Gabey Goh
Aug 11, 2016

Nat Geo opens doors to Peranakan lives

The channel and Isobar Malaysia open doors to cultural understanding with campaign supporting documentary series.

Nat Geo opens doors to Peranakan lives

National Geographic Channel (Nat Geo) has launched a new campaign to create awareness for “A Peranakan Heritage”, a series of locally produced and curated documentaries.

The documentaries, which began airing on 27 July, give an exclusive glimpse into Peranakan history and heritage through the eyes of Julian Davison, Gok Wan and Sherman Ong.

It marks the first phase of a two-part programme by Nat Geo, which will feature a separate series of locally produced documentaries about Malaysia that will be revealed in late August this year. 

To help raise awareness, Isobar Malaysia is creating a series of ‘doors’ as part of an on-ground activation campaign that invites people to engage with the Peranakan heritage. The exhibition will be unveiled to the public beginning 25 August for a month at a well-known Malaysian landmark. 

The campaign also features a microsite developed by Isobar, which offers viewers a chance to test their Peranakan knowledge through a fun, interactive game. Winners stand a chance to win a bespoke, curated tour of Malacca, including visiting the key locations and food eateries featured in the ‘A Peranakan Heritage’ programme.

The campaign microsite is being promoted through digital media buys via Facebook and Google Display Network, and via PR following the series’ official launch.

In developing the game, the Isobar and Nat Geo teams visited historical places where the Peranakan items and culture were being preserved, taking note of its background, history and importance. One such place was the Pinang Peranakan Mansion in Penang. 

Simeon Dawes, MD, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia & the Middle East, Fox Networks Group:

The National Geographic brand is renowned for telling hidden stories in a visually compelling, yet authentic manner. Culture conservation and immersive learning is core to Nat Geo’s ethos and through this programme, we hope more people are exposed to the hidden vestiges of this culture.

SanYen Liew, ECD at Isobar Malaysia:

In line with the documentaries that were being aired on Nat Geo, we wanted to share a tangible piece of the rich Peranakan history and culture, and so we decided on this campaign that enables people from all walks of life to explore and get a closer look at the lives of the Baba Nyonyas, Chittys and Seranis (or Eurasians). As not everyone would have been able to come and visit the on-ground activations, we felt the microsite and game could showcase the interesting Peranakan factoids and let audiences immerse themselves in the culture.

Campaign Asia-Pacific’s view: This digital and on-ground activation campaign to promote Nat Geo’s new documentary series looks good at first glance but somehow feels a little lightweight.

The ‘doors’ installation certainly looks intriguing, but one wonders if more could have been done with the concept apart from being a themed and informative display cabinet. The microsite too, while beautifully designed, seems lacking in substance. The game was fun, but with low replay value, although that wouldn't deter users keen to win a bespoke tour of Malacca.

That being said, it is still the first phase of execution, so one hopes that there’s more to come and more to reveal behind those ‘closed’ doors.


Isobar Malaysia
Executive creative director: Liew San Yen
Creative group head: Celestine Lau
Art director: Lim Kean Woei
Copywriter: Gary Hor
Designer: Sean Liew
Technical lead: Jonathan Ong
Project director: Elwin Tan
Associate account director: Clarence Lee
Account executive: Sarah Lim

FOX Networks Group
Marketing director: Penny Tan
Marketing manager: Yip Yi Ling

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