A common theme in Aidilfitri 2020 ads

This year’s ads have quite a bit of that ‘video-call element’ due to the current Covid-19 pandemic and not able to celebrate with the entire family

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ pic credit: YouTube

IT IS definitely going to be a muted Aidilfitri celebration and the Raya commercials this season — produced with the Conditional Movement Control Order in mind — might be portraying just that.

While commercials in past years would mainly be about “balik kampung” or storylines that would enhance the festive mood, this year’s works revolve mainly on current issues, particularly about not being able to celebrate with the entire family due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Yup, you guessed it. This year’s ads have quite a bit of that “video-call element”. Here’s a look at some of this year’s Hari Raya offerings:

TM’s ad is raw, showing real people, most of them are frontline workers doing their duty

TM — ‘Ramadhan & Syawal Yang Berbeza’

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) presented a simple ad that has no elaborate plots enacted by the actors, just simple images, words and clips that we have seen throughout the quarantine period, with powerful messages that will undoubtedly spark different emotions to everyone.

Right off the bat, it does not look like a Raya ad at all. The factors that tell us it is a Raya ad is the text and tune; a stripped-down version of the all too familiar “Selamat Hari Raya” sung by the late Saloma.

The ad is raw, showing real people, most of them are frontline workers doing their duty.

Even during Ramadhan, the frontliners are breaking fast while on the job, be it on the hospital floor or on the streets.

Some healthcare workers who were working on the clock wrote heartfelt messages on their Covid-19 armour such as “rindu anak” and “bapak janji bapak pulang”.

It shows everyday people enforcing the new normal and the different sacrifices that had to be made to keep everyone safe and alive.

There are many words to describe how the ad starts, but it ends up showing signs of hope, perseverance, determination and creativity from all Malaysians.

Aidilfitri is when we go all out, sometimes unintentionally setting forth a grandiose display, but this year, we have to put many things into perspective and be thankful with what we have and who we are with.

While some would want to believe that there is no point in celebrating Raya this year, TM’s ad showed the opposite. The bonds of family run extremely deep in the hearts of many Malaysians.

Above all, as Malaysians faced the most uncertain chapter of their lives in this modern age, we showed unity as a nation and helped those in needs, regardless of race and religion.

Watsons — ‘Jauh Di Mata Tetap Beraya’

Watsons unveiled an ad on how one can remain optimistic to celebrate Aidilfitri during this trying time.

It begins with a faux breaking news scene brought to audiences by television personality Naz Rahman, telling viewers ridiculous news such as “is the moon under quarantine?” and “Raya cookies can’t be found”, which leads to the main question: “Will Malaysians get to celebrate Raya or not?”

Famous local YouTuber Alyssa Dezek plays Siti who is distraught because it does not look like we will be celebrating Raya at all, a feeling that most people identify with. Subtly hinting that Siti is all of us throwing in the towel.

But not to worry, Ayda Jebat is there to cheer Siti up. No matter how we look at it, Raya is coming anyway. Maybe it is better to celebrate it with open hearts instead of being miserable.

One way to cheer Siti up, as suggested by Ayda, is online shopping! Although the ad shows some exaggeration at the beginning, the fact is many do turn to online shopping during quarantine whether to buy something for themselves or their loved ones.

In the ad, communication is only through video calls and Watsons video call is a coterie of celebrities, including Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Sean Lee, Yaya Zahir, Jinnyboy, Amber Chia, Fiqrie Dahari and many more.

In the end, as eloquently expressed by Ayda, “no matter what happens, what matters most is that we still have each other” and that “we might be miles apart, but we are still together at heart”.

Vivo — ‘Raya Style Lain’

Every family has at least one figure of authority. In Vivo’s ad, the grandmother is the family’s matriarch and the highest authority there is in all things related to Raya.

This year, grandmother has to oversee everything, from preparing the food to putting up the Raya lights via video call and the process is hilarious. Without grandmother by the family’s side, even the easiest recipes were botched, but the family remained dedicated.

In the ad, the granddaughter got a little innovative in baking a fresh batch of pineapple tarts which were burnt the first time. Since she’s already out of flour, she substitutes with bread instead and Raya is saved.

Vivo’s ad is convincing as well as entertaining without being cringy. For the most part, the storyline is also relatable because we have all walked in the granddaughter’s shoes, especially during quarantine when supplies can be scarce and we have to work with what we have.

It showed homage to all the men who donned their wife, mother and sister’s kaftans as seen in the character known as Ketua Keluarga (Interim). There was also a nod to the prime minister (PM) when grandmother was instructing her grandson to put on the Raya lights, singing a phrase from the PM’s speech that was turned into a rap song.

The ad is funny because it acknowledges the little instances that made headlines in the country as the entire nation was going through it all.

However, the message is clearly there which for most people, Raya is incomplete without the presence of our elders. In the story, everything must be set according to grandmother’s standards, but when her family fails, she does not get angry but encourages them more.

Grandmother’s standards represent the traditions that we passed down from generations, and her role and presence are to remind us to keep the tradition alive even in unlikely circumstances.

TNB — ‘Semangat Raya Epik Fantastik’

Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) went with a different route in its Aidilfitri ad this year with a meaningful song instead of its customary storytelling prowess.

It starts with the lovable Jero the cat, a character that made its debut on TNB’s 2017 Raya ad “Dugaan Aida”, playing a piano and later on a guitar.

As the music builds up, each shot that follows is of ordinary people with their families showcasing various skills including culinary, musical and hair cutting. Family spirit is a vital factor that helps people cope with the new constraints.

The ad’s lucid theme is the people’s creativity during the quarantine period which allows them to do things they have never done or taken for granted. Perhaps it is also a love letter to all Malaysians who had to stay at home to help flatten the Covid-19 curve.

Fans will certainly recognise another familiar face — Bryan from the Chinese New Year ad, seemingly watching the events through his trusty virtual reality headset.

Although it is short and sweet, TNB managed to highlight the positive values one can gain from staying at home and that the only thing that one truly needs to have a meaningful Aidilfitri is family.