Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

This new e-commerce entrant is blazing a marketing trail–shifting the spotlight to partner merchants

Malaysia – SUBPLACE, a new e-commerce player from Malaysia has recently launched to disrupt the subscription market – although independent players may have been running the rental and subscription model for quite some time, SUBPLACE has emerged to provide a dedicated e-commerce to house all of these brands in one place. 

While SUBPLACE is at it, the e-commerce is not stopping in its tracks of innovation. With a brave new platform, comes a fresh marketing strategy – shifting the spotlight to partner brands and merchants. 

Soft-launched in early December, all products and services on SUBPLACE are offered on a subscription basis, with a portion of non-edible products made available for lease or rent-to-own, where users only need to subscribe once to receive their products and services regularly.

While many e-commerce platforms are rightly hung up on attracting shoppers, SUBPLACE is also showering some love on an equally valuable part of the equation – the partner merchants.

In its ongoing campaign ‘Founder story’, SUBPLACE has rallied founders and top management executives of partner merchants to talk about each of their brand’s vision and story.

Joshua Chin, CEO of computer rental service Smart Rental, on his short feature for SUBPLACE’s ‘Founder story’ campaign

At its early stage, the e-commerce currently features majority of its items from local Malaysian brands computer rental Smart Rental, probiotic drink Yakult, and health and wellness retail chain store Ogawa, as well as bedding manufacturer and furniture company Goodnite, and services from intimate health and aesthetic clinic Clinic Rui.  

In a 3-to 4-minute video, top management from the said brands are given the seat to talk about the brand’s story and promise, and what it means for them to partner with a subscription model platform like SUBPLACE. 

Patrick Wee of local Malaysian wellness clinic Clinic Rui is one of the founders featured in the campaign

SUBPLACE cozies the often serious and hard-at-work individuals, capturing them at their candor. Set up in a muted, pitch-black background, executives’ passion are brought into focus.

In one video, Patrick Wee, founder of Clinic Rui, shared how like the healthcare center, he himself values wellness and ‘slowing down’. Wee would also be seen doing yoga at the beginning.

In the feature, Wee said that the subscription model allows for its clinic to offer flexible options to clients, and therefore helps them build trust among customer relationships.

Yakult Malaysia’s Managing Director Hiroshi Himada on his feature for SUBPLACE

In Yakult’s video meanwhile, Hiroshi Himada, its managing director, is captured in his spontaneity with all smiles and even humorously singing repetitive lyrics of ‘Yakult.’

Of course, leading the pack is SUBPLACE’s founder Mak WH, who used the opportunity to share the idea behind SUBPLACE. 


Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, SUBPLACE’s CEO Mak WH said, “We think each brand has [its] own story, but the public may not have an opportunity to know more about these brands, many of which have interesting insights to share.”

“We wanted to give them the opportunity to express first hand why they created their brand and what their motto, their achievements, even their company core values are,” added Mak.

SUBPLACE believes that businesses operate best when they adopt a singular business model, such as a subscription model, and therefore, invited its business partners to be its ‘ambassadors’ of the model brought about by changing consumer behaviors.

“We invited our biz partners to be storytellers, to talk about why they chose to adopt the subscription model in these challenging times, and what their inspiration for doing so was. Through these short features, we also introduce the subscription business model to viewers and convey how this model differs from other business models through first-hand accounts from business owners,” said Mak.

SUBPLACE has already established its online presence across all social media platforms, with the campaign currently running on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, with the short features published on YouTube.

SUBPLACE further shared that as many business partners have come on board the platform, it intends to continuously run the campaign so that more consumers are able to ‘meet’ the faces behind their favorite brands.

SUBPLACE also revealed that it is currently preparing a new campaign for Chines New Year with the occasion fast approaching.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Following new org, dentsu MY ropes in Mindshare’s managing director to lead Media business

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – As global media and digital marketing communications network dentsu evolves its organization into three lines of business, namely Creative, Media, and CRM, the company has been moving and nabbing executives to officially set its leadership lineup. 

