Ad man Vincent Lee gets rebutted over fake claim he initiated “Malaysia: Truly Asia” tagline

BARELY a week ago, Tan Sri Vincent Lee Fook Long, the honorary life president of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia (4A’s), came out in the open to bash Malaysian actor, dramatist, poet, author and former journalist Kee Thuan Chye for questioning why Malaysians are so ecstatic about Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh winning the Oscar.

Little did the man known as the driving force behind many high-profile brands in the market today knew that in so doing, he would be opening a can of worms or be made to eat humble pie by staking a false claim of him (or perhaps an agency associated with him) having started the “Malaysia Truely (sic) Asia” tagline.

Tan Sri Vincent Lee Fook Long (Pic credit: Facebook)

His misdeed of ‘over-zealously’ defending Ipoh-born Yeoh that she deserved the fame bestowed upon her contrary to the ‘attack’ by Kee has forced integrated marketing services agency ISC International Sdn Bhd to come out in the open to set the record straight as the true creator of “Malaysia: Truly Asia”.

“Malaysia’s advertising and marketing communications industry is again abuzz over false claims made regarding the origin of “Malaysia: Truly Asia,” – a falsehood made worse by invoking the name of its long-serving brand ambassador, TS Michelle Yeoh, at a time when she – and all Malaysians – should be allowed to bask without distraction in the full glory of her Oscar triumph,” ISC International pointed out in a recent statement.

The agency which claimed to be contracted by Tourism Malaysia from 1999 through 2010 further attached documentation “of the irrefutable and undeniable fact” that it was the one and sole agency that conceived, developed, produced, launched and rolled out the iconic and multi-award-winning “Malaysia: Truly Asia” campaign in its entirety during four contract periods.

“They covered the tenures of no less than four tourism ministers – Tan Sri Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, Datuk Seri Leo Michael Toyad, Tengku Datuk Seri Adnan Tengku Mansor and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said – all of whom could bear witness to this fact,” revealed ISC International.

“Moreover, ISC’s forerunner Malaysian agency AMC also served Tourism Malaysia’s ‘parent’ minister, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, in the 1980s when it conceived the-then national tourism proposition ‘To Know Malaysia is to Love Malaysia’ – along with its memorable signature tune – prior to its conceptualisation of ‘Malaysia: Truly Asia’ in 1999.”

Commenting further about the kerfuffle, Austen Zecha, the founder and CEO of ISC and its forerunner AMC – Malaysia’s No. 1 agency from 1987-1992 – took it all in stride when he described the entire episode as “so much fuss about a non-issue, really”.

“But why bring in a Malaysian icon’s name to buttress and perpetuate an industry lie? In essence, fact is fact, truth is truth, but why would another agency founder again bring the bizarre false claim about having started ‘Malaysia: Truly Asia’ in a story about TS Michelle Yeoh’s incredible Oscar win?” he asked. – March 19, 2023

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