Production House Urban Ads behind Watsons Raya Ad


By: Malati Siniah

MARKETING understands that local production house Urban Ads is behind Watsons’ controversial Raya Ad which featured an actress wearing ‘blackface’.

Earlier today MARKETING broke the news that Watsons did not use any creative agencies in the creation of the ad and according to the company the ad was produced by ‘a local production house with 15 years of experience in the production of drama and commercials’.

Speaking to MARKETING, Khoo Kay Lye who is the President of the Malaysian Association of Advertising Filmmakers (PPFIM) shared that he was called in during the Watsons commercial shoot when the production house failed to comply with the stipulated hours set by FINAS to shoot the commercial.

“The shoot carried on till late which we were not happy about. Urban Ads is not a PPIFM member, however as the body protecting the people within this industry we had to step in,” Khoo shared.

Although Khoo did not think Watsons’ ad was controversial, he did feel that there needs to be a governing body which screens online ads.

“Right now The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) has a hand in screening ads which go on TV but who makes the call when something goes out online? Regardless of the platform, the message that is conveyed can influence the public, and I think there needs to be dialogue on how we can control these viral videos,” he warned.

He shared that PPFIM is ready for a dialogue with FINAS on this issue and come up with a solution to solve this problem and raise and regulate the standards in the industry.

“I understand the story Watsons is trying to tell with its ad, I think the situation could have been averted if they had produced a short film before the ad, explaining the background of Dayang Senandong,” Khoo observes.

Watsons drew controversy this week when it released an ad as part of its “Legenda Cun Raya” Hari Raya Campaign. The 15-minute long ad showed a scene of a famous local actress in ‘blackface’ which drew negative publicity from both local and international media outlets and netizens.

The brand later clarified that it was not their intention to offend and that the controversial scene was based on local folklore Dayang Senandong which tells the tale of a young lady who was cursed with a black complexion.

The story of Dayang Senandong had been made into a black and white movie in 1965. The film produced by Vee Meng Shaw and directed by Jamil Sulong can be viewed here.

MARKETING is still trying to get in touch with Urban Ads, a quick search on the company online reveals that is it a ‘Fashion House, Advertising Agency and Production house’ established in 2002.

Conversations with several local industry figures, including production houses, did not shed any light on the company.

MARKETING, however, will be paying a visit to Urban Ad’s office as its located a stone’s throw away from our office in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI).

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