image credit: The Star Online
Who says Mondays have to be blue? I’m starting my Monday on a high note because last Saturday I was invited to a special screening of the famed Petronas TVCs especially held for the media and creative industry players, followed by a dialogue moderated by comedian Harith Iskandar.
Among the panellists were Star Radio Group COO Kudsia Kahar, World Vision CEO Liew Tong Ngan, film director Quek Shio Chuan, Scope Group CEO Christoffer Erichsen and Teach for Malaysia managing director Dzameer Dzulkifli.
We were encouraged to give our feedback after watching 18 selected TVCs, in conjunction with the Petronas 2014 National Day and Malaysia Day campaign. The screening list was divided into five categories – Love, The Gift of Friendship, Enduring Values, Growing Pains and Social Cohesion.
Initially the feedback centered on the touching, positive and sometimes nostalgic note the TVCs take in depicting the human interest angle of daily Malaysian life.
Then the microphone ended up in the hands of a gentleman in his early 50’s who declared that he is from the advertising industry. He spoke long and eloquently on how he thought the Petronas ads were out of touch with today’s reality of racial and religious polarization because local Politicians were playing the race and religion cards to win votes.
I thought to myself – Harith is in a quandary here. Everyone present was invited to air their views, and this gentleman was certainly doing so with gusto. Harith also could not call him out for being off topic as there were no restrictions mentioned for our feedback. Yet if Harith did not take immediate ownership of the discussion, this could possibly spiral downwards very fast.
It turned out I worried unnecessarily. Starting with my buddy Dzameer and followed quickly by Quek, Kudsia, and members of the audience - Malaysians young and old of all races put this gentleman soundly in his place by declaring that:
1. The Petronas ads are meant to be inspirational and thought provoking.
2. Politicians can and will spout whatever they want to, however it is within each citizen’s right to decide whether they want to buy into the rhetoric.
3. Change only begins when each and everyone of us walks the talk. It is easier to complain and whine than to attempt to change ourselves first.
4. Politicians who use divisive tactics by playing the race and religion cards can always be replaced by us, i.e the rakyat.
While all the above points raised were put forward in a rational, diplomatic and non-confrontational manner, the gentleman in question quickly got the message and all present got to enjoy the TVCs and subsequent healthy dicussions.
I’m sure the late Yasmin Ahmad would have approved. Heck, she might have even gone on to make another of her famed TVCs based on it.
The compilation of Petronas TVCs will be available for viewing on Petronas YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/PETRONASOfficial next month.
I've left you with my favorite Petronas ad. Yes I'm biased because I am a biker. Have a blessed Monday, peeps.