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44 CNY ads. 48 Raya ads. Guess how many ads Deepavali got in 2023?

Happy Deepavali!

Earlier this year, we came up with the idea to force a writer to watch each and every Chinese New Year ad that was released, and list their favorites. It wasn’t because we thought it would do well, we just thought it’d be funny making someone spend a whole day watching ads.

We watched a total of 44 ads for CNY (which took about 4 hours to watch) and our followup Raya one had 48 ads.

And for Deepavali, our newest colleague Shiebnaa was given a formal Cilisos welcome by being volunteered to watch them.

Shiebnaa, our Deepavali ad-watching volunteer

This is Shiebnaa, still smiling because she hasn’t joined Cilisos yet.

We gave her the same instructions – watch all the ads back-to-back, sleep on it, and note down which ones lit her diya when she woke up in the morning. The list of ads were collected only on YouTube, with the cut-off time being Thursday, November 9th.

Unfortunately for us (and to Shiebnaa’s relief), this article would have been titled “We forced our writer to watch 13 Deepavali ads. Here are her top 13”. Yep. We could only find 13 Deepavali ads. 

Think of that how you will, but here’s our list of top 13 Deepavali ads because there were only 13.


1. Maxis – This Deepavali: Would You Take the First Step to Reconnect?

Unlike many ads that dramatize the meaning of reconnecting with loved ones, even through a phone call, Maxis kept it real by asking people if there was a person they wished to reconnect with. After giving the answers these people were asked to make the call, and the results are onion-chopping ninjas.

Although there’s no particular order to this list, this ad is Shiebnaa’s personal top pick:

I bawled my eyes out while watching this ad. What made this special was how they made them call the person. It was truly emotional, and I personally think it would make the viewer want to call their loved ones and reconnect.


2. Astro Ulagam – Maranthalum Maraiyatha Ninaivugal (Unforgettable Memories)

This story is a simple one about a man helping an older lady home, only for the plot to reveal that she has Alzheimer’s and he’s actually her son. It’s a pretty cookie (murukku?) cutter plot twist that you’d see in many festive ads – especially if you’ve watched close to 100 of them this year.

However, what makes this stand out is that the dialogue and acting brings a deeper meaning of preserving memories through culture, and it actually has a happy ending.

I loved how it ended with the mom remembering the son because personally I CANNOT TAHAN SAD ENDINGS *cries*  


3. Toyota Malaysia – The Essence of Deepavali

Toyota Malaysia demonstrates that you don’t need top-tier acting, intricate plotlines, or 7-minute long minidramas to make a good ad:

The ad perfectly symbolized the colours of Deepavali, not the literal colours but more of how festive it is. The way it started off with completing the Rangoli and switched to the Rangoli coming to life, bringing colour wherever it goes… mind blown.

Every part of Deepavali (food, music, traditional attire) was shown, summarising the celebration in the simplest way possible. Such a beautiful and well thought ad. 


4. Mr. DIY – Maya’s Unspoken Wish

Deepavali is a celebration of light, good, and knowledge. And this ad tells the story of a young schoolgirl who cuts off and donates her hair after seeing a poster for cancer survivor wigs. However, Shiebnaa says there’s also a cultural undertone to the video:

Usually, Indian families get a little skeptical when their daughters want to have short hair. The way the girl is portrayed to take a courageous step at her age, especially during a festivity, is very admirable.


5. Astro Ulagam – Kondaduvom Semmaiyaga Kondaduvom

Ordinarily, if a company puts up more than one ad, we’ll just pick one to feature. But when there are 13, Astro makes the list again with their Deepavali music video.

From a simple storyline between a mother and daughter, to a whole tamil movie dance sequence. I LOVED EVERY BIT OF IT. It beautifully portrays how festivities bring people together.

Being someone who celebrates Deepavali and obviously watches a lot of Tamil movies, the whole thing brings so much excitement to the celebration. And I thoroughly enjoyed seeing so many amazing Malaysian Indian celebrities and influencers together.


6. The Chicken Rice Shop – TCRS DeLIGHTful Koli

The Chicken Rice Shop definitely wins the catchiest jingle hands wings down. Yes, the main message is their Deepavali chicken dish but that song is catchy dei.

Honestly if my family’s not planning on making chicken this year, I’d just tapau a bucket load of the chicken they advertised.


7. Air Selangor – Murukku Mella Kirukku

Funnily enough, Air Selangor has not turned on the waterworks at all this year. Instead their CNY and Raya ads tend to gravitate towards a feel-good, cutesy vibe. And that really delivered with their Deepavali ad, using murukku to bring a family together – quirks and all.

Taking the typical “it’s that time of the year to make muruku” concept and putting a twist to it was really smart. The way the children stepped in when their mom needed them, and the way the mom accepted the tiny differences was heartwarming. To be honest, as long as the muruku tastes delicious, I’d even enjoy the random heart shaped muruku with 0 complaints. 


8. RHB – Shining a Light

This is a cute one. It’s basically an interview asking kids how much they know about Deepavali. The kids are adorable, and the video is super educational.

If the goal here was to educate viewers on Deepavali, I think RHB achieved it. I also liked the ending where they got the kids to do a kolam together. It really brings out the message of unity in diversity. 


9. Perodua – Time Well Spent

This is a straightforward ad which highlights how the payoff exceeds the time spent on preparation. We think the subtext here is that while, yes, it applies to festive celebrations, it also applies to making sure your car is ready for long road trips.

It was a very short and straight-forward video. I liked the countdown concept but I would have liked it more if it incorporated more of the things we do on Deepavali.


10. BOH Tea – Sip into Deepavali with BOH

This is a weird one. It’s got a matchmaking drama, time slipping (shoutout to anyone watching Loki Season 2), and a dramatic dad character. Not entirely sure what it has to do with Deepavali, but it’s a fun watch nevertheless. If BOH was looking to avoid any Deepavali tropes, they succeeded with flying kolams.

The only way someone would have known it’s a Deepavali ad was when one of the characters said, “People usually come to the house during Deepavali to eat, but you came to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage.”


11. Taylor’s University – Not for Rent

Taylor’s University took a risk with this one, addressing racism and discrimination in a Deepavali ad. The story revolves around Chandran, an Indian man who’s unable to rent a house due to his race, and is forced to refer to himself as “Chan” in order to get a house viewing.

While the Youtube comments indicate that many viewers liked the video, some may prefer to focus on more positive sentiments during Deepavali.

It’s an important issue to be tackled, but I would prefer to just be happy during the festivities at least. Watching the ad just fuels the anger in me and, although it has a happy ending, that’s not the reality of it, yet. 

But hey, at least Taylor’s did it with sensitivity, unlike a certain other ad from a big pharmacy chain that caught a bunch of flak for coming off as mocking Indians.


12. Sunway Group – Glowing Beyond Horizons

Unlike most ads that are POVs of grownups or families, Sunway’s ad focuses mainly on children. It’s a nice touch because we tend to enjoy celebrations the most as kids, and quite honestly, ideas of race and religion didn’t matter. The story involves kids of different races making use of digital services to celebrate Deepavali with their sick friend.

The only thing we knocked points off for is the last 30 seconds which has a weird montage that comes off as a corporate video.

It was really sweet when the friends came over to pay her a visit and helped her parents with the Deepavali preparations. Then again, the ending with random pictures and information seemed like a business advertisement.


13. Courts Malaysia – Gempak Deepavali

Well… uhm… the production seemed pretty rushed, but we can at least give Courts credit for putting up a Deepavali ad.

I’m probably not the right target audience for this



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