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NTUC Income ‘worst parents’ ad on the brink of virality: What makes it tick?

Following its launch yesterday, Income’s ad made its rounds online, drawing around 422,000 views, over 9,200 reactions, 5,700 shares and 409 comments at the time of writing. The video was also praised by netizens for being well shot, touching and having a great message.

Done in partnership with BBH Singapore, the video saw a groom call out his folks for being “the worst parents in the world”, as part of a campaign which encourages Singaporean parents to plan for their retirement. It showcases the dilemma that exists for Singaporean parents between spending on their children and saving for their retirement.

In a conversation with Marketing, Marcus Chew, CMO at Income, said the campaign idea had been in the works for around six to eight months. It first came about based on observations of the people who surround the team. This is especially for parents who are quick to invest in their children financially to give their children a better head-start and quality of life.

As such, the Nielsen study was commissioned to help quantify and qualify the impact of such investments. This was specifically on parents’ retirement planning and children’s perceptions of their parents’ readiness in that regard, and how it affects future planning and decision making for parents and children.

The study, which surveyed 400 parents and 200 youths in Singapore, found youths having low confidence that their parents can rely on savings for retirement. As a result, they foresee making personal sacrifices to support their parents financially. Meanwhile, parents surveyed fell short of retirement funds, yet would still rather sacrifice their retirement planning in order to spend on their children today.

“This is especially pertinent when parents’ motivation to give children the best is contrasted to them ‘becoming a burden’ to their children as revealed by the study. We thought this was an important insight to highlight so that we all can have a more considered approach towards being future ready,” he added.

On the decision to deliver the idea through a wedding speech, Chew said it was the most fitting as it offered a “natural context” for a child to openly speak about and express feelings about their parents or families.

“Serving up the tension that we gleaned from the research also sits well in the context of a wedding speech as the newly-weds usually have the attention of the room when they speak,” Chew explained.

A consumer journey was also mapped to draw customers to the campaign microsite via the TVC to generate leads. Prior to the launch of the TVC, Income also shared the Nielsen research insights that it commissioned publicly to allow the public to have solid context when they viewed the TVC.

The campaign helps the brand position products such as Vivocash Prime, RevoRetire, RevoSecure, VivoChild, LP Revosave, SAIL, Vivowealth Solitaire, RevoEase. These products were selected to address consumer concerns such as ensuring their capital is being guaranteed, and a preference for payouts at specific milestones. This includes the flexibility to drawdown on their investments when the need arises.

To measure the success of the campaign, Income will be looking at brand recall and equity scores, as well as, awareness level about its savings, investments and retirement plans. Lead generation and sales growth for its retirement plans have also been set as indicators.

What makes it tick?

In another conversation about his management style with Marketing, Chew said that having the right insights is also important in understanding how to connect with audiences. Unconventional in his marketing stunt, he said:

We need to recognise and be comfortable with not knowing the outcome of the video before the shoot happens.

“If we know the exact result we are going to get in the end – it is going to be a lousy campaign,” Chew explained.

Meanwhile, Janson Choo, creative director at BBH Singapore who has been working on the Income account for the past decade said, “When it comes to picking directors, I would advise which directors are the ones who will give the client exactly what they want, and those that wouldn’t. For the case of Income, the brand would not go with the director who does the former.”

“If I knew what exactly was going to happen in the video, I may as well been the one directing it,” Income’s Chew added.

He explained that every person involved in the campaign also needs to play a part. Clients for example, don’t just play the role of writing the brief; they need to make an effort to create the content together in a collaborative manner.

Why the ad worked

Creatives Marketing spoke to broke down why the ad resonated with so many viewers. For Tay Guan Hin, founder at TGH Collective and former ECD of JWT Southeast Asia, the ad was not only realistic for a lot of Singaporeans, but also touched on “sensitive differences”. This includes having or not having piano lessons as a child to taking expensive family vacations.

“It builds on the materialistic side of Singapore life and parenthood while also building on the importance of finding oneself through the love of family and everyone around a person,” Tay explained.

In terms of execution, two words describe this ad for Tay – “Imperfect Beauty”. The ad managed to deliver a high impact due to the polarising stance it took by calling the protagonist’s parents the “worst parents”, hence resulting in a bigger twist when he eventually portrays them as the best parents, he explained. He added that many a time ads tend to play into the idea of perfection as brands and clients tend to want to portray daily life as something which is perfect.

“The idea of ‘love’ in this case was not quite as literal as having happy people running on a beach, but rather a parent’s love and what money cannot buy. When it comes to love, it’s usually quite easy to come across as too cliché,” Tay said.

Agreeing with Tay, Timothy Chan, creative director at GOVT Singapore, said that the spot also proves that storytelling is “well and truly alive in advertising”. The overall simplicity of the story of a son’s relationship with his middle income parents was something which was relatable to everyone.

“We all can relate to growing up under modest circumstances,” he added.

Read also:
NTUC Income’s “fearless” ad taps into childhood bravery
Income breaks stereotypes of women and their upbringing
Income puts forth the magic in people for latest ad spot
NTUC Income’s publicity stunt with local actress backfires
A heart wrenching true story of a low-income family’s struggles [VIDEO]
NTUC Income gets youths to meet their “future selves

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