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J. Walter Thompson’s Laojee campaign honoured with Sumathi Commercial of The Year Award

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Laojee Team with their agency J. Walter Thompson Sri Lanka posing with their Sumathi Award for Commercial of the Year


In the backdrop of building ethnic tension in 2017, Unilever’s Laojee commercial chose to tackle the issue of race with a moving depiction of inter-racial marriage and family acceptance; turning a divisive moment in time into an opportunity for Sri Lankans to come together. 

The 90 seconds film garnered tremendous response from Sri Lankans offline and online. The video achieved one million views in less than 55 hours creating history for the brand. In a time where social media was dominated by extremist viewpoints, the Laojee commercial created for Sri Lankans a platform for healthy discussion on race and religion. 

Unilever Brand Manager Yashan Navaratnam commenting on the award said, “Sharing a cup of tea has always been a symbol of acceptance in Sri Lanka and for the last 20 years we have positioned Laojee as the “The brew that bonds” which was about people coming together. But this time around we knew the brand was ready to carry a deeper message of acceptance and tolerance. So, we went beyond the ordinary and went where no local brand had gone before by addressing a local tension point to bring a sense of unity among Sri Lankan consumers.”

Explaining the film execution, J. Walter Thompson Creative Director Prageeth Maniyanagama remarked, “The intensity and sensitivity of the subject matter had to be balanced with the use of a singular emotion of love that cuts across race and religion. Everyone relates to overlooking cultural barriers when in love, this is how we chose to build relatability on the subject of race and ethnicity. We are immensely proud in how the film was received by Sri Lankans of all races and we are inspired by the courage of our clients to push boundaries with our work and change perceptions.”

J. Walter Thompson CEO Alyna Haji Omar shed light on the company’s ambition, “Sri Lanka is changing more rapidly than the projections in the media lead us to believe. People are yearning for an alternative point of view, the popularity of social media for news and information in this country is a testament to that fact. We have invested considerable resources in understanding this shift and we are excited to be reimagining Sri Lanka for our partner brands. The Laojee film is a march forward in the right direction.”

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