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Advertisement 101: Ridiculous 1Malaysia Deepavali Ad

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(Despite the years, this is still the best Deepavali advertisement ever! It was funny, direct to the point and made us think for a second on the meaning of Deepavali. We will miss Yasmin Ahmad for her talents & creativity)

This year, I “celebrated” my Deepavali overseas again due to work assignment – I am kind of getting used it (that is worrying).

An interesting letter on this year’s Deepavali’s ads:-

The TV advertisement of 1Malaysia promotion by Finas in RTM/TV3/Astro during Deepavali this year is inundated with encouraging religious conversion of Hindus to Islam. It shows how a Hindu youth married to Muslim girl can still celebrate Deepavali with his parents.

The boy’s family is initially hostile to his Muslim conversion but accepts him after the birth of his children. Anyone who marries a Muslim in Malaysia must convert to Islam and this fact is hidden in this advertisement. This deliberately hiding of facts is mischievous and misleading to the Hindu viewers.

It leads the viewers into the belief that religious conversion may be hostile in the beginning but will be accepted upon the birth of children into the family. Finas is silently misleading Hindu youths into religious conversion as part of the 1Malaysia campaign.

The girl who is married to this convert refuses to eat food cooked by Hindu family until she is assured that the food is cooked by another Muslim. This episode only depicts that the Hindus are inferior to Muslims that they can’t eat food cooked by Hindus… not halal I suppose.


I did not have the chance of seeing Deepavali ads over our local TV until I saw one from Finas that shows the above-mentioned ad on the night I came back to Malaysia.

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At first, I thought Finas was doing a fast “Yasmin Ahmad” like an advertisement but in the end, I did not understand the message that the ad was trying to portray. Seriously it was horrible and downright patronising. It simply killed the spirit of the open house and trust among the various races in this country.

Perhaps to show that the neighbour is kind enough to come to the rescue by making “halal” breakfast for the Indian family on Deepavali first morning? Then what about all the other Malaysians who go for their banana leave treat on the weekends? Are they suppose to expect the neighbouring restaurants to bring in halal food for them? It is rather dumb to expect that the non-Muslims in this country to be ignorant of the halal standards of the Muslims.

Perhaps it is a message of understanding and forgiveness – after all, the family is “reunited” after the birth of the first grandchildren? If so, the very touching moment was grossly spoiled by the neighbour intruding with the halal food.

Perhaps it is a new concept of movie-making in 1Malaysia and that is why I am a bit lost on this (perhaps it was the jet-lag too).

Seriously whilst I am all out for Bangsa Malaysia and don’t mind on the issue of a convert wanting to be with the family for Deepavali (ya, forget that the conversion issue is in a big mess in Malaysia but seriously, in the ad, it was touching), the ad could be done with a better storyline and a good dose of sensitivity to the Indians.

Why show that the girl refuses to eat until it was assured that it was not cooked by the in-laws?

What happened to the concept of an open house in Malaysia? What happened to us trusting each other? No one brought their own food to open house before. Instead of being an ad with a good message, it ended up as being an insensitive, message between the lines ad.

I just wonder, don’t we have any better story for Deepavali ads? Or whatever talent we had, died with the demise of the late Yassim Ahmad?

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1 thought on “Advertisement 101: Ridiculous 1Malaysia Deepavali Ad”

  1. FINAS boss apologised for that useless Deepavali ad, according to the Sun (12/11/10).
    It was such a disappointing ad – nothing to do with Deepavali. It was more of a 1Malaysia ad. These people should also be fined just like the other TV folks for their ‘ridiculous’ Hari Raya ad. No class lah!

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