What's Your Penang?


Penang Global Tourism’s new international campaign launched in the Lion City.

A LONG TIME AGO, I was standing on a London tube platform watching rats scurry under the rails. Something caught the edge of my eye, a vaguely familiar beach scene on a giant billboard where the shapes of the rocks and the hills all triggered off tiny electric currents in me. I looked up and realised that the expanse of tropical paradise stretched along the grimy tunnel was part of a tourism campaign for Penang.

Golden beaches, turquoise sea and blue skies, all the prerequisite visual clichés stared back at me. I remember feeling rage quickly descend. “This is a lie! This is a lie!” I wanted to hysterically scream at commuters. Thousands of miles away from Penang on a drab winter’s day I was confronted with a caricature of the home I was sorely missing; my happy memories clouded by lazy advertising trickery. “Damn you, Tourism Malaysia,” I grumbled as I shuffled to work.

Branding Penang

Admittedly, destination branding is not an easy undertaking and previous att empts to brand Penang internationally have all been quickly forgotten.

But now, Penang Global Tourism (PGT) is att empting to change this with its inaugural tourism promotion campaign – “My Penang, My Experience” – recently launched in Singapore.

According to PGT managing director Ooi Geok Ling, “The campaign not only aims to put Penang on the world travel map but also to validate the ‘Penang pride’ felt by its residents and Penangites living abroad.” The first series of images in the campaign emphasises George Town’s Unesco World Heritage listing, its cultural pluralism, its colours and its people.

The new campaign makes Penangites the real stars of the show and not a gaggle of cloned Citrawarna dancers. It’s a campaign that touches the heart; if I had seen it all those years ago in London it would have brought tears to my eyes… just as it does now.

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