As nations celebrate and cheer on their homeland players at the World Cup, Malaysia is inspired by its glory days through Maxis’ new advertising campaign which hopefully will spark a new era of football eminence for the country.
Today's Malaysia is a generation of western idolaters. So many are looking to their American and UK counterparts for inspiration forgetting how great we really are ourselves. It’s very rare to hear a youngster quote a local poet, or adore a local hero. Perhaps today’s generation do not have many to look up to as the ones at the top have not been very exemplary. However, this was not Malaysia 30 years ago.
Ask anyone from a generation before and they would tell you stories of locals who were way beyond their time or their peers. In almost every industry there was a shining beacon of hope, who would push for the glory of the nation. Who can forget the artiste Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr. P. Ramlee, The Alley Cats, Hail Amir and Uji Rashid, AR Badul and footballer Mokhtar Dahari. These are names that even the young appreciate but due to a lack of sentimental ties, these personalities have been easily forgotten.
Lately, there has been a return of great Malaysian figures, specifically from the football circle. In conjunction with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Maxis has brought back former Malaysian football heroes who raised Malaysia’s standings in the international arena as one of the best football teams, we’re not talking South East Asia but, in the whole of Asia. Those were days when race and religion were second to national spirit and homeland pride.
It was a time when working together for a greater cause than one’s self was of prime importance and when Malaysia put its best foot forward without discrimination. Everyone felt Malaysian first above all other identities. It was a time when everyone stood on a level playing field and the best were selected because they were just too good to be ignored. It is a time that Malaysians miss and yearn for again.
The latest Maxis ‘Football Legends’ campaign has brought us just a little closer to that dream, to those days of unity in diversity and burning national pride. The campaign takes a look at four national football players who were key players during the 1980s. It is a story of commitment to the game and to do the nation proud that earned them a 2-1 win against Korea in the 1980 Olympic qualification match spurring them on to the Olympics. The heroic stories of Dato’ Soh Chin Aun, James Wong, Hassan Sani and Santokh Singh are retold across the nation.
Reliving the glory days
The World Cup is a season when people put their lives on hold by perhaps quitting their jobs to catch every single second of the action. That is the level of interest and passion Malaysians have for the sport. Maxis is no different, dedicating more than a month of its brand image to celebrate the game, in particular Malaysia’s football legends.
Sandip Das, CEO, Maxis Berhad says, “The World Cup comes only once in four years. I understand that Malaysian youths are absolutely crazy about football.
When we launched our mobile broadcast sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Maxis created a wonderful campaign which revolved around the glory days of Malaysian football. We invited Malaysia’s football legends to be our brand ambassadors and it was amazing to see how both people of that generation and younger people actually had tears in their eyes when they saw the results of the campaign. Malaysians were able to relive the glory of that magical moment when Malaysia beat South Korea to gain entry into the 1980 Moscow Olympics. It was such a wonderful moment for the country.
We are glad that our campaign shows our commitment to the game and our sentiments to the people. We brought a campaign where we showed little kids playing in a ‘kampung’. I think this is an example of the finest advertising I’ve seen in a long time. Within all of us there is a patriotic feeling. I think Maxis used it very well with football where we connected with the people. But it is not just about the sponsorship, it is also about the fact that we will provide enriched content. I think Maxis has a unique opportunity in this World Cup to showcase our mobile integrated communications content. We have developed a lot of special and rich content for this exciting global event.”
Maxis wanted to take people back to the glory years, and remind them that Malaysia is not just a country that watches football.“Part of Maxis’ commitment to the game of football, is in celebrating its timeless heroes who have helped to make football what it means to Malaysians. We wanted the campaign to tell the stories of some of Malaysia’s greatest players, on the theme of how unwavering commitment leading to great achievements,” says Denise Tambuatco, Maxis’ Head of Brand.
She adds, “Malaysians play football, and once we were great. If these stories tell us anything, they show that with dreams, and commitment, we never know what might be possible. At Maxis, we are passionate about what we do, we are passionate about our customers and as passionate as them about football. All of this is communicated through our TVCs; about a dream which never dies.”
The ‘Football Legends’ campaign has been well received by the public with young and old being inspired by the achievements of Malaysia in the past and the potential we hold for the future. The names of Malaysia’s football legends have been making its round with every generation and seems to be popping up in every conversation.
