RHB Bank is looking to make neurodiversity and inclusivity the heart of its Chinese New Year campaign this year with a dramatic retelling of autistic rights activist and filmmaker Beatrice Leong’s life.
Created together with RHB Bank’s creative agency FCB Shout, the film, titled Acceptance is shot entirely from a first-person point-of-view to help viewers see through the eyes of Leong and better understand how an autistic person navigates the world around them.
The film begins with a young Leong introducing the audience to her soft toy named Bunny which sports the bank’s blue branding. As Leong realises that Bunny is her sole source of comfort among her family members and schoolmates who view her as an outcast, she decides to pack up her things and run away.
On her journey alone on the streets, she meets Luth, a young boy from The Ark Autism Learning Centre who also carries a soft toy. It is through this encounter that she realises that she may not be so alone after all.
“I thought that no one but Bunny understood me. But the truth is, I didn’t understand myself either,” Leong said in the film. Together with her mother, Leong seeks consultation from a specialist to better understand autism.
In a shocking twist, when the film shows Leong’s mother accepting her by giving her Bunny which she once thought was childish for her to have. The shot then pans to reveal that Leong in real-life directed and narrated the film herself.
“At RHB, we are committed to making progress happen for everyone, and our various diversity, equity and inclusion (‘DEI’) initiatives are testament to this,” said Abdul Sani Abdul Murad, group chief marketing officer of RHB Banking Group.
“This heartfelt and personal film by Beatrice Leong reaffirms our commitment to continue supporting the neurodiverse community and serves as a timely reminder during this festive period to embrace and celebrate one’s true self,” he added.
Leong currently leads an NGO called Autism Inclusiveness Direct Action Group which aims to represent the autistic community in media spaces and policy-making. True enough, the film also features autistic cast members to prove that autistic people do have a place in the world of media and arts, said Leong.
“It was really exciting to produce a film that was shot from a first person’s POV, but we did it not just because we wanted to do something different; there’s actually a deeper meaning behind the technique,” added Tjer, FCB Shout’s head of creative.
“As someone who only found out that she is autistic in her 30s, Beatrice spent much of her life hiding and running away from the world. That inspired us to tell her story without actually showing who she really is, right until the very end,” he further explained.
Last year, FCB Shout also worked together with RHB Bank and Star Media Group on the second instalment of the #JomSapot BeliLokal initiative (Come Support and Buy Local) that features Malaysian actress, fashion icon, TV host and entrepreneur Sazzy Falak.
Together with RHB’s creative agency, FCB SHOUT, the new campaign utilises Falak’s face and voice to promote the brands or local merchants by creating ads that appear to star the Malaysian entertainer with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
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