They’ve found the people behind it all.
Marketing agency Rapp Kuala Lumpur is said to be the agency behind controversial print election ads for a political party, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). The MCA is part of Malaysia’s ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (National Alliance), and is a majority share-holder in national English daily The Star, which has been running the print ads.
According to multiple sources who requested anonymity, the agency that created the ads is Rapp Kuala Lumpur. Campaign Asia-Pacific tried to reach out to Lim Wai Yee (COO at Rapp KL), via email and mobile, but no reply was received by press time.
Like The Star, Rapp KL links back to the MCA as it is part of the Foetus Group in Malaysia, which also includes Naga DDB, DDB International, Milk PR, Beyond Events, and Vizeum Media Services. Foetus Group’s executive chairman is Vincent Lee, who is also chairman of The Star.
The ads have drawn the ire of Malaysia’s online community for the insinuations it makes about MCA’s rival, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and its ties to the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). DAP decided to stand for election under the banner of PAS in Peninsular Malaysia after the Registrar of Societies announced on 18th April that it would no longer recognise DAP.
The ads not only remind Malaysians of this unexpected turn of events, but they have also been criticised for inciting Islamaphobia in Malaysia’s non-Muslim constituency by portraying PAS as an extremist Muslim organisation. The ads close with the slogan “A Vote for DAP is a vote for PAS” and urge Malaysians to vote for current PM Najib Razak, who represents the ruling coalition, and “stability and prosperity”.
One ad in particular, which ran Sunday, a day after nomination day, has been shared on Facebook more than 1,300 times with posters condemning the move as “childish”, “disgusting”, and “the act of scum”.
One industry veteran told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the agency which created the ad “crossed a line”, while another said that the ads were “not only annoying but people are furious”.
The Malaysian government dissolved the parliament earlier this month to pave way for the country’s 13th general election, which is said to be the toughest battle that the ruling coalition has ever had to face in its 56 years in power.