The Kucing Happy story

Edward Ong is on a quest to discover and create Malaysia’s best ideas. He is an award-winning Writer and Creative Director and can be found at

BSN (Bank Simpanan Nasional) is probably the last client you’d expect to win a Kancil Award, let alone the Grand Prix. But in 2015, not only did BSN’s Kucing Happy sweep the lion’s share of the local creative awards, it also took home top prizes at the Effies. We talk to Adam Miranda, Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director of Fishermen, to get the backstory on how it all happened.
BSN was born in 1974. They wanted to connect with young people – most of whom thought the bank was old-fashioned and out-of-date. Or worse, that BSN stood for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This imagery affected their marketing activities for savings, credit cards and loans.
With the bank’s 40th anniversary around the corner, it was an opportune time to connect with this generation. Since their audience were internet and social media savvy, it was decided that the campaign should run online. However, if people didn’t care much for the brand – would throwing a party for your 40th birthday make a difference?
On a superficial level, people like receiving gifts.
On a deeper level, Malaysians have a connection with revered institutions. And BSN was one such. “We like our institutions,” says Adam. “I think most of us want to have a relationship with these organizations. The key is changing the way we speak to consumers.”
To celebrate BSN’s 40th birthday, customers get the presents. The agency persuaded the client to ‘appoint’ a Chief Happiness Officer to distribute these gifts.
But who was going to be this ‘Chief Happiness Officer’? How about BSN’s CEO? Maybe a celebrity? After numerous back and forths, the team settled on a cat. It was a social media campaign after all, and the internet’s official animal seemed like a good spokesperson.
Kucing Happy (Happy Cat) was born. In developing his character, the writers gave him a sort of troll-ish personality, and he would never actually grant any wish. For example, if someone wanted a car, Kucing Happy would interpret that person needing something else, like a keychain. Troll cat would be simultaneously mean and likable.
A social media campaign was launched, asking users, “What can BSN do to make you happy?” Based on the response, the first episode was then scripted and recorded. Everything was ready to be uploaded.
Mentally, Adam was pacing the floor. He wasn’t convinced the creatives had ‘cracked’ it. “I thought there were only two possible outcomes,” recalls Adam. “One, people would actually find it funny. Two, it’s so bad, we’ll have to hide in the mountains for a few years.”
Happily, the internet took to BSN and Kucing Happy like never before. After the first episode was aired, more people sent in their wishes. Somebody at Fishermen presumably did the same. Either way, the agency was granted five fully-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, non-stop brainstorming weeks of producing weekly videos for BSN’s new CFO (Chief Feline Officer). Thankfully, no animals were harmed in the making. The rest, as they say, is history.
This article first appeared in MARKETING magazine issue 219. You can view the online version of the magazine here 

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