Ad industry short changes itself as local RM50 million box-office hit blazes past


On its first day of release, Polis Evo 3 earned about RM3.4 million at the box office, this number is double what Hollywood movie Fast X earned that day.

Polis Evo 3 raked in RM16million in 4 days at the box office, beating the 2022 record set by Mat Kilau.

It earned RM50mil at the box office in 24 days (and counting), and is now highest-grossing Malaysian movie for the year.

Directed by Syafiq Yusof, the movie sees Inspector Sani (Zizan Razak) and Inspector Khai (Shaheizy Sam) reprising their roles and now includes Inspector Dani (Syafiq Kyle), Inspector Julie (Fara Ali Khan), Inspector Dell (Douglas Lim), ACP Farouk (Fauzi Nawawi), Inspector Faizal (Fezrul Khan)….

Malaysian movies have come into their own and the cinema scene is really hot….but that’s not my point.

In the pages of this magazine, we try to write about hope and opportunity. But alas, this week’s story is about missed opportunities for marketers.

How a Malaysian RM50 million runaway-success movie escaped the attention of leading Malaysian brands keen to be ahead of their competitors is beyond me.

Time to rethink

When I saw Polis Evo 3 creating history, and noticed many brands missed the boat, I felt it was time to get a few things off my chest. Polis Evo 3 was just a sign of the malaise plaguing us.

And I am talking about “the No.1 best-selling action-comedy film in Malaysia of all time”.

Let’s talk about it.

There needs to be an overhaul in the way media decision-makers and brands perceive movies.

I am not even talking about missed opportunities but there’s a general lethargy when it comes to  optimising marketing efforts with local cinema.

It should be very obvious to all by now there is a resurgence of sorts when it comes to Malaysian movies and Malaysians on the global stage of cinema.

Local movie Tiger Stripes won the Grand Prize at the Cannes 62nd International Critics’ Week last month and Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh brought long overdue shine to Malaysia. Long story short, there is much interest in movies.

Are marketers in the dark about this market trend?

The ROI for advertisers and agencies was almost 15X for Polis Evo 3.

Maybe this is the time to learn.

I won’t go into the amazing heroics of SilkyGirl founder Tan Thiam Hock who, together with Yasmin Ahmad’s movies, took his brand to amazing heights stunning all his competitors.

But you get the picture…

Truth hurts

Someone suggested to me media planners are the pain points in this chain.


You see, the In-trays of most media planners are already full of bulk inventory bought at throat-cutting discounts that needs to be “planned-off”. These are mainly for mass media platforms, niche media is at the bottom of the menu. I suspect brand sponsorship opportunities are in the quiet cupboard for “safe-keeping” and can be flashed out to justify that they are there at hand.

The sales literature of most minor media owners suffers the fate of being kept at arms length.

Or in the infamous bottom drawer, or in a folder retired to Archive on the desktop.

I am not diminishing the value of media planners, as it is, they are have already daily headaches wrestling with digital platforms who don’t bend to their will. A subjugation freely applied to other media owners, who’ll bite any bone thrown to them.

Also they are supposed to know everything 24/7, and conveniently slaved onto other big stuff like new business pitches, research, trolling, etc. That’s why you never see the poor sods in real life.

Short of sounding like a broken record, the buck stops at the feet of marketers as they eventually sign off on everything.

And it is everyone’s job to stay on their toes to track pop culture and turn them into opportunities.

“There is no question Malaysia is in the spotlight with Tan Sri Micelle Yeoh’s win on the global stage. I was at Cannes this year, and could sense an Asian Renaissance of sorts for cinema. I know brands operate on Marketing ROI. But we need to abandon some of legacy thinking.

Marketers love to play catch up, but I suggest they take a lead role in local movies successes, as I only see a win-win situation for all.” Datuk Kamil Othman, Chairman National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas), at Cannes 2023.

Brands live off Fame

When you look at any marketing collaboration with movies, it is influencer marketing, branding, ground activation, product testing/launching, experiential and more, all rolled into one. Let’s take a look at what Astro Shaw did with Polis Evo 3… (side confession, those who have listened to my recent audio campaign, will now know where Inspector Sani comes from)…

As at 19 June 2023, Polis Evo3 garnered RM50mn in GBO (Gross Box Office), making it the #1 movie in Malaysia, beating all international movie releases such as FastX. It continued to hold its position as No.1 film ranking across all cinema chains for 3 weeks even when big international movies such as The Little Mermaid and Spiderman were released.

Tayangan Perdana, the first 20 mins of the movie was released as a sampling initiative to Astro’s audience, and also released it simultaneously on as Television (Ria, Prima, Warna & Citra), Radio (era, sinar & THR Gegar) and also Digital (Astro Shaw & Astro Gempak). The video has garnered over 2 million views on YouTube and it became among the top 5 trending videos for 3 weeks together with the official trailer.

The #PolisEvo3 trended three times on Twitter in its first week of theatrical release in cinemas. It also monopolised  the conversation on Google Trends, compared to other film titles that was ongoing at the same time.

#PolisEvo3 garnered a total 284 million views on TikTok and still growing.

The week the film was released, the previous two films Polis Evo 1 and 2 trended on Netflix that made it take the No.1 and No.2 position of Top 10 Movies on Netflix in Malaysia.

Screened in 165 cinemas across Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.

The Official Sound Track, AYUH by Malique – Kmy Kmo, Aman Ra & Ernie Zakri,  made headlines about Ernie’s rapping skill and Malique. The music video trended No.1 on YouTube Music accumulating a total of 2 million views in three weeks.

Partnership with PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds). In conjunction with the premiere of Polis Evo 3, Tencent and Astro Shaw teamed up to bring the action-comedy awesomeness of the Polis Evo series into mobile battle royale shooter title PUBG Mobile.

Astro Shaw collaborated with Sofyank on a video featuring Zizan Razak and Saheizy Sam in their own character. But in the video, Sofyank immersed himself in Polis Evo 3 world and tried to cut the bomb’s wire together with both inspectors. The video accumulated a total of 3 million Views across social media platforms.

Conducted road tours to the East Coast, the North and South drawing massive crowds who came to see the Polis Evo squad. In Johor alone, the event drew 50,000 people.

Local graffiti artist designer, Abdul Rashade, who has worked with brands like Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee, Kumpulan Karangkraf, Rapid KL and more, created a special artwork for Polis Evo 3 in a form of a graffiti mural in the heart of Kuala Lumpur with the support of DBKL. The 1000 square feet mural spun off special merchandise made available to fans so they could own a piece of the great artwork.

Marketing never stops

I spoke to Shah Abd Rahim, Head of Creative Solutions, Commercial Production and Digital Branded Content at Astro about post release opportunities….

“The formula is simple: if you can’t be in the movie, create your own. A perfect example is the Unilever Home Care campaign for Chinese New Year, where we created a light-hearted sequel to a movie called ‘The Journey.

’ We portrayed the endearing dynamics between Uncle Chuan, the father-in-law, who teaches Ben, his foreign son-in-law, about the importance of spring cleaning in Chinese tradition during his first Chinese New Year experience. The response was overwhelming, with over one million organic views and no boosting required. That’s the power of creativity on full display.”

PHC and KFC: Here’s another example where KFC used Project High Council (PHC) characters in a series of short videos on Gempak. Click here.

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