Watsons clears the air on its controversial Raya ad campaign


By: Malati Siniah

*UPDATE*: We can confirm that the agency behind the ad is Urban Ads, read the full story here.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have probably heard about the Watsons Hari Raya campaign debacle. What was supposed to be a harmless tale of a prince picking the bride of his dreams became a debate on racism, unfair beauty standards and the case of blatant insensitivity.

The 15 minute long “Legenda Cun Raya” ad which launched on Tuesday showed a lady with her face covered in black powder? paste? We later find out that it’s to test the sincerity of the hero in the ad. She later reveals her dewy fair skin and together with her prince charming they skip off happily ever after.

Unfortunately the same could not be said for Watsons….

The retail brand received plenty of backlash from netizens and negative publicity from both local and international media outlets. Following the response, the brand took down all traces of the ad and issued an apology citing that the reasoning behind the lady in black face was to follow the story of a local folklore.

Many questioned the sincerity of Watsons apology. Listening the Malaysian public, late yesterday night the brand launched its #MaafkanWatsons campaign on Facebook.  Watsons also published the following letter personally signed by Caryn Loh, General Manager and Country Head of Watsons Malaysia.


The general sentiments so far has been quite forgiving based on the responses to Watsons apology.

MARKETING understands that Watsons did not work with any creative or digital agency on the ad.

In response to MARKETING on the campaign, a representative from Watsons shared,

“This video was produced by a local production house with 15 years of experience in the production of drama and commercials. The idea of the video was to convey the concepts of inner and outer beauty. Unfortunately, the video instead offended many.”

The representative refused to disclose the name of the production house citing reasons that they did not want to push the blame to one party.

“Watsons Malaysia takes responsibility for the video and its content and is sorry that some elements have offended the general public,” the representative added.

What did you think of Watsons apology? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on MARKETING’s Facebook page.

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