Bringing Malaysian Icon to the world

By AMRITA VALECHA | 21 December, 2009 - 16:03

Having produced the first and the biggest 3D feature film in Malaysia, Geng, Burhanuddhin B. Md. Radzi from Les Copaque Production spoke on how he actually brought the local icon to the world.

In Malaysia, the film has the 2nd highest box office collection making RM 6.3 million and 800,000 viewers, and the most discussed local movie on blog, it was on the local cinema chain for 2 months, shown in Brunei and Indonesia. As of October 2008, two seasons of Upin & Ipin had been aired, both during the Islamic month of Ramadan in the years 2007 and 2008, on TV9in Malaysia and TPI in Indonesia. The first season of Upin & Ipin had been picked up by Hilal TV in Turkey, dubbed in Turkish for broadcast. The show debuted in Disney Channel Asia dubbed in English language in November 2009 as part of So Syok! Holidays of Disney Channel. In February 2009, the show was extended to the big screen under the name "Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula" (Gang: The Adventure Begins). It will also premier in India by the January 2010 and currently the dubbing is going on. Les Copaque is currently working on season 3 of the series.

So what behind this success?

Sharing the journey of the success of Upin and Ipin, Burhanuddhin said, "I am not in the animation industry, I am an engineer myself. Three graduates from animation came to me by the end of 2005 and they wanted to produce the first 3D animation film, but getting into this industry was very risky it required a lot of money and time. Trusting my wife's instincts I produced the film."

Initially Upin Ipin was made keeping in mind Malaysia as the target audience. In 2006 the company went to MDeC to break in to the global market. "Everyone says to break in to the global market your product must look global, but no body answers what is global."

In 2007, the studio attended various markets all over the world to see the kind of content which is available. The team went to Mipcom and MipTv in Cannes, CICAF in China and SICAF in Korea. "In the end we concluded there is no specific formula to break in to the international market. What we believe is that local hit is the most important before there is a chance to hit outside the country." He shared.

Burhanuddhin B. Md Radzi shared, "When we went to MIPCOM and saw 100 of properties, it all looked the same. At Les Copaques we believed that the image must be different from what is in the market. When we got our Geng trailer, the detailing is what was so attractive to many people. Our strategy was to target the Malay fans as the main thrust of our product. Islamic content was a safe bet to penetrate in to this market, and secondly we want our content which could attract the children and parents as well."

The studio planned to create 6 episodes X 5 mins series. The story line was carefully written with simple dialogues for children and wisdom of elders with deploying catchy tagline to attract audience. The show was uploaded on Youtube where it received a lot of hits. It was also picked up by the Indonesian blogger.

"In 2008, we continued doing the movie and made one more 12 episode X 5 mins series.
The previous year the show was seen in Turkey and Indonesia. The story expanded to include their friends and Islamic content was maintained. Pirated VCD also made huge success."

"In 2009 we were like the show can be marketed internationally. Every one said Islamic content has a limited market. So we decided to make the story more universal, maintaining the basic value. We needed to change the format to 7 mins so that we can slate 3 episodes for half and hr show. Our marketing strategy also differed from one country to another. In Malaysia we went to TV station to pitch per episode and in Indonesia we got a partner to market it. In Turkey, we sold the right.

Les Copaque made the most of Upin and Ipin's popularity. Adverts for Geng, the film was embedded in the series. They had a bater deal with RTM, where there produced an advert for the channel, and got free advertising on their channel. We used Upin and Ipin to pull the crowd and used mascot for ground event. We got the mascot to the cinema at the first week of Geng in the local cinemas and even Mc Donald was angry as the masses blocked their restaurant entrance.

Automatically merchandise business was developed. He concluded by sharing his future plans, "We are trying to develop a theme park and food products ( Upin and Ipin snack) and also games for primary school where they can learn maths through the characters".

Truly a global icon!