and does not govern political advertisements.”
This throws every argument in the book out of whack because a past 4As President told AdBuster, “The Code applies to all ads.”
Does this mean the current 4As President is under pressure from another ex 4As President, Vincent Lee himself, who served two full terms in office.
Is it any wonder why no journalist has bothered to ask chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority Malaysia (ASAM), Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir for his opinion? He is known to be ’friendly’ to The Star.
AdBuster also has inside information that the people writing the ads had their hands forced. They have been bombarded in social media and SMSes making them the latest black sheep of the industry.
“BN has spent over RM160 million in advertising expenditure (adex) in the first three months this year using a block buster strategy, making them three times bigger than the next biggest spender,” says leading media guru Bala Pomaleh, CEO of Carat Media Malaysia in avideo today.
In March alone, the PM’s Office spent at least RM73 million on ads according to Nielsen Media Research. This clearly makes it the most expensive general election ever in terms of adex.
“In comparison, a leading telco or FMMC marketers would normally spend this kind of money in one whole calendar year!” adds advertising strategist Kapil Sethi.
On a macro scale, has The Star reached its tipping point?
Are its competitors smelling blood and an opportunity to knock The Star of its leadership pedestal with this recent bashing by its own readers?
Suddenly, many competitors of The Star seem to be coming out of hiding. All this is showing up a new reality: that quite a few people do not like The Star for many varied reasons. Have they now found a final reason to nail it for good?
Besides peddling racial fear against Pakatan Rakyat (PR) the campaign could backfire in the May 5 general election. But it seems they are dead bent on sticking to their strategy despite the writing on the wall. This sort of cocksure aloofness is what may sound the death knell for The Star. They have gambled their readers away for the sake of MCA.
In another development, The Malay Mail (which is the only English daily, apart from theSun, accepting ads from Opposition parties) has gained readership inroads with a bigger print run of 200,000 copies a day since Nomination Day. Their new Cover Page has also caught on very well.
The Star’s radio arm has also not been spared. Their recently rebranded Red FM drew flak from its listeners for airing political ads on its airwaves which portrays the Opposition coalition in bad light. A Facebook page called ‘We Fully Boycott Red.FM’ is currently gaining traction.
But the latest salvo is in the form of an online petition that has gathered a perfect storm with over 800 signatures in just one day alone.
This entire drama is unfolding by the hour, so stay tuned ….