Deepavali is coming soon, signaling a time to look out for heartwarming festive ads in Malaysia. It’s a unique national pastime, which almost qualifies as a tradition on its own; where every Malaysian seeks out the brand advertisements that evoke the most feels.
Petronas ads have become synonymous with that special feeling and many like to attribute it to the late Yasmin Ahmad, who was known for the style of her quirky yet charming way of story-telling.
These days, most of the big brands, from TNB to Touch N Go, have taken advantage of this Malaysian interest in ads to make some of the most fun-loving and spirited ads there is.
Over the years, some have stood out more than others for their exceptionally memorable and feel good factor.
For those of you hooked on the phone this Deepavali, we’ve got a memory lane treat for you in the form of some well-made Deepavali advertisements that have moved the hearts of thousands of Malaysians while at the same time capturing the sparkly spirit of the festival. They don’t call it the Festival of Lights for nothing.
TFAKL – Dunhill, 1992
Those of us born in the 1980s were running around in diapers when some of these ads played on national television. Back then, before Astro and Netflix, all of us were exposed to the same ads and most likely could discuss about it at the coffeeshop or school the next day.
One thing that amazed us in one ad was seeing a pan-Asian looking person performing the Bharatanatyam.
The little information we know of this ad is that it was a collaboration between the advertising agency Leo Burnett with the Temple of Fine Arts, a traditional Indian performing arts centre based in Malaysia, who supplied the talented artistes for Dunhill. If you have any details, please do share it with us!
Duelling Masseurs – 1996, Petronas
Admit it, you’ve probably imitated the rhythms of the traditional Indian drums at one point in your life.
The ad featured Indian culture with marvelous depth simply by showcasing the way people in an Indian household appreciated their traditions through music, the ritual oil bath and the relationship banter between family members.
We learn not only that classical Indian beats possess an element of dueling in its nature, but also understand why it’s important to preserve the legacy in the face of impending modernism.
You’re My Universe – 2001, Petronas
Unlike typical representations of the Hindu deities Shiva, Parvathi, Ganesha and Murugan, this ad gives the divine entities a human persona.
It’s also the first time – correct us, if we’re wrong – an ad tackled a profound story from Hinduism and showcased it with such grace.
Lights – 2002, Petronas
Those who lived during the 1940s and 50s can attest that hardship was a common endurance of many Malaysian Indians in the early years of migration from India. They were likely Malaysia’s first generation to be born in the country. Curious about that? Here are some origin stories of Malaysians to explore.
This Petronas ad, produced in 2002, however, captures perfectly how earlier families underwent sacrifice to ensure the success and happiness of future generations. Show this to your dad or mum and they’ll likely share how someone in the family might have had a similar experience.
By the way, did you spot Yasmin Ahmad in the ad? Read more about the legendary filmmaker here.
Boyz In Da Hood – 2003, Petronas
When this advertisement made its debut on national television, it instantaneously became the talk of the town!
It was humorously relatable and still a popular reference even today. Definitely among the best Deepavali ads in Malaysia of all time, which poignantly serves as a cute reminder for youth to embrace cultural roots as much as keeping up with modern trends.
Ikan Dilaut, Asam Didarat – 2004, TV3
In 2004 and 2005, two major Malaysian festivals coincided: The Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Deepavali. And that’s how we had Deeparaya!
TV3 produced a tear-jerking ad that showcased how two friends from different ethnicity saw each other as brothers. The ad also harks back to the good ol’ simple days. You know, a time devoid of the internet, Facebook, Twitter, and keyboard warriors.
Dead Heroes – 2004, Petronas
In case you’re wondering if this is a sponsored post for Petronas, we can assure you, it’s not.
Ask any Malaysian and they’ll testify that Petronas’ festive ads are amazing tear-jerkers. Because of this, many look forward to them whenever the three big festivals arrive in Malaysia.
This ad has a heartwarming twist at the end. Oh, be sure to have a box of tissues on standby.
Thavasothy – Petronas, 2007
Based on the life of an actual blind teacher, this ad by Petronas tugged the hearts of many when it showcased the struggles endured by Thavasothy S.M. Pillai.
In case you’re curious, the ad employs the real life person, Mr. Thavasothy himself! For the uninitiated, Thavasothy was formerly a school teacher who went on to do some truly amazing work, specifically for the blind community in Malaysia. Another one of our favorites!
Giant – 2010, Petronas
Quick! Grab yet another box of tissues.
While all the other ads showcased the importance of filial piety, respecting one’s elders and keeping traditions and cultures alive, this ad is a little extra special.
And for a good reason too.
I am Muniandy – 2016, Petronas
Watching this was a breath of fresh air because the ad dealt with an important subject: Prejudice.
It also highlighted how we as Malaysians are quick to judge people based on their appearances.
Monochrome – 2018, Petronas
Guys, you have no idea how many boxes of tissues I’ve wasted just researching these ads. This one would hit right in the feels for many of you.
These were just some of the many advertisements that left a huge mark on Malaysians. We hope you enjoyed the list we’ve created.
If we missed out any, please comment below or drop us an email at email@example.com. Here’s wishing everyone a joyous Deepavali! By the way, check out Yasmin Ahmad who was known for making some of the best Malaysian ads.