Malaysia’s ‘Maxis SOS Network’ a Lifeline for Flood Victims – Branding in Asia Magazine

Monday 14th, March 2016

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Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong has teamed with leading Malaysian communications network Maxis, to launch a portable communications device that allows people to call for help when power supplies or cellular activity has been affected during heavy monsoon rains and flooding.

Xerago comment: This seems like a great corporate social responsibility idea. With global warming and climate change, the last few years have seen severe weather patterns in many parts of the world. The tsunami that struck many parts of Asia a decade ago, the periodic forest/bush fires in Indonesia and Australia and the floods that struck parts of India are all examples when people are cut off from emergency assistance and relief supplies.

The SOS device is safe, reliable and easy to use and can be set up within minutes in a flood-affected area, which provides an interim solution until normal telecoms infrastructure is restored.

Xerago comment: Telecom infrastructure along with electricity are the two infrastructure facilities that typically crumble first in the event of a calamity. By and large, most people have had to improvise when faced with an emergency situation. We’ve all heard stories of friends who switched on their phones just to send an emergency message or walked for miles to find a functioning data network.

Execution involved designing weather-proof boxes that consist of multiple ‘mesh nodes’ and a battery, router and antenna. The nodes are specifically designed to be placed on the rooftops of houses and buildings in affected areas, connecting with each other to form a mesh communications network.

Xerago comment: The big marketing challenge for Maxis is to get customers to appreciate the value of such a device and invest in one. Human nature being what it is, most people will ignore things unless affected by a calamity. Another category that is similarly perceived is insurance, where the death of a family member or friend typically gets a person to think about insurance.

All smartphones are then able to connect to the SOS ‘wifi’ network regardless of service provider, allowing users to send messages unhindered within the area. Only a few mesh nodes are needed to cover an area of several square kilometers. The battery in each node lasts for one week and can be recharged via solar, generator, mains or car battery.

Xerago comment: This strikes us as a laudable initiative. Often, companies are loath to give up opportunities for branding or to paint themselves as do-gooders. It must’ve been a tough call for Maxis to take. However, they seem to have done the sensible thing by allowing customers using other service providers to log into the SOS wi-fi network. What most companies need to learn is that at such times, customers need every possible help they can get. There is no room for selfishness or chest-thumping by companies. Any positive impact that such moves create will only have a long-term rub-off on the brand.

Rafael Guida, Executive Creative Director, OglivyOne Hong Kong said, “Extreme weather often cripples power supplies and cellular activity, preventing people from calling for help or telling loved ones they are safe. The Maxis SOS Network is simple but highly effective and taps into Ogilvy’s digital and technological expertise. We are extremely proud of this product and would like to see this communications device help more potential people in need.”

Check out the campaign video:


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