Just very recently, dentsu announced Prerna Mehrotra as its new CEO for Media, and this time, dentsu in Malaysia has also done its share of reorganization, unveiling its new CEO for Media, Dheeraj Raina. 

Prior to joining dentsu, Raina is global media agency network Mindshare’s managing director in Malaysia. 

Nicky Lim, CEO of dentsu Malaysia, said, “It’s fantastic to welcome Dheeraj as our new Media CEO and drive our ambitious business growth plans forward. With his impressive track record of growth, I have no doubt he will accelerate dentsu international onto an exciting path and ultimately, help us deliver on our business objectives.” 

Raina is recognized for his proprietary IP’s for retail, telecom, and travel industries in marketing planning and for his contributions as a mentor to SMEs and start-ups in Malaysia.

He brings with him more than 16 years of experience in marketing and business strategy, having worked with leading brands such as telecom Celcom, dairy brand Friesland-Campina, and telecom Digi, as well as hypermarket Tesco, Malaysia conglomerate Sunway, and personal care Kimberly-Clark. Prior to his directorial position at GroupM’s Mindshare, he was also managing director at digital, analytics, and marketing solutions ADA, running the country business for Malaysia and other emerging markets. 

Commenting on his appointment, Raina said, “I’m thrilled to have this exciting opportunity to lead all the media brands at dentsu malaysia –  Consider iProspect, Vizeum, Carat, dentsu X, Amplifi, Posterscope, and Amnet – towards being more solutions-oriented, integrated and leading the industry. Today, media agencies sit at the center of unlocking growth for clients, and with such power brands at dentsu, I am looking forward to building cutting-edge solutions and teams.” 

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

FOREFRONT creates ‘understated, yet elegant’ virtual launch for Hyundai MY

Malaysia – The pandemic didn’t stop vehicle brands from amplifying their marketing – at the start of the second half of 2020, we’ve seen BMW in Malaysia unveil an augmented reality showroom, and this time another global automobile brand – Hyundai – in the country showed off its consumer engagement smarts through the leverage of virtual experience. 

In partnership with creative agency FOREFRONT, Hyundai took its first-ever jump to a virtual launch, unveiling all-new units of its car models ‘Kona’ and ‘Sonata’. Running for over a little 20-minutes long, the brand captured the excitement of a car launch through its minimalist but fierce graphics, and even making the engagement more intimate via its in-depth look at the cars’ features and details. 

Jeff Chang, CEO of FOREFRONT, shared to MARKETECH APAC that the creative agency chose an understated yet elegant theme to bring out the futuristic atmosphere in the virtual launch – applying darker themes to represent the Hyundai Sonata, while, colored accents used in the lighting for Hyundai Kona to help accentuate the model. 

Hyundai said it separately used colored and dark themes to represent each of the brand’s models.

“The matured color tones are also symbolic of the growing-up narrative for those who are looking for an upgrade for their vehicles and help consumers to visualize that a car is more than just a transportation solution, but an extension of one’s personality,” said Chang. 

Chang also shared the agency had been prepared for these kinds of projects ever since the second wave of the virus hit Malaysia, gathering its team of talents in event management, video production, and social content management, to help clients who otherwise would have to rely on physical events to engage their customers in such activities as new product launches.

Image from FOREFRONT.

“With Hyundai coming on board, it presented us [with] an opportunity to put our firm’s strengths [to] practice, and helped propel a milestone launch event which otherwise would be a challenge to organize in the age of safer-at-home,” he stated.

According to FOREFRONT, the virtual launch garnered a total of more than a million views. 

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Malaysian digital growth in 2020: exponential online traffic means exponential opportunities

Malaysia – 2020 was a challenging year. Across the board, people have had to adapt to new styles of working, adapt to new business strategies, and even changed industries. It would be easy to write off 2020 as a ‘bad year’, but I believe that’s the wrong way of looking at things. In fact, there is a case to be made for 2020 being one of the most important periods in the evolution of digital marketing, all over the globe. Let’s look at the facts.

