NTUC Income CMO defends sandwich-gen ad, says dramatisation was intended


NTUC Income's new ad titled "The Promise", launched earlier this month, has copped flak from netizens online for portraying the father character in what netizens deemed in a "selfish and demanding" manner. The ad that aims to end the "sandwich generation" cycle, centres around a young man pressured by his father for more allowance, a bigger car and higher expectations.

In a string of comments on Facebook, some netizens called out the ad for being "irresponsible" and painting a scenario that puts "toxicity" in family relations. Another netizen however, felt that the dramatisation could have been "more powerful" if the ad featured a "kind and understanding" parent instead. A quick check by Marketing saw that whilst there were naysayers, there were others who said the "sandwich generation" cycle is "real" and that the daily unseen struggles in the ad are "relatable" and "meaningful".

In a statement to Marketing, NTUC Income's chief marketing officer Marcus Chew said the dramatisation is intended to "move the audience" to reflect on their personal circumstances and drive conversations on important matters that are not frequently and openly discussed - in this case, around retirement adequacy and the impact on the next generation.

Chew explained that as in all conversations, there will be differing views and reactions to the film. However, he said that statistics from Income's social media platforms show that almost 90% of over 12,000 reactions to the film were positive and also spurred organic commentaries on personal blogs.

"However, we recognise the sacrifices that parents made to invest in us and we believe that the points of view shared by some netizens stem from our Asian roots and strong sense of responsibility towards our retired parents. The latter was also reflected by a majority of young Singaporeans who participated in our survey on sandwich generation," he added. According to Chew, the team was mindful about depicting this sense of filial piety in its film.

"We are better placed to break the 'sandwich generation' cycle for future generations, thanks to the sacrifices of our parents, better levels of education, financial literacy and access to financial tools. We can and we should pay it forward and this what we aim to do with this film by bringing conversations to the fore and to motivate people to take actions," Chew said.

The campaign was launched earlier this month and captures the pressures of a young man caught between caring for his parents and providing for his own family, eventually leading him to ensure he liberates his daughter of the financial responsibilities that he has been burdened with. Developed by BBH Singapore and executed by DentsuX, the campaign comes with the tagline “We can be the last sandwich generation, when we plan our retirement”.

According to Income, the campaign positions the insurance company as a partner in retirement planning and aims to educate young parents of the role they can play in ending the vicious cycle of financial dependence on their children by planning for their retirement.

This marks as the second time the portrayal of the elderly has angered some netizens online. Just last week, CPF Board was under the spotlight for putting senior citizens in a bad light for tut-tutting and not the way to promote retirement planning. CPFB's “Tsk” ad which shows senior citizens expressing their annoyance with a “tsk”, was deemed “distasteful” by netizens.