Malaysia is a melting pot of different races, with its many cultures being its beauty and strength. This is something we all know, that is written in our history books, that we’ve been told often enough as to become propaganda almost.

Yet consider how we are represented in the media. Our ads may come in three languages but is our multiculturalism truly represented in the stories we tell?

Festive periods are when brands pull out their big guns, creating touching TVCs, novelty gift packets, step up on the corporate social responsibility and so on.

Its also one of the only times we see people of a variety of races on screen. For example, it is Deepavali, so this whole month we’ve seen lots of ads featuring Indians, supposedly the third largest race in our fair country. There is lots of stuff that we’ve seen before – preparations for celebration, the beauty of cultural elements like dance, dress food and traditions, reminders of desirable values.

However, representations of Indians in traditional advertising, that is the things we see day to day, is conspicuously missing.

Most of the time, there’s nary a trace of the multiculturalism that Malaysia is supposedly famous for.

Prudential built an entire campaign this year around the fact that we Malaysians actually don’t know much about Indian culture. We may have Indian friends and co-workers, we may enjoy Indian food, we may end every sentence with macha, but at the end of the day, there is still much we’re ignorant about.

We believe that brands have a responsibility. The communications that brands put out form the media landscape. The people cast in the videos and prints and campaigns become faces people see every day. The stories we see on our screens every day becomes the stories we tell about ourselves.

Brands can use the power they wield; the influence they have to shine a light on all kinds of different lives.

PETRONAS this year has done something out of the ordinary with their festive ads. For Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Kaamatan & Gawai, Merdeka and Deepavali they have reused the same core cast of 5 children, all of different races, telling quirky stories that resonate with how many Malaysians really live their lives- surrounded and supported and loved by people from a whole spectrum of backgrounds and cultures.

We all come from different cultures, all wonderful in their own ways. Wouldn’t it be great if it became the norm (rather than the exception) to see faces of all colours in our laundry detergent ads, beauty ads, diaper ads, motorcycle ads, air-conditioner ads, property ads and so on? We would love to see a future where the true Malaysia is featured in all its true glory.

The kolam is a symbol of harmonious co-existence, and with our handy guide, everyone can kolam this Deepavali! Check it out on our Facebook page now.

Happy Deepavali from all of us at Gan4Hire!

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How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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