It is because of the foresight of Maxis and their team that they were able to recognise a uniting point for Malaysians and many are thankful for this initiative including the legends themselves. Maxis chose the legends because they represented Malaysian football at its glorious best and because the values that these four players embody reflects the very same values Maxis thrives on.
More than just revisiting moments that we have allowed slip through our fingers, it really is about igniting a spirit of nationalistic commitment. A spirit that has driven Maxis’ success especially as they strive to deliver the best content during the World Cup. “The football legends represent an era of excellence in Malaysian football. Their performance was achieved through determination, hard work and belief in what can be possible. These values are what we recognise and imbibe in Maxis. Who would have believed that the World Cup can now be enjoyed on all screens - TV, computer and mobile phone? That is what technological advancement does, it converts the impossible to reality,” says Denise.
Some have criticised the initiative as an effort that does not resound with the younger generation and another sad attempt at basking in the past, but the underlying purpose aims to reach a higher objective. The phrase, ‘You have to know where you have been to know where you are going’ rings true.
Maxis has definitely hit a sweet note with its customers as Maxis brings back sweet memories and hope to Malaysians. Denise shares, “The impact of the advertising has also surprised us. Most of the youth today do not even know about the Fabulous 4. Their reactions vary from ‘I did not know we beat Korea?’, ‘I did not know we qualified for the Olympics?’ to ‘Wow! It has ignited feelings of national pride in me’.”
The Creative Story
So how did this campaign come to life?
As explained by Gavin Simpson, Group Executive Creative Director of Ogilvy Malaysia, the credit goes to the teamwork between Maxis and the agency. “The whole process would not have been possible without the full support of a great client.” As Gavin explains, Maxis threw its full support behind the production, with the mutual aim of making the best films possible. “This was no ordinary production. In total we shot seven films, across two continents, all in the same month. We flew to London and Barcelona to shoot Maxis football icons, Frank Lampard and Lionel Messi and were then grounded in the UK by volcanic ash from Iceland. Not to be deterred, we rushed back to Malaysia to capture our four local legends in a flying tour of the country from Labuan to Melaka, including a nine-hour delay at Labuan airport.”
Of course resurrecting an event that took place over 20 years ago was no easy task. Recollecting the memories and sifting through archives of years of newspaper clippings, video and audio recordings offered a fair share of challenges but was definitely outweighed by the priceless outcome.
“When we first presented the idea, we didn’t even have footage of the match. We just had memories, and the will to get it done. More than half the work on this project was finding material. We had art directors parked in the offices of New Straits Times sifting through page after page of archived photography. We had RTM helping us source old match footage. We even asked the players themselves, and the families of players for any photos or videos they still had of that period,” narrated Gavin.
The inspiration for the campaign came from the local enthusiasm for football. Maxis knows what football means to this country. Every year it sponsors the BPL. Every four years it has also sponsored the World Cup, and this year Maxis developed a range of new products and services to let fans experience the tournament like never before.
Jean-Pascal van Overbeke, Maxis’ Chief Operating Officer explains that Maxis is committed to delivering every single match to their customers so they will know of every goal the minute it happens and that they will experience the biggest event on the planet like never before. “Maxis is pleased to be able to deliver another thrilling series of coverage of the most illustrious football title, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, to homes on television and to mobile and broadband devices.”
He adds, “Maxis’ broadcast sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup supports our aspiration of being the biggest converged company and content player in the country. We have invested significantly in terms of sponsorship and technology to deliver an unprecedented 2010 FIFA World Cup experience to Malaysians. Our investment of RM1.2 billion in 2009 to upgrade and modernise our network enables seamless delivery of quality content to our customers. With the sponsorship deal, Maxis has the exclusive right to deliver live coverage of all 64 matches and all related contents to customers in Malaysia from 11 June till 11 July 2010.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH THE FABULOUS FOUR
Cherishing our legacy, from left: Dato’ Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, James Wong and Hassan Sani
Why did you agree to participate in Maxis’ FIFA World Cup campaign?
Santokh Singh: For me, the campaign brings back old memories of when I was with the Malaysian football team and Maxis has made it possible for me to share my experience with Malaysians young and old.
