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Breaking the tried-and-tested mould of emotional ads this National Day

We know with National Day just around the corner, brands will be showing off their pride and patriotism with campaigns. With the flood of ads this period generally brings in, some can get washed away. Over the years, some notable common themes surrounding National Day circle around diversity, inclusivity and paying homage to national heroes. Others play up the emotional ties and the nation’s history.

But instead of touching on the usual themes of nation, home and racial harmony, brands could explore the idea of creating content that has a completely different angle, yet remains relevant to the brand as well as its products or services, Farrokh Madon, chief creative officer, Wunderman Thompson told Marketing.

Rather than look back on the last 200 years of Singapore’s history as the nation celebrates its bicentennial year, it will be far more unique for brands to look at where Singapore would be in the next 200 years – potentially including the brand’s evolution as part of the future. This, Madon says, would be “a great way” to integrate the brand’s values with the values of Singapore.

Adding on to the point, Valerie Madon, chief creative officer, Havas Southeast Asia said that while emotional ads have always been effective and powerful, it is still important for brands to consider how their messages differ from others.

For example, when Malaysian oil and gas company PETRONAS launched a short film titled “Tan Hong Ming” for Merdeka Day back in 2008, it did not rely on big budgets, celebrities or great production to leave an impression. Even though, it managed to drive a “timeless and highly appropriate message” for the occasion.

More critical than the execution, brands have to spend more time strategising the “powerful and meaningful” message that will make people remember and thank the brand for, Madon explained.

Take some risks

That said, the key to making an impact in consumers’ lives and cutting through the clutter, however, is risk-taking – which the best brands and campaigns worldwide do. While there might be instances where clients request to execute a similar concept they have seen and linked, she said it is a creative’s duty to highlight to clients that the result could look and sound similar to everyone else’s.

She added:

If clients are unprepared to take risks, creatives need to lend a helping hand in finding a difference they can own.

“Being safe doesn’t mean you have to be the same,” she explained.

Mervyn Chan, executive creative director at independent agency TMRW also took it a step further urging clients to create campaigns “that makes the audiences uncomfortable, yet urges them to discuss a pertinent matter in today’s society”.

“Instead from creating that warm feeling with brand messages, how about making people just a little uncomfortable with the things they have or are taking for granted? Exploring themes that make them sit up a bit and talk to each other about; start meaningful dialogues,” he explained.

Chan added that brands also have to inch away from the familiar “home” territory and potentially explore various avenues of incorporating the idea of “home” in their campaigns. This can be done by exploring how home is different for various Singaporeans, for example. He added:

More representation will mean there are more stories to tell, equally creating more connections with your audiences.

Be authentic

At the end of the day, be it emotional, nostalgic or daring, what matters is whether or not the brand has created the campaign, while staying authentic to its role in the Singapore landscape, said Chris Chiu, group chief creative officer, DDB Group Singapore.

“Brands need to identify their purpose in serving Singaporeans and express it through creative executions,” he explained. He added that while cutting through the clutter, it is also crucial to ensure that the tonality of the campaign is relevant to the brand and that it is executed respectfully.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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