1. As a direct impact of the lockdown in the pandemic, specifically called Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia, there has been a surge of online activity that was unprecedented. Everyone staying at home with no recourse for outside entertainment meant that users were highly more inclined to spend time online. Think about what that means in terms of your online audience, and compare it with the online audience of, say 2019.

2. With MCO, suddenly there are more people on social platforms than ever before. When users used to consume digital media when they were at home pre-COVID, now entire nations can (and do) consume digital media throughout the whole day. And it doesn’t end at media consumption. Over the course of 2020, users have also taken more decisive action to leverage digital platforms to fulfill consumer needs.

3. Where there have previously been large pools of users that were either unfamiliar or untrusting of e-commerce and online shopping, those groups have largely been converted. Where there was once a common mistrust, there are now entire generations of new believers.

4. Think about it, now your parents or grandparents have become somewhat accustomed to the online shopping process (at the very least, they understand how to browse and then ask for their children’s help with the purchasing process).

5. To illustrate the above point, Facebook recently reported that Southeast Asia as a whole has undergone an approximate 5 YEARS worth of digital ‘education’ in just one year of 2020. This means that what would have originally taken 5 years of digital education to achieve this size of audience with media consumption and e-commerce familiarity has only taken a year because – that’s right – new users have taken the initiative to educate themselves on how the process works. This in turn means great news for all digital marketers.

6. As marketers, in order to sell, you need a market to sell to. For digital, understand that your audience is limited to users that are on the digital platform. To grow your potential audience, an education process must happen to educate users about their ability to conduct purchases online. There is an overwhelming increase in demand for online consumption, and the supply of services is struggling to keep up. The climate is still fresh.

7. So what does this mean for you? Don’t worry, a rising tide raises ALL ships.

8. If you are a small business owner, you can pivot extremely fast in order to scale. You have an expanded audience to collect data and learnings from, and with the right automation tools deployed strategically, you can grow your business at an accelerated rate than you would have been able to just this time last year. Use this knowledge as leverage that you have an exponentially bigger audience to sell now vs. just a year ago.

9. If you are a larger scale marketer for bigger brands, you should also rejoice, as the digital market is bigger than ever, with so much more to play for. There is a bigger slice of the pie to corner, assuming you are willing to experiment with new strategies and pivot as you go along. With the power of scale, your analytics tools will be more important than ever in leveraging the mass amounts of data available. This is the time to run mass A/B testing and test out different audience sets as there is more data than ever, and there is a key opportunity here to actually help shape the market in these early days.

10. Come 2021: NOW is the time to make big, bold moves on digital. This is the time for taking bigger risks, and collecting learnings while the new digital climate is still fresh. For those that refuse to adapt…the market will not wait for you.

This article was written by Fadli Azali of iProspect.

iProspect is a digital marketing agency part of the Dentsu Aegis Network in Malaysia. It delivers integrated marketing campaigns such as performance marketing, search engine optimization, website, and app development, content marketing, as well as social media, and CRM.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Bakeable KitKat Cheesecake flavor is available in Malaysia

Malaysia – Japan is known for innovating the global brand Nestlé’s KitKat into a multitude of exciting flavors that transcend the classic and basic variants of chocolate, white, and dark chocolate. One of its flavors – Cheesecake – which also happens to be bakeable is available in Malaysia.

Released in 2015, Japan has showcased yet another form of ingenuity on this one, where the KitKat variant can be eaten as it is or popped into an oven for a better – carmelized – version of the wafer.

Image from @junkfoodonthego on Instagram

According to KL Foodie, instructions to bake the KitKat can be found at the back of the packaging. One Instagram user Huizhen Li, with the handle @huizhen0106, showed on the social media network the transformation.

She shared the wafer selection is “crispy and light” where the white chocolate still dominates the cheese flavor.

KL Foodie said to place the KitKat on a baking sheet and put in a toaster or oven for about two minutes, then immediately, place in a freezer to let chill for a bit.

For the past years, one of the most popular Japan-made KitKat flavors is the ‘matcha’ or green tea. The maker responsible is the ‘KitKat Chocolatory’, which is actually the brand’s store for premium flavors which has presence in different countries worldwide.

