Lunar New Year has come and gone. During this time, there is one particular country that is flooded with LNY TV ads – my birth country Malaysia.


In 1996, the first non-commercial LNY ad appeared on Malaysians’ TV and it was produced by Petronas (oil and gas company). Since then, Petronas has been the role model in using its ads to remind Malaysians the importance of racial harmony among the main ethnic groups of Malay (67%), Chinese (25%), and Indians (7%). Petronas produces these ads during key cultural festivals three times a year.


22 years later, we are seeing more than 60 companies launching LNY ads in Malaysia and represented these sectors in 2018:

  • Airlines
  • Automobile
  • Banks
  • Food and beverage
  • Homeware
  • Medicine
  • Personal care
  • Property
  • Tech companies
  • Tourism
  • Utility


The messages of the ads can be largely categorised  into 5 key areas:

  • Importance of family reunion
  • Mending relationships with family members, eg with parents, with siblings, with husband and wife
  • Racial harmony
  • Attitude and gratitude
  • Product engagement


In terms of the style of the ads, 50% is based on pulling emotional heartstrings, 40% playing on nostalgic moments, and 10% using humour.


I’ve picked the top 4 ads that stood out based on these criteria:

  • Message cut through – how different is the ad compared to others.
  • Relatability – how closely the audience relate to the ad.
  • Entertainment value – how much emotions does the ad stir up. This also increases the likelihood of sharing
  • Brand engagement – how the product is infused into the ad to improve brand consideration in the next purchase.


Best ad for message cut through

By TNB, a utility company.



 Best ad for relatability

By LAZADA, an online shopping platform owned by Alibaba Group.



Best ad for entertainment value

By U Mobile, an upcoming mobile carrier competing with established carriers.



Best ad for brand engagement (get your tissues ready)

By Traveloka, an online travel aggregator and booking app.



Honourable mention #1

Based on real life story that promotes racial harmony, by CIMB bank



Honourable mention #2

A rare LNY ad that is narrated in Malay language and featuring Baba Nyonya culture, by Celcom mobile carrier



Honourable mention #3

An international brand that has always promoted diversity and family values.
This one includes empowering females. Tissues ready please.
By Budweiser



Here’s a complete playlist of all the 69 LNY ads in 2018 found on YouTube, ranked by total views.


These ads make up a viewing window to Malaysia’s multicultural society and the strong family values and racial harmony that are well-preserved for generations after generations. They tell the story of early settlers’ struggles in the early days, and the importance of accepting and celebrating each others’ differences. It’s what makes Malaysia such a beautiful country to visit, to live, and to do business with.


New Zealand is proud of its Maori origins and also being home to more than 200 ethnic groups. I hope to see Kiwi companies start to promote racial harmony through their marketing campaigns and social media. I think the first company to do so will have a first mover advantage as a trailblazer, just like Petronas.


Eric Chuah is the founder of Cultural Connections, a multicultural research and consulting firm working with government, NGO’s, and private sectors. He is currently serving as Independent Advisor for Multicultural New Zealand; Board Trustee for Auckland Regional Migrant Services; and Ethnic Media Advisor for New Zealand Human Rights Commission.