Fear-mongering ads against Pakatan likely to backfire, says industry


KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Barisan Nasional’s (BN) advertisement campaign in newspapers is peddling racial fear against Pakatan Rakyat (PR) but could backfire in the May 5 general election, say industry insiders and opposition politicians.

A few of the print advertisements play on Chinese fears of PAS’ Islamist influence on the one hand, and Malay fears of DAP influence on the other, with the slogan: “A vote for DAP is a vote for PAS,” and vice versa.

An advertisement in the MCA-owned The Star depicts a rocket shooting into the sky only to reveal the PAS moon logo in its wake, with the message: “The power behind DAP is PAS. First their flag. Tomorrow their fundamentalist principles?”

“The ads look like they are designed to cause anxiety and fear that the Chinese would lose their culture and education if they vote for DAP,” Masjaliza Hamzah, from the Centre of Independent Journalism (CIJ), told The Malaysian Insider.

“There’s zero concept. Just accusations with no tact or respect. The ads are very patronising, an insult to the people’s intelligence,” said 32-year-old copywriter Kevin, who declined to give his last name.

“They forgot the golden rule of advertising. No advertising can save a bad product,” he added.

The advertisements appear to be riding on the DAP’s close shave when the Registrar of Societies (RoS) decided not to recognise its office-bearers, which meant that the party came close to having to contest under PAS’ moon logo instead of its own iconic rocket symbol.

However, the opposition parties said they are not worried about the BN ads having any negative influence, and told The Malaysian Insider that in fact they help prove that PR is a united coalition.

“Indeed a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS, and at the same time a vote for PAS is a vote for PKR, and a vote for PKR is a vote for DAP. We’re together in a coalition,” said Tony Pua, DAP national publicity secretary and Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

“The ads are very good… I hope BN continues to propagate the slogan. No vote for BN,” PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu also said.

Twitter user @patricklsk agreed, tweeting: “MCA actually paid for newspaper ads to help promote DAP-PAS cooperation? This is getting hilarious! #freemarketing”

This nuance is perhaps lost on most, however, and the ads have angered many.

“We were talking about it in the office today. Someone asked me if I had seen it, and I said yes, I have it. Come over, it’s in my dustbin,” said an account director, who declined to be named.

“The more ads they put up, the more angry the rakyat will be. They are digging a deeper hole for themselves,” she said.

A chief operating officer of an agency described the ads in The Star, with three to five opposition-slamming ads per newspaper, as “overkill”, which the public would tire of very soon.

“They do it all wrong. They give too much attention to the opposition instead of highlighting their own achievements,” he said.

“But they are good for a laugh, a bloody expensive laugh,” he added.

Pua said that BN had preyed on racial fears in the last four elections and that DAP would have reacted with anger and defensiveness before, but not this time.

“BN is still playing old politics. We have gone well beyond old politics,” he said.

A Facebook user, Tan Lin Li, wrote: “Let’s attack policies, not parties,” posting a photo of a DAP ad published in The Rocket and Sinar Harian featuring Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, which has also been making the rounds on social networks as a counter-example to the BN ads.

“There is nothing to be frightened about and I believe people in Malaysia are intelligent enough today to discern the lies BN tells them as opposed to the truth of the matter,” Pua said.

He added that if PR had any money it would create counter ads saying, “A vote for MCA is a vote for Perkasa.”

Masjaliza also questioned whether the BN ads adhere to the Malaysian Code of Advertising Practice.

Datuk Johnny Mun, chairman of 4As Malaysia, an association of advertising practitioners who share best industry practices, told The Malaysian Insider that the Code only applies to product advertising generally and does not govern political advertisements.

Masjaliza also said the ads compromise the integrity of a free and fair media.

“For example, spending on advertising should be limited to a certain amount. If there isn’t a limit, then it would give the advantage to the party with the biggest coffers,” she said.

It was earlier reported that BN and the Prime Minister’s Office had spent at least RM73 million last month on advertising, as the ruling coalition launches an advertising blitz to keep Putrajaya in what is set to be the most expensive general election ever.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 1:01 pm

    BN is wasting taxpayers’ money on advertisement campaign in newspapers. Malaysians are turning to the new media for more reliable news.

  2. #2 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 2:15 pm

    i once write to joceline tan and at [email protected] asking them to write on NFC story, Sabah Umno 40million story and GFI Report story but to no prevail…. THE STAR SHAME ON YOU…

  3. #3 by Sallang on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 2:19 pm

    MCA says,
    “A vote for DAP is a vote for PAS,” and vice versa.
    DAP says
    “A vote for MCA is a vote for Perkasa.”

    To MCA, I say, ‘A vote for MCA, is a vote for UMNO’, not BN.
    Since the theme is,’ABU’ or ‘Anything but UMNO.
    Why should the rakyat vote for MCA?

  4. #4 by SENGLANG on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 3:14 pm

    What CSK say was very true that many voters hate BN. But the hates was not because DAP or any PR parties preach to us or at least to me.

    I hate BN and MCA because of many reasons. But one reason is good enough for me to hate MCA so much, ie PKFZ

    I have been following PKFZ in the SUN paper since the beginning and now still reading the “SOME UNTOLD STORIES”

    Can MCA tell what should I not hate you, MCA?

  5. #5 by chintulan on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 4:30 pm

    Want to ask, them as caretaker goment, are they permitted to still utilized taxpayer money to print banners, run ads and blah blah blah for elections purposes. I really hope PR win and drag all them fu£$% for hearing

  6. #6 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 5:49 pm

    “A vote for dap is a vote for pas etc”, said mca.


    Voting dap / pas / pkr = voting a better future.

    A vote for umno / mca / mic etc etc = condemning our future.

  7. #7 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 6:09 pm

    UMNO/BN greatest advertisement was yesterday on NTV7. For one hour, all I heard was from Mahathir was:


  8. #8 by Winston on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 9:07 pm

    In their anxiety to win the GE and consequently thwart their comeuppance for five over decades of malfeasance, the Devils’ Party has done everything to denounce PR and its leaders.
    There is, however, one serious drawback to this strategy.
    And, that is, Malaysians nowadays are far more enlightened even compared to those who voted in GE12.
    And the more they try to blacken the PR, the more revolting their tactics are to the Malaysian electorate!
    Now, even the fence-sitters will also come over to vote for the PR.
    Whether they are PAS, PKR OR DAP, DOESN’T MATTER!!!

  9. #9 by Shadowss on Thursday, 25 April 2013 - 11:50 pm

    BN is wasting our national fund for their own good . Like thoese flags and useless ads in newspapers and TVs .What a waste of resources while these money could really help several others that are in need .

    “The power behind DAP is PAS. First their flag. Tomorrow their fundamentalist principles?”
    To me, this is crap talk . ROS wanted to prevent DAP from using their rocket logo , and when they ask permission from PAS to use the PAS logo , the quote from above appeared . What is BN trying to prove here ? Full of inconsistency .

    Vote for DAP = PAS = PKR = Pakatan Rakyat , other then BN/UMNO .

  10. #10 by Noble House on Friday, 26 April 2013 - 4:07 am

    Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need. In this case, it is our votes for some pathological liars! If the BN/MCA spent the same amount of efforts on improving their images and products as they do with the money on advertising then they wouldn’t have to advertise them.

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