With a market share of well over 33% in 2015, Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua (PERODUA) is the largest car company in Malaysia by units sold. Borne to a time where many established brands have cemented their stronghold in the country, it took a painstaking but skilfully crafted decade for the privately-held company – literally translated as “the second automobile manufacturer” – to overcome protectionist trade measure and overtake others to become the best-selling automaker for the tenth consecutive year in Malaysia as of 2015.
In a region where car-making and the vertical industries are sine qua non and are, often times, subject to policy-making in the countries, Perodua stood out as a privately-funded company. The operations are underpinned and funded by several Japanese auto behemoths that make up close to 50% of the shareholding structure in its manufacturing arm.
Though closing in on an average of 50,000 in quarterly order book in 2015, and far from being woefully under-financed like other competitors, Perodua still saw a fair share of trouble in paradise: the automaker was often likened to other similar government-linked companies (GLC’s), and unsavoury policy changes in the country. Media owners often muse over slivers of unrest set in motion by many GLC’s, and Perodua was often seen as a collateral damage as a result.
While facing public ire against the notion of “guilty by association”, Perodua recognised the importance of a balancing act, and managing expectations in media perception. At the initial stage, Perodua engaged Isentia in the content notification service, but slowly saw the need to engage a full-fledged media content analysis. The upgrade was intended for only one purpose: To effectively identify Perodua’s “friendlies” and “hostiles” in the media environment. The analysis parameters were simple: Perodua would be benchmarked against competitors, in terms of media sentiment.
To shed light on the growth path and trajectory of the client, Isentia closed in from several key focal points in:
To establish a timeline of all of the focal points above and with an end goal in mind, Isentia’s analysis team carefully designed a comprehensive framework that suits the client’s need.
Phase 1 – Isolating key issues in trends or historical studies, for Perodua and competitors. This enabled touchpoints and irregularities being identified. Hypotheses and different scenarios were regularly presented at the early stage to the client to identify all possible implications and combinations. This was carried out in several sub-phases, including fine-tuning the deliverables periodically;
Phase 2 – Identifying key messages in editorials, especially in leading media outlets. Editorial components like messages, spokespersons and influencers, etc., were identified as the main media drivers in the automotive industry;
Phase 3 – Charting a roadmap for a better value proposition for not just the client, but for the industry as well. Simple, straight-forward monthly findings were shared with client where all challenges were being highlighted, and actionable insights derived.
A Good Year for the Industry – Share of Voice charts show the healthy improvement in sentiments over time, for Perodua and competitors. Left chart indicates data collated between January – June 2014, and data for July – December 2015 is reflected on the right chart.
Cleaning Up Roles and Who’s Who – Perodua is fully aware that influencers speak volume. Over time, they tighten spokespersons appearances and control messages being relayed to the public. Left chart indicates data collated between January – June 2014, and left chart indicates data collated between July – December 2015.
Are Industry Critics Renegades? Perodua and competitors faced a sea of criticism from prominent journalists as indicated in the left cloud, for the data period between January – June 2014. The right cloud – which represents the data period between July – December 2015 – shows an improvement in cutting down industry critics.
With its fervent focus on products and services and distancing itself from drastic policy-drafting, Perodua has adopted a neutral, nonpartisan approach in the media. Contextually, unlike others, Perodua is privately-held, with less government interference in its day-to-day business-making decisions. But it still saw a fair share of critics by being a national company – in a nation where i) state-controlled assets are almost impossible to go under the radar, and ii) the media are more reactive rather than proactive.
Perodua knew the issues were bigger than just the car industry itself: With the advent of various regional treaties in place, the additional taxation, etc., the automotive sector – like any other heavy industries – pivots on trade agreements that affect all players on a regional scale. With a full-fledged media content analysis onboard, Perodua was able to characterise the flashpoints in media reactions, and cut down the room for margin of errors in the process.
Different faculties of thinking and reasoning, allegiances, target-centric interests, etc., all played pivotal roles across different media outlets, to their respective demographics. The backbone of it all – as observed by the client – was a well-crafted and timely editorial to address the trending concerns by the general public. As the audit has shown, Perodua would play no blame game. Instead of putting up a defensive mode, Perodua saw the underlying need to dress up the entire industry for public consumption, which would ultimately shape a healthier interaction between the media, policy makers, and general consumers.
Perodua’s Head of Media Relations and Corporate Communications Ahmad Tamimi Omar shared:
“Consistency in the story is the key. We engage media 3-4 times a year, and have been strategising events based on past strategies. It is a requisite for us to understand past trends better in order to facilitate a smoother media engagement. Isentia’s analysis report at first shed lights on several unfavourable coverages, and we welcomed that. We pivoted around the weak links and now, we have a healthier dialogue with the main carriers and drivers of our coverage.”