Yasmin Ahmad Making the Forgettable, Unforgettable (PART 1 OF 3)

Yasmin Ahmad Making the Forgettable, Unforgettable (PART 1 OF 3)

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The expressions on the faces featured. Sad, hopeful, eager…oh, were they ever so rich in emotion.

The story. Something you need to follow, every second, every shot, to know what it’s all about.

The simple yet sentimental tune playing in the background, accompanying the story unfolding on the screen.

The grand finale…unexpected, but always brimming with a powerful message of hope.

End of commercial.

If you’re Malaysian or have lived in Malaysia long enough, you’ll probably be familiar with the late Yasmin Ahmad’s many commercials for Petronas, the national oil and gas conglomerate. If you’re a fan, you may even be well-acquainted with her numerous, thought-provoking films.


The late Yasmin Ahmad (1958 – 2009) was a legend, because it was evident from her features and featurettes that she wasn’t interested in peddling a product or service, right in your face.

She was – and remains – a legend, because she knew that the way to create memorable ads and features, was to appeal to the very thing that makes us human: Our feelings.

Consciously or subconsciously, you may acknowledge that there’s nothing really spectacular about Yasmin’s features. But what was really spectacular, was how she took the ordinary, mundane and overlooked, and conveyed her message in an unforgettable manner.

Put simply, where even commercials were concerned, she sold the BRAND, not the product or service.

Advertising & Marketing: Does Hard-Sell Always Sell?

Admittedly, it’s easy, direct and in-your-face. “Buy my product/service…bla bla bla bla.”

And then on we move to the next commercial, and your hard-sell featurette is quickly forgotten; lost amidst the ocean of endless commercials vying for buyers’ attention.

That’s advertising for you – a form of communication used to persuade or influence potential customers to do or buy something. It’s a huge industry. In Malaysia alone, Nielsen’s reported that for the period from 2007 to 2012, the advertising industry was estimated to be worth more than RM6 billion, with newspapers having the biggest share (56.1%), TV (32.9%), radio (4.4%), magazines (3.0%), outdoor (2.0%), POS (1.1%) and cinema (0.5%).

Unfortunately, advertising is still viewed in Malaysia by most companies – and entrepreneurs – as an ‘EXPENSE’, as opposed to an ‘INVESTMENT’.

So, what’s your view on advertising, so far?

Now, enter `Marketing’

Often confused with advertising, marketing is the process of communicating the value of your product or service to customers, with the intention of selling it to them. Remember; advertising’s the FORM of communication, while marketing’s the PROCESS of communication.

Both advertising and marketing are distinct from – yet complement – each other, when you wish to sell your product and more importantly, BUILD YOUR BRAND.

And no, more often than not, brand-building has nothing to do with hard-selling your product or service!


So, how do advertising and marketing contribute towards brand-building? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this feature, in next month’s E-News edition!