Rapp, a communications company owned by Foetus International, has come under fire for creating a series of incisive political advertisements for Barisan Nasional (BN). The ads have irked netizens to start a petition after it ran extensively in mainstream newspaper, The Star, and other nespapers from last Sunday and was shared on Facebook.
Quoting unidentified sources, trade magazine Campaign Asia-Pacific reported that Kuala Lumpur-based Rapp was said to be the agency which created the ads which insinuate that a vote for Democratic Action Party (DAP) in the 13th Malaysian General Elections would be the same as endorsing the Pan-Islamic Malaysian Party (PAS). This drew much flak from the Malaysian online community with 648 so far signing an online petition calling for advertisers to stop using racial and religious tactics against Malaysians.
The petition also urged Naga DDB, the parent of Rapp to stop the ad campaign. David Mitchell, Naga DDB’s Chief operating officer (COO) however told KiniBiz that Rapp was a separate company from Naga DDB, related only by their common parent Foetus International.
Lim Wai Yee, Rapp’s COO did not respond to queries at publication time.
Rapp KL is owned by Foetus International, a leading communications company headed by Vincent Lee. Lee is also the executive deputy chairman of Star Publications (M) Bhd.
Malaysians vote on May 5 in what is shaping up to be a neck-to-neck fight between Barisan Nasional, which has ruled Malaysia for 55 years, and Pakatan Rakyat, which champions race-free economic reform.
The ad campaign, which is said to be in bad taste, was seen to be backed by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the Chinese-component party of BN and observers said it served to draw fear out of the rise of PAS-styled Islam rule in multi-racial Malaysia.
MCA is the major shareholder of The Star with 42 percent. The advertisements in The Star carries the tagline “A vote for DAP is a vote for PAS” and urge Malaysians to vote instead for BN which it said represents “stability and prosperity.”
Rapp Malaysia, formerly Rapp Collins, is also part of Diversified Agency Services, under New York’s Omnicom Group Inc.
According to its website, Rapp is one of the biggest direct marketing networks with over 50 offices in 30 countries and dubs itself as not an advertising or marketing agency but a “customer experience agency.”