Matthew Miller
Aug 14, 2019

RHB Bank asks Malaysia to 'See beyond colour'

In an ad released for the country's national day, FCB KL vividly shows the drawbacks of stereotyping and tribalism.

Our story is set in a world that is divided by social classes, lines drawn by societal expectations, unfounded judgements made from first impressions and different sides created by conflicting opinions.

That's the description Ong Shi Ping, co-owner and chief creative officer of FCB Kuala Lumpur, gives for the agency's newest work for RHB Bank. It may sound grim, but the video ultimately communicates a positive message about how individual citizens can resist such divisions. 

'See beyond colours', which references the country's August 31 national day, has garnered nearly 250,000 views and a high number of mainly positive comments on Facebook since its release yesterday. 

The work falls under the bank's 'Together we progress' brand platform, which has in recent months yielded stories about a heroic teacher (May)the meaning of progress (March), and a well-known esports star (January). In comparison to those efforts, the new film treads into somewhat riskier territory by touching on—and starkly visualising—racial, ethnic and religious tensions. 

"This story has always been part of our society’s narrative both good and bad," Shaun Tay, co-owner and CEO of FCB KL, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. The agency and brand chose to address the issue now because it’s "starting to get a bit out of hand", he added. "We are making judgement calls based on what we see instead of what we really understand. I think its apt to use our national day celebrations as time for some self-reflection, to take a step back and really think about how we can understand those around us better." 

Added Ong, "It is not our diverse society that divides us. In fact, it’s our diversity that makes us Malaysian."

The creative idea sprang from the world of sport. "It was difficult to show these different groups of people without going into a long-winded backstory," Ong said. "We needed to find a quicker way. In any sport, opposing teams wear different color jerseys. We thought, it’ll be very intriguing and compelling if we use colors to represent people standing on opposite sides. Tension begins to build from the isolation and segregation. But when the colors are stripped off, the same happens to the tension."

L-R: Shaun Tay, Ong Shi Ping
 

By using colors, the agency "consciously steered away from racial divide, which was never the intention of the film anyway," Ong said. "It is far from controversial. If anything, it’s a wake-up call for Malaysians to look at ourselves and not be judgmental."

The agency put in "a bit of extra effort" during the planning phase to ensure that certain demographics were not misrepresented negatively, Ong said. Tay praised the client for being as invested in the work as the agency, and for its "great belief and respect for creativity".

CREDITS

RHB Bank
Group Chief Marketing Officer: Abdul Sani Abdul Murad
Head, Group Brand Communications: Tunku Hazli Bin Tunku Tolha
Senior Manager, Digital Brand Management: Elaine Yap
Assistant Manager, Group Brand Communications: Mohd Anwar Bin Mohd. Amin

FCB Kuala Lumpur
Co-owner & Chief Executive Officer: Shaun Tay
Co-owner & Chief Creative Officer: Ong Shi Ping
Head of Account Management: Sharon Rodrigues
Creative Group Head: Tjer
Senior Art Director: James Voon
Copywriters: Izham Fazely, Felice Puah
Senior Producer : Wira Chon

Production house
KDCO
Film Director: Rewan Ishak

Audio production 
GT Records

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