Ideas For Export – The Next Malaysian Frontier
Reading Ted Fishman’s best-seller China Inc recently was a revelation to me. It confirmed in great detail what was actually already apparent to me and many others interested in following global business (after all, it affects us all). China’s dominance of manufacturing has altered the balance of global trade and helped fuel its huge economy. And Fishman illustrates how easily China’s low-cost ‘positioning’ is currently unbeatable.
I once directed a documentary for the Malaysian government on SMEs (small-medium enterprises) and while we championed what the government was doing, many factory owners I spoke to mentioned how hard it was to compete against Chinese rivals that offer a cost way below what they could offer. And in business, cost is always the bottom line with clients.
My friends at Strategicom, Wilson Chew and Jacky Tai have mentioned how crucial branding is in such a situation (citing Intel as a prime example). But can this really be practised by so many manufacturers competing in the same industry?
Anyway, I’ve realised one thing long ago: it is a lot easier to export when you’re in the business of content creation. As Malaysians, we don’t really have to worry about cost. Good, compelling ideas for documentaries will always have the interest of global marketplace financing. Provided they are well-produced. We need look no further than Singapore, whose Media Development Authority and Film Commission are active in helping local companies produce documentaries and films, for export. Even Bollywood has stopped creating films for just the viast diaspora of Indians worldwide. Many people love unique Bollywood films in their own right.
But tiny Singapore is now producing documentaries in HD with worldwide sales agenting being carried out by eager and experienced distributors. Films like Forever Fever and 2000 AD have even gained distribution in the US.
Malaysians should start thinking that this is possible and join the race too. Good branding will definitely be important so production companies have to keep this in mind. But let’s get our ideas out there and show the world that Malaysia is Truly Asia (to paraphrase our Tourism Ministry) and that we can add our unique stamp for the world to discover.