What started out as seemingly one in a million localised meme pages on Facebook has since grown into something of a media powerhouse.
And since we last spoke to them at their launch, the page has shot up to 437k followers, and continues to grow to this day.
Following a funding round that went into Hepmil Media Group—who run both SGAG, a Singaporean meme site as well as MGAG—to the tune of SG$1.3m, we got in touch with this team of meme makers who have seemingly found a formula to Malaysians hearts, or at least, their share buttons on Facebook.
Mun Yee, the country lead, revealed to us that the team comes in from all walks of life—from engineers, food scientists, to even psychology majors.
And despite any assumptions we may have made, not all of them had a mass communications or advertising background.
“But what we have in common is that we are all content creators in our own capacity. We are all a little ‘sot’ or gila and don’t take life too seriously.”
To get a creative team together that can effectively impact your average Malaysian, the MGAG team actually watches the social media space to see what content creators are doing and then move to get them on board.
Now 6-member strong, this team of mid-20s millennials do a lot more than what you’d assume is the “normal” job scope.
“So someone who makes memes can hold the camera and do basic editing. And it is also expected that everyone can clean the bathroom when the need arises,” said Mun Yee.
Speaking about their memeing process, the creatives are generally left to do their own thing. As long as they avoid sensitive topics like politics, religion and sex, they can draw inspiration anywhere, from their parents, to bad traffic, to the ever-popular petrol hikes.
Other than that, they do quite a bit of research into making memes or planning videos, to ensure that they aren’t recycling any jokes, and that they’re on board with the current trends.
Mun Yee insisted that the emphasis was never on the number of followers, as high as they are now.
“Sure it’s nice, it’s important for so many reasons but ultimately we wanted to make things that we love. To create content that we are proud to show off and have our faces on it.”
MGAG started small in 2015 and only became a team of 3 in 2016.
“The music video did well we believe because it is really encompasses the spirit of 1Malaysia. It is something that everyone can relate to as we covered songs in all the main languages, we use very local references and current issues that are happening around the country.”
One of the main concerns that come from running sites and creative content like similar to MGAG: are they a one-trick pony? A one-hit wonder?
There is a certain art to achieving success, and even Mun Yee admits that the video definitely put them on the map—a wacky idea that they wanted to try.
But after gaining attention comes phase 2: maintaining that attention. After all, we can think of everyone from YouTubers to Instagrammers that crack after flying high—either from running out of creative juices, or just being unable to retain the fanbase they managed to sign on in the first place.
This is a fear that is often emphasised by Mun Yee during our interview with the team. As a country lead, Mun Yee constantly pushes the team to be on their toes.
Comfort is not an option for them.
Mun Yee thinks that they have a rough idea of what the audience wants, but she wants to ensure that they innovate, and try new things instead of just nesting.
“We also try to avoid getting caught up in the fame and limelight. The team also roleplays as the characters in the videos i.e. ABCDE, Shid, Uncle Siu Mai and Asian Mum but we do not see ourselves as influencers.”
“We also stay away from using clickbaits like girls in low cut tops or hunks because we truly believe that characters are secondary if your content is strong. If anything we made it a point to make the characters plain and interchangeable so that anyone can play the role.”
In fact, if Mun Yee is to be believed, their meme standards are quite high–above 9000 even (Okay, old meme, but I stand by it).
“I think to be good, we should never lose the plot. We never make content for the sake of making it. If we don’t love it collectively, it doesn’t get published. We have the strictest QC procedures so we ensure that every piece of work is amazing—both paid and organic.”
This is all to serve MGAG’s very simple motto: Make every Malaysian’s day a better one.
“We understand that Malaysia is a very segregated country so we are trying to achieve that 1Malaysia concept that many preach but is actually super challenging to achieve.”
With a steady stream of clients coming in to advertise with MGAG, it’s more important than ever for the team to balance between organic content and delivering for their clients’ needs.
“It prevents ad fatigue one but above all, it keeps the team sane as it is always nice to do something just out of love rather than to fulfill a client’s needs.”
With the funding, MGAG hopes to expand the team and experiment with other content formats.
Of course, this is after more manpower and equipment comes in.
But other than that, the team actually hopes to eventually plan offline activities such as sports tournaments or rave parties, as a way to retain the engagement they already have with their fans.
As for remaining relevant, MGAG does a lot of social listening. This basically means trawling the internet to see what everyone else is doing, and see how they can repurpose this for Malaysian eyes.
Having SGAG around to bounce ideas and analytics off certainly helps their operating procedure as well.
Other than that, it’s all about constant checks and balances.
Leaving off, Mun Yee concluded by saying, “I think that MGAG in 5 years might not be the MGAG that you see today but the core value of creating great content will not change and that will ensure that the brand remains timeless.”
It looks like all fun and games for MGAG on this side of the screen, but the team puts in a lot of thoughtful effort, and careful strategising into transforming “viral topics” into localised memes.
They’re certainly not the first to do it, but they’ve definitely found a formula to get attention.
Feature Image Credit: MGAG