James Wong: The initiative helped unite a part of our football team. The four of us have not met for almost 20 years.
Hassan Sani: I think this is a meaningful initiative by Maxis.
What memories has the campaign evoked?
Santokh Singh: The campaign reminds me of what it was like 30 years ago during the 1980 Olympics qualifying match. The team experience and the support from the crowd are re-lived through the TVCs.
James Wong: This experience feels like we’re re-living our football days 30 years ago. The most nostalgic for me is when I scored the goal at the Olympic qualifying match. It brings back the emotions of that time which is, the glory we all felt together. It was all about team spirit.
Hassan Sani: A meaningful memory it brought back is of when I was shortlisted to join the team. I was so excited even to just be shortlisted, and when I made it on the team I always played my best on the field. I still remember how my mind was full focused every time we played a game.
What is your hope for national football?
Santokh Singh: My hope is that more people will enjoy this great sport.
James Wong: I hope the national team will do well and bring back Malaysia’s glory days.
Hassan Sani: I hope the national team will do well.
Bringing the global games to local grounds
Though many of us are enthusiastic about the World Cup, it does seem so “far” from us here in Malaysia, and I’m not talking distance. Watching foreign players strut their skills in South Africa makes us wonder if our Malaysian team will ever be able to play on such a level. Will we ever be able to live the World Cup dream?
Maxis’ ‘Football Legends’ campaign acts as a bridge between that lofty dream and our current reality. Localising the World Cup story for Malaysians helps us to share in the experience of this international event. Influential American trendspotter Faith Popcorn dubbed 2010 the Year of Lo-Co, or Local Cocooning, because an ‘anti-big’ movement sees us searching for safer havens.
The US is seeing a much higher localisation trend than Malaysia. Popcorn reports US Major League Baseball saw its sales down 6.6 percent last year while 43 million people attended Minor League games, setting the sixth attendance record in a row. And in education, enrollment at community colleges has been up ten percent per year since 2000, even as enrollment at four-year colleges is flat, and President Obama recently allocated $12 billion to improve the system.
It’s clear that local is redefining the way we relate to the world. Marketers would be wise to pay attention, and the smartest ones already are as we can see happening on our own shores. They know that reaching out to small, targeted groups of people is far more effective than carpet-bombing the world with ads.
Recently, Gatorade took a local spin on football, tapping into local sentiment for its ‘There Is No Small Game’ campaign last fall. Created by CLM BBDO Paris and launching first in Mexico and then across Latin America, the campaign spotlighted local amateur football players rather than well-known national ones. It gave an existing amateur team professional equipment, a website and a PR campaign, and it encouraged users to vote on their favourite players, who became brand ambassadors.
So what will be the future of Malaysian football? I guess we’ll just have to keep our finger crossed but for now we can be sure to catch the matches on our mobile.
The ‘Football Legend’s’ campaign is being implemented
across billboards, print, television commercials, web and mobile.
Here’s how each platform is used to bring the campaign to life:
Print and billboard advertisements show black and white pictures of the victorious fabulous four and field shots from their matches.
The website has two critical functions. Firstly it is the place to go if you want the full range of all Maxis products and services available. You can get content from the 2010 FIFA World Cup including SMS trivia alerts, find out where the nearest live match venue is, and for all those who are suffering from World Cup sleep deprivation, you can watch full match replays and highlights. The website also gets people actively involved in the campaign, giving them a forum to voice their commitment to the game. Maxis is currently on the hunt for Malaysia’s most passionate fans. If you think you’re it or want to check out the competition, head to the Maxis website at http://www.maxis.com.my/FIFAworldcup/entries.asp
The television commercials feature original commentary from the 1980 match in which Malaysia defeated South Korea 2-1 to qualify for the Olympic games. Other than the clip showing the famous Hassan Sani run and James Wong goal, there are four videos featuring each legend and their stories of dedication to the game. They, like Maxis, are committed to teamwork which leads to moments of glory for the nation and which then become an unforgettable part of their lives.
Thanks to your Maxis mobile, this is the first World Cup where you really can catch every moment. You can actually watch live games on your Maxis mobile, and get replays and highlights. It means people can immerse themselves in World Cup fever like never before. It’s always on, and always with you.