KitKat Chocolatory in Japan
KitKat Matcha flavor

The store in Japan has produced the most unexpected selections within KitKats such as Soy sauce, Cherry blossom, and Ginger ale. Similarly with the cheesecake flavor, the country has released varieties Blueberry cheesecake and Strawberry cheesecake, and a bakeable Custard.

The cheesecake flavor is said to be limited edition. It comes in a packet of 12 mini KitKats and can be ordered via Shopee.

Main feature image from Huizhen Li (@huizhen0106) on Instagram.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Local investment firm NEXEA, MDEC partners anew for ‘Entrepreneurs Programme’

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Local startup investment company NEXEA Angels and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has renewed their partnership agreement for the entrepreneurs-dedicated platform Entrepreneurs Programme (EP).

EP is a platform that facilitates journey-enriching connections with peers and like-minded individuals to gain fresh perspectives and learn from one another through the sharing of ideas, advice, best practices, and experiences, in an otherwise lonely entrepreneurial journey.

MDEC and NEXEA first entered into an agreement to pilot the Entrepreneurs Programme early of this year and have found it to be a proven success amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the partnership deal, MDEC will provide program sponsorship for 32 participants and will funnel potential high-growth startup founders from their startup database into the program.

NEXEA’s Managing Director Ben Lim

COVID-19 severely impacted startups as it undercut the mobility of businesses. Startup founders now more than ever require assistance in order to power through these trying economic period. The Entrepreneurs Programme provides a facilitated peer network to guide founders in navigating these stressful times. Our pilot EP proved to be a success with our in-program participants recording positive QOQ numbers for revenue growth as well as headcount, indicating the positive impact EP has on the overall wellbeing of these startups.

Ben Lim, Managing Director, NEXEA

He added, “We are thrilled to have MDEC on board with us again to nurture our local entrepreneurs for growth and ultimately spur the Malaysian entrepreneurial ecosystem. Entrepreneurs from all industries and verticals who have business traction are welcome to participate in our program.”

EP operates on a peer-to-peer mentoring methodology to create sustainable businesses by priming growth-stage technology-driven startups for their next startup stage through interactive action learning, active discussions, and networking with co-founders from different industries to form a support system.

VP of MDEC’s digitally-powered business division Gopi Ganesalingam

NEXEA has been a close strategic partner of MDEC this year. Through our partnership, we have assisted with the development and growth of over 20 startups. During these tough times, MDEC believes that it is even more crucial for us to extend our support to as many startups as possible and provide them with the much-needed investment, mentorship, and training opportunities. With such impressive outcomes from the first batch this year, we look forward to even stronger impact through this renewed partnership.

Gopi Ganesalingam, VP, MDEC’s Digitally-Powered
Business Division

The program’s evergreen syllabus allows for it to run interminably and aims to guide participants all the way to an IPO stage. EP participants convene in groups of 15 once a month for a full-day meeting to collaboratively work through business issues faced by these business leaders, discuss own challenges for practical solutions from the group and reflect on valuable feedback.

EP currently has over 40 startup founders and CEOs participating. Existing participants include Poladrone, KwikCar, LaPasar, Printcious, SoftSolvers Solutions, Lokein, Mobi, Zcova, Running Man among others.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

NESCAFÉ makes homegrown coffee closer to reach for Malaysians via new variant

Malaysia – Coffee is good without a doubt, but NESCAFÉ in Malaysia has just upped the bar for everyone’s favorite drink with its new variant – Kopi Kedah – which is a Malaysian, homegrown coffee flavor. 

The new flavor isn’t just a formulation born out of better marketing judgment but is actually a product of an almost a year-running campaign by the brand called ‘Grown Respectfully’. 

Grown Respectfully is a coffee farming program initiated in 2019 in Malaysia state Kedah, which aims to revitalize the Malaysian coffee farming sector, and improve the livelihoods of farmers. Kopi Kedah is its first product out of the partnership with the farmers. 

