Racheal Lee
Aug 7, 2013

Petronas Raya TVC raises questions about Leo Burnett as pitch decision looms

KUALA LUMPUR - A much-applauded piece of Raya advertising for Petronas in Malaysia has added fuel to speculation over whether the oil and gas company will continue to work with its long-term partner Leo Burnett after the resolution of an ongoing pitch.

Petronas Raya TVC raises questions about Leo Burnett as pitch decision looms

The advertisement, titled 'Jahit' ('Sew'), is proving to be one of the season's most popular Raya adveritsements.

It was created without Leo Burnett's involvement but using director Quek Shio Chuan, the same director Leo Burnett worked with for the brand's 2013 Chinese New Year spot and a 2012 Raya spot. The production house is Reservoir Production. It is understood that a BTL agency was involved, but that the idea came from Quek. DNA Comms was appointed as Petronas’ BTL agency in 2011, while ZenithOptimedia is its media agency.

With the ongoing creative pitch expected to come to an end soon, the decision to work directly with Quek is seen by some as an indication that the brand may move away from Leo Burnett.

Some industry people Campaign Asia-Pacific spoke to, however, said it's possible to read too much into the decision.

"After all, they [Petronas and Leo Burnett] have been working together for long," one source said. "Probably it is a phase where Petronas wants to work with specialist production houses."

If this is the case, it is in line with the actions of other brands. For example, Singapore-based telco SingTel, said it is looking at the possibility of outsouring its production to a production specialist in the latest pitch it called.

Another possibility is that Petronas chose to work directly with the production house simply because the pitch is not yet settled.

Representatives of Leo Burnett declined to comment for this article.

Petronas is famous for producing tear-jerking ads in Malaysia during festive seasons and National Day, mostly directed by former Leo Burnett ECD Yasmin Ahmad until her sudden demise in 2009. Since then, critics have charged that Petronas, or rather Leo Burnett, has failed to maintain the standard of work set in the earlier work.

The situation hit a low point last year when Leo Burnett created “Do the Dappan” for Deepavali. The film was widely derided as not reflecting the spirit of the festival, while some said the three-minute video sent the wrong message to Indian youths and was made with no understanding of the meaning of the “Festival of Light”. Petronas later removed the advertisement.

Nevertheless, the brand managed to save its reputation early this year with the 2013 Chinese New Year spot, “Tau Fu Fah” (the name refers to a Chinese dessert beancurd), which is deemed by many as one of the best festive ads by Petronas in recent years.

Petronas Malaysia called a pitch early this year for its creative business across its Petronas Dagangan, motorsports, lubricants and corporate business. A total of six agencies, including incumbent Leo Burnett, have been shortlisted.

Other shortlisted agencies are M&C Saatchi, Dentsu Utama, Draftfcb, McCann Erickson and Ogilvy & Mather. The result is expected to be announced soon.

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