KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — For Datuk Seri Dr Hasmiza Othman, everything has a price tag, and her mission in life is to find out how much so she can stamp her brand on it.
Popularly known as Datuk Seri Vida or Dr Vida after her Ipoh-based cosmetics company Vida Beauty Sdn Bhd, Hasmiza has gained a name among Malay households nationwide for her sponsorships of TV shows with its tagline “Qu Puteh, Qu Puteh, barulah putih” that easily beats a tattoo into its viewers’ brains.
Her latest venture will take her business into the world of sports, following her high-profile two season sponsorship deal of the Kelantan football team, which will result in not only a name change to include the names of her two biggest selling products; health drink Pamoga and the skin whitening drink Qu Puteh, but see the state’s macho footballers and their home ground in bright Barbie pink.
“Pamoga Qu Puteh The Red Warriors! I can say that now, because they have agreed to it,” she exclaimed in a recent sit-down interview with Malay Mail Online.
While the 44-year-old Kelantan-born has received plenty of brickbats, many others too have hailed her as a master in marketing.
Brand recognition for her Qu Puteh products had gone viral after she reportedly spent over RM3 million to sponsor last year’s Anugerah Juara Lagu 29.
Hasmiza can also take pride in that despite a staff count of 150, not a single one is a marketing consultant because she prefers to market her products her own way.
“No no no,” she responded to suggestions of hiring one.
“I follow my heart and my instincts. With the experiences I have gone through in the business, consultants won’t understand what I am trying to do. They only know how to talk, and say what I want to do is illogical, so I don’t want consultants. I won’t pay other people for taglines,” she said.
That instinct that one might consider illogical would be the naming of her products, specifically Qu Puteh, which she explained derived from a law of attraction-type reasoning where users of the product would be wishing for fairness by the mere mention of the name which sounds like “aku putih” [“I am fair” in English) on top of drinking the product.
To Hasmiza, advertising and marketing is not about just plastering her name and face on things, but about creating a shock effect from appearing where she is least expected.
“I have been paying for advertisements since five years ago as a normal sponsor. But the advertisements just sit there, hitching a ride on people’s programmes,” she said.
“I had enough of that. People get sick of advertisements and they don’t watch it, so I decided to advertise in new ways, in entertainment, and soon, in sports.”
In all her branding exercises since giving up on conventional advertising, she said has to be unique and pioneering, having previously turned down an opportunity to advertise her brand on the side of a plane.
“I could afford it, but why should I? It has been done before, and people are used to it,” she said, without naming the airline that made the offer.
And her strategies have definitely been working out for her with her brand quickly becoming a household name, especially following her aforementioned sponsorship of the Kelantan Football Association that made headlines for her requests to change their jersey and stadium colours to pink on top of the name change.
She was reported to have said she was willing to spend up to RM20 million for the sponsorship, however when pressed to confirm, she refused to disclose the final amount before the deal is signed.
The deal saw her walking away with an added 33 more yet to be disclosed conditions for her sponsorship, and a position as honorary adviser to the association.
“The conditions are necessary for me, especially to ensure that the team is victorious at the same time to ensure success of my products,” she said.
“We need all the marketing, branding, popularity and victory to be a unified goal so it will push the Pamoga Qu Puteh The Red Warriors forward.”
And her marketing adventures are far from over.
After sports, she is now eyeing film production in the very near future, and products that would go hand in hand with her football sponsorship.
“Every time I try to market my brands, it is always with a purpose. I always try to get a new segment of society to recognise my products,” she said.
“I have funded TV shows and films in the past, but next I want my own film production house to produce its own films, and that would introduce me to a new market,” she added.
While others voice concern over the country’s economy wavering, Hasmiza is looking to expand her business. She is confident that her products will continue to sell through 2016 as it had through 2015.
“If the economy is slow, well then you have to wake it up. In these times when people are afraid to spend, I will ‘boom’ again with my appearance and people will continue to buy my products,” she said confidently.
She added that she never wanted to be in the limelight despite people criticising her now for chasing publicity.
She said she originally had approached many of her friends to be the face of her brand but they had convinced her that only her as the founder would have the sincerity for people to believe in the products.
Though she expressed fatigue of all criticisms and the photos she has to pose when she gets stopped by fans every time she leaves the house, she brushes it off, saying it was not too big a problem to face as she was aware of the cost of success.
“I hope that my products can be a legacy for my children to continue after me,” she said.
“I have to keep moving forward. These challenges all just the price of success.”