Looking to build brand affinity during the competitive ad season of Ramadan and Hari Raya, Malaysia’s Celcom launched an innovative YouTube campaign featuring both short- and long-form video content. The festive ads were released all throughout the month, netting more than 8M views and driving significant increases in sign-ups.
Build brand affinity during Ramadan and Hari Raya
Drive sign-ups for product plans and special offers
Improve cost efficiency
Launched month-long YouTube campaign showcasing a unique video for each day of Ramadan leading up to Hari Raya
Used insights from Google about the target audience to create compelling narrative
Ended series with long-format “Letters from Mak” video with CTA driving viewers to microsite
+337% increase in EasyPhone sign-ups
+30K redemptions of Video Walla offer
+13% lift in ad recall
In mobile-first Malaysia, roughly 60% of the population observes Ramadan and Hari Raya (commonly known as Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan).1 To prepare for the festivities, many people turn to YouTube as their go-to platform for Hari Raya music, traditional Malaysian recipes, and other relevant cultural content. Malaysians watched 179M minutes of Ramadan-related videos on YouTube in 2016.2 That's 340 years of human time spent watching YouTube in one Ramadan!
As Malaysia’s longest-standing mobile telecommunications company, Celcom has always focused its messaging on its superior speed and coverage. But as the telco space became increasingly crowded—and more competitive—the brand knew it needed to re-evaluate “how” and “where” it spoke to consumers.
Celcom understood that it needed to connect better with its target consumers and reshape the perception of the brand as being down-to-earth—a brand that people could connect and engage with. Celcom recognized YouTube as the best place to reach an engaged and target audience of video lovers, and it came up with an ambitious plan for its first-ever digital campaign: build excitement and develop an emotional connection over Hari Raya by releasing one unique video per day over the one-month fasting period.
Using Google insights to build a strong narrative
Celcom knew that Malaysians tend to watch videos as they prepare for sahur (the meal before dawn) and wait for buka puasa (the meal at dusk). The brand wanted to create a one-of-a-kind campaign that would connect with consumers on an emotional level, so it set out to learn more about content that would resonate with Malaysian audiences. By studying search and viewing habits during Ramadan, the brand found that Malaysians tend to gravitate toward four key values and themes: importance of family, helping others, self-improvement, and enjoying food.
Google Trends, search query trends, and viewing behaviors also revealed that:
- Zakat (tithing) and doa (prayers) are top of mind for Malaysians during the holy month.
- Malaysians also think of gift-giving during Ramadan—more than at any other time of the year.
- Interestingly, humor plays very well during Ramadan.
- Using children (and cats) as the main subject matter can increase view-through rates.
- Malaysians tend to respond well to long-form, emotional content.
Based on these insights, the narrative structure of Celcom’s campaign was born: using children to convey funny, modern takes on the “petua” (beliefs or sayings passed down through generations), which are traditionally given by mothers.
Consistent, relevant visibility on YouTube
Key to the campaign strategy was not just promoting one video, but prolonging the length of engagement with Malaysians and releasing one unique video each day for a month. The brand's goal was for consistent visibility in order to leave a lasting impression on the audience and create strong associations of Celcom with Ramadan and Hari Raya.
Each day, a unique, short video appeared with the same opening and closing: a thought bubble with a modern batik design along with the title of the series, “Mak Kata … Petua 1,” “Mak Kata … Petua 2,” and so forth. The consistent campaign structure prompted viewers to expect a new video every day, and served as an indirect countdown to the much-anticipated Hari Raya.
The production of these shorts was intentionally raw, with the desire to capture the authenticity that children naturally bring.
While all videos had a call to action that led viewers to Celcom's microsite, some videos thoughtfully weaved petuas with a telco's natural role in consumers' lives: to connect them with loved ones, especially during the holiday season. An example of this is seen in this ad: "Mother says that if you are not able to see your siblings [for the Hari Raya festivities], you can give them a call.”
The video concludes with a Celcom offering to connect Malaysians during the Ramadan season.
The shorts lead up to the longer-form thematic "Letters from Mak" which was released a few days before Hari Raya. The video portrayed a story of three sisters who each found letters from their mother with old family recipes. The letters prompted the sisters (and their cat!) to come together and cook for the Hari Raya festivities in the spirit of tradition, family, and togetherness:
Compelling “Mak Kata” content connects with consumers
The month-long campaign was a huge success, garnering more than 8.3M views (6,562 total hours of watchtime), with an impressive view-through rate of 29%. In addition to a low cost-per-view, the brand enjoyed 20.8M free impressions and more than 5,000 earned actions from additional views, shares, and likes.
This extended brand engagement lasted well beyond the month of Ramadan and Hari Raya, and even led to an increase in channel subscriptions. The entire campaign led to a 13% lift in ad recall, with the highest lift among males ages 25—34.
The impact of branding on business is likewise evident in the 337% increase in sign-ups of Celcom's postpaid offering and the 30K redemptions of their 1GB Video Walla Hari Raya offering during the campaign.
“Celcom is a homegrown brand that is constantly evolving. We strive to create engaging campaigns that are relevant to our Malaysian audience. With ‘Mak Kata’ in particular, we focused on the core theme of timeless teachings from mothers. And what better way to reach our audience than on the world’s biggest video platform? YouTube is cost-efficient and allows us to create never-done-before, digital-first content that entices and engages viewers,” concluded Grace Chan, Head of Brand and Marketing, Celcom Axiata Bhd.