Let the festivities begin. Singtel has gotten the ball rolling with its latest festive season, encouraging Singaporeans to spend time strengthening connections with family this Christmas. Titled ‘The Gift’, the film centres on a teenager whose self-absorption and busy digital life disrupts the family’s annual Christmas tradition.
On the morning of Christmas eve, much to the dismay of her parents, 17 year-old Jess, the protagonist, leaves home in search of a dress for the party she’s attending in lieu of Christmas dinner at home. Her mother too heads out of the house, but for an entirely different reason – to take on more shifts as a nurse to pay for her daughter’s mobile phone. Returning from her shopping trip, Jess discovers she’s lost her mobile phone and has a meltdown. Although her father gives her his phone, offering to use his old one, Jess continues to badger mom for a new one - ‘ASAP.’
Herein lies every parent’s dilemma, how much should one give in to their children, particularly given the rising dependence on mobile devices. Heading out to her party, Jess discovers she’s forgotten something and returns to the house. This is when she overhears her father berating mom for working too much to fund Jess’ lifestyle. Mortified, Jess slinks back to her room only to find a gift on the table – a new mobile phone.
Her sense of entitlement then gives way to a deep realisation of her mother’s love for her. She apologises, forgoes the party, and stays home for dinner. The film took its cue from studies that show people of all ages are spending more time on their mobile phones than with family.
According to a global study, Smartphone Addiction Facts and Phone Usage Statistics (The Definitive Guide 2019) by Bankmycell, smartphone users spend on average 2 hours 51 minutes a day on their smartphones, and less than 45 minutes a day on quality time with their families. Closer to home, most parents in Singapore do not limit their children to only the call and text functions on their mobile devices.
A study by The Asian Parents Forum, commissioned by Singtel, found that more than half surveyed (51%) are prepared to give their child a mobile line with mobile data. “In our hi-tech world of shiny gadgets and devices, parents often feel compelled to indulge their children, even if their demands are excessive.
"We thought Christmas was the perfect time to reframe the spirit of giving in our increasingly digital society, that we really ought to be prioritising family time and connections in the deeper sense of the word,” said Lian Pek, Singtel’s VP for group strategic communications and brand. She added that “The Gift” is a part of Singtel’s on-going branded content campaign, which is served through a storytelling approach that allows the group to articulate its brand values of family, community, diversity and inclusivity through a series of festive films.
According to Singtel, last year, “Grace’s White Christmas” chalked up more than 11 million views on Facebook and YouTube. During this year’s Chinese New Year, “From Ma, With Love” garnered more than 19 million views.
“Our films are not solicitations to transact with us, but rather, to appreciate our values which would hopefully spark some desire to interact with our brand for the long haul. Today’s customers don’t just want to transact or buy from companies that meet their requirements profitably. They want to support and engage with companies that have heart,” added Lian Pek.
Conceptualised and produced in collaboration with Akanga Film Asia, the film will air on Singtel TV and various social media channels from 29 November to 31 December, and in cinemas from 12 to 25 December.