#MARKiesAwards 2021 case study: Gov.sg lends voice to unsung heroes in COVID-19 fight

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the news cycle and while news reports have been fact-based, human interest stories and coverage about frontline heroes as well as others working behind the scenes to tackle the pandemic were not as prominent. Hence, Gov.sg worked with Viddsee to tell the stories of frontline workers, public service officials and private citizens working hard to see the country through the latest crisis.

Its digital campaign led Gov.sg and Viddsee to win bronze for Most Creative – Government Sector/Non-Profit Marketing at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's recent MARKies Awards 2021.

Challenge

Sentiment towards the Singapore government’s role in curbing the spread of COVID-19 might have been positive. However, research by Viddsee showed that there was still scepticism or criticism particularly when it came to issues such as the handling of foreign workers. While a majority of the news reports during this period were fact-based, human interest stories, particularly of those working behind the scenes, were not as prevalent.

Hence, Gov.sg worked with Viddsee to provide transparency, promote solidarity, and celebrate the work of both public service officials and private citizens in protecting the country from further harm caused by the pandemic.

In speaking with various government ministries and agencies, the team also uncovered key stories that showed how public service officials and citizens worked together to help Singapore through these difficult times. Based on this, Gov.sg and Viddsee selected and craft the stories with the following narrative considerations:

Relatable: The team wanted to tell a story that Singaporeans can identify with, grounding the audience to the reality of the situation with moments of panic and uncertainty.

Response: The story should have a cathartic moment of realising the significance of the situation and the selflessness to push on and make things happen.

Reflection: The film would end with an emotional side of the subject’s story, offering an opportunity for the viewer to reflect on their work and sacrifice.

Together, Gov.sg and Viddsee came up with the “As One” campaign in conjunction with Public Service Week 2020.

Strategy

The digital campaign was led by a series of four docu-dramas that revealed how public officers and Singaporeans worked closely together to help communities and businesses, save jobs, and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The docu-dramas would draw in the viewers through the emotional tension created by the dramatisation of events that were based on factual, first-person testimonies of the subjects involved. Four local filmmakers were engaged to direct the films to create a variety of tone and approach for each story: K. Rajagopal, Tariq Mansor, Jonathan Choo, and Ellie Ngim.

“In safe hands” was directed by K. Rajagopal and followed the journey of two Ministry of Manpower officers who worked closely together with other agencies and NGOs, to care for the wellbeing of resident migrant workers at the dormitories, allowing them to return to work safely

Tariq Mansor director “Enjoy your stay” which highlighted the role of a Singapore Tourism Board officer who worked closely with hotels to enable their conversion into stay-home-notice dedicated facilities. This allowed overseas Singaporeans to return home safely. The officer and her team also provided assistance to those serving out their SHNs.

“Making the call” was directed by Jonathan Choo who spotlighted the inspiring story of how a team of public officers from the Ministry of Social and Family Development , the Institute of Mental Health, and other public agencies, came together with volunteer psychologists, counsellors, and social workers from the private and community sectors to set up the National CARE Hotline at short notice. The hotline helps individuals cope with the emotional and psychological toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ellie Ngim directed “Open for business” which focused on the considerations that gave rise to the SafeEntry system. The team from GovTech worked closely with businesses to create the system that has enabled Singapore to reopen its economy safely and save jobs.

Overall, the campaign aimed to highlight the challenges and thoughts about being in the public service during COVID-19. It also touched on the relationships forged between both public service officials and members of the public in containing the spread of the virus.

At the same time, the campaign also hoped to foster solidarity between Singaporeans through recognising the work of those who helped save businesses and communities during the pandemic. The “As One” campaign was targeted at Singaporeans, with 25 to 44 year olds forming 75% of the target audience. The campaign aimed to hit two million views for the series and 50 social influencer submissions.

The films were published on Gov.sg’s and Viddsee’s websites, as well as the latter’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Supporting this campaign was “Through Your Lens”, a social media initiative that encouraged Singaporeans to share their personal journeys and show their appreciation for the people who have helped them through the pandemic.

Execution

The “As One” campaign had three main parts, beginning first with the four docu-dramas. Next was “As One People”, a featurette extension that features public officers and members of the public sharing their thoughts, experiences, and inspirations.

“Through Your Lens” also sought to encourage Singaporeans to share their personal journeys and show their appreciation for the people who have helped them through the pandemic. The films were launched with an online press conference, and promoted on social media channels as well as Viddsee’s homepage.

Social media engagement via “Through Your Lens” encouraged Singaporeans to share stories using an Instagram and Facebook template, highlighting people who have helped them overcome a challenge, have served as invisible heroes, have earned their respect in 2020, and will motivate them until the end of 2020.

Mainstream and micro-influencers across different ethnicities also helped in seeding and kickstarted the activation on their social platforms.

Results

The campaign resulted in 4.7 million total views with over 6.4 million total reach. The “Through Your Lens” social media campaign received 579 public submissions, generating 1.5 million impressions.

According to Viddsee, the campaign also garnered 60 posts from micro-influencers, reaching 152,199 followers. It also garnered the support of five mainstream influencers: Denise Keller, Eswari Gunasagar, Joanne Peh, Bino, and Nurul Aini.

The campaign also reached a national level of exposure with key political officer holders, including prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and deputy prime minister Heng Swee Keat, to aid in the messaging of the campaign to Singaporeans.