NESCAFÉ shared that in the past 12 months, it has trained 100 coffee farmers, planted 70,000 seedlings, and has established a collection center for future harvests. 

The limited-edition flavor is said to carry the smooth and authentic taste of local coffee. It is available in 9 SpeedMart, Billion, MYDIN, and AEON at RM23.02 for a tin of 170g. Customers can even avail of it via Shopee or Lazada. 

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Yasir Yusoff joins Publicis Malaysia as creative director

Malaysia – Yasir Yusoff, former creative director of Kuala Lumpur-based digital marketing and customer experience (CX) agency Entropia Global, has joined the Malaysia arm of global communications group, Publicis Groupe, as its new creative director

Yusoff’s appointment is a comeback, having joined the Publicis Malaysia team in the same position in 2018.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Yusoff said, “The move back to Publicis was a no-brainer for me. I missed the great creative culture, the opportunities, and the brands.”  

Yusoff brings with him a decade of directorial experience. Prior to his position at Entropia and Publicis, he also headed the creative department of local advertising and events agency Friends Advertising & Communications.  

Publicis’ Executive Creative Director Emir Shafri believes in Yusoff’s deep experience in the consumer brand category, specifically his knack for understanding consumers as people and not just as data points. 

“He knows that beyond ‘digital-first’, or ‘end-to-end customer experience-first’, you’ve got to think people first. He understands the nuanced difference between a person growing up in the East Coast coastal towns, the Sabahan cities or even among the posh cafés of Bangsar, which is so important for a beloved Malaysian household name like NESCAFÉ,” said Shafri.

On Yusoff’s appointment, Shafri also commented, “We’re happy to welcome Yasir back to the Publicis Groupe family. With his combination of category experience, talent, curiosity, and humility, Yasir loves seeking out to understand [how diverse] Malaysians live and breathe, beyond just what the data points tell him. And it shows in the stories he tells.”

Meanwhile, the new creative director commented, “I’m ecstatic to join Publicis Groupe again. To have the opportunity to work on a massive brand is a privilege. I have a talented team and the support of the network at my disposal. My goal is to continuously elevate the quality of creative work that we bring to the table – whether it’s for our client, or for the NESCAFÉ brand as a whole.”

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

This platform lets you commission your favorite celebrities for personal shoutouts

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – How many times have you wished to get your favorite celebrities for a personal message? Probably too many, and probably one that remains unfulfilled. 

Regional event hiring platform Effro has just launched a new service arm Gueststar, which allows costumers to commission a media personality to produce unique video content for personal use. 

The company behind the new platform, Effro, provides a talent and services database, which helps event organizers easily find needed talents and services, such as emcees, performers, videographers, and appropriate venues, among others. With its new and one-of-a-kind service, consumers need not grapple to accomplish an often ‘special’ gift for special occasions – a personal video from a favorite celebrity. 

From birthday messages to wedding proposals, and from jokes to pep talk, costumers are able to engage their favorite local stars in Malaysia and Singapore.

Gueststar is a unique platform that aims to bring your favorite stars closer to you. Through digital means, time and space are no longer deterrents in creating a beautiful experience for your loved ones. With Gueststar, the distance between you and your favorite stars is brought closer

Adam Tan, Founder, Gueststar

Through the Gueststar platform, costumers can submit a request to the star of their choice and include pointers for the video’s content. Within 7 days of a submitted request, which is subject to approval, a video ranging from 20 seconds to 2 minutes will be produced and delivered.

On its celebrity roster, 50 stars are available on request. Singapore stars include Allan Wu, Andie Chen, Gurmit Singh, and Jason Godfrey among others; while for Malaysia stars, Gueststar has Adeline Tsen, Aishah, Atilia Haron, and Dina Nadzir, among others.

Clients can also request for special characters such as Batman and Cinderella, impersonators for Michael Jackson and Taylor Swift, and also magician Andrew Lee, who is a past finalist on Asia’s Got Talent and Britain Got Talent.

The costs of engagement range from RM30 to RM3500. While videos are produced mainly in English, users can request for other languages such as Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin. 

Gueststar is now available for customers.