The Malaysian advertising industry has come a long way from its early beginnings to what it is today, where it remains as one of the most competitive markets in the region. Malaysian gained its independence in 1957 and following the following few years saw some professional agencies like Masters, Benson, Fortune, MarkLin and Union 45.

Early ad agencies in Malaysia

There were the likes of Grant which would later become Bozell and Cathay advertising which would then be Ted Bates later as well who played important roles in the development of this sector then.

First Malaysian Ad agency

Union 45 is perhaps the most significant agency then as it has often been regarded as the first Malaysian advertising agency. It was the works of founder Lee Yuen Hong who had stints as a cartoonist and graphic designer.

Birth of the 4As

The 4As (Associated of Accredited Advertising Agencies) of Malaysia was established in 1971 to represent the voice of the advertising agencies in Malaysia where it is now home to more than 130 members. Among the efforts undertaken by 4As include its ‘No Poach Policy’ in the 90s where agencies are not allowed to pinch staff amongst its members.

Awards in the Advertising Industry

The Malaysian advertising industry is highly competitive and to cultivate the healthy competition, awards are given out periodically so that the quality of work can be appreciated and improved. Among them are:

  • Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands (MMVB) Awards which is launched and organized by the 4As with Interbrand and supported by the Malaysian government through Matrade (Malaysia External Trade Development Corp).
  • The Effie Awards is the effort of 4As, the MAA (Malaysian Advertisers Association) and the MSA (Media Specialists Association) and supported by Matrade as well. Effie is the nick used to refer to ‘Effective’ and awards campaigns for effective advertising and held in more than 30 countries around the world.
  • The Putra Brand Awards is used to recognize the best brands in Malaysia in some 20 categories.
  • The Kancil Awards is perhaps the most established and prestigious award for the advertising sector where agencies with the best campaigns, ads and other areas are given their due recognition.

Future looks exciting for this sector

Moving forward, one can no longer deny the importance of digital advertising as well as out-of-home media. Where this is concerned, advertising campaigns would remain as campaigns and if new media is not incorporated, the brand would lose out to its competitors who do.

Billboards, digital boards using LED technology, public transportation and large building wrap-around have become a lot more popular today than before and this landscape will only continue to grow and prosper in the near future.