The Learning Lab's ad addressing gender pay issue gets thumbs up

BLK J has created its first spot for The Learning Lab to help establish the enrichment centre’s positioning in the market.

The film shows a little girl pondering over a regular math question to find the ratio between the salaries earned by a boy and a girl. Instead of answering the question within its conventions, she turns to her tutor and probes for an explanation about gender inequality. The focus of the spot was to push for applied learning, with gender diversity being one exemplification of applied learning in action.

Khalid Osman, creative partner and co-founder of BLK J, said, “The Learning Lab is a progressive institution. They don’t just tutor kids for exams but get them ready for life with applied learning. And that’s what this little story brings to life. At The Learning Lab, students are taught to question the questions too and to think for themselves, because those are the skill sets they will need in the real world.”

“BLK J has done a great job in bringing our vision to life. We see ourselves not just as a prominent Singaporean enrichment centre, but also as thought leaders. While marketing our product in a powerful way is important, it’s also our duty to guide our students to constantly think about the world they live in, beyond the pages of their books. And that’s exactly what the film does,” said Eleanor Tan, director, marketing & communications, enrolment & client services of The Learning Lab.

OMD is The Learning Lab’s media partner.

Marcus Loh, VP of marketing and corporate communication, PSB Academy said the ad plays on a the popular narrative of “less schooling, more education”.

It seems like a deliberate rebrand of its identity.

"I can’t say that I’m familiar with details about The Learning Lab aside from what I’ve read in the papers, but it seemed to be a tuition centre that used to take a highly selective approach to student selection, with a track record of producing students who score well at school. The team is turning this approach on its head,” Loh said.

“My guess is that The Learning Lab might be taking a more expansionary business approach and this is one indication of how they’re attempting to increase their market share - by differentiating themselves from other tuition centres in this new proposition about life skills versus academic achievement,” he added.

Ted Choo, head corporate marketing of SMU, said it sends the right message, especially with the new direction by education minister about many pathways to success and grades are not everything for entry into University.  The narrative now, he said, is for a more holistic education and the emphasis on creativity, innovation, life-skills ( soft skills and adaptability) and leadership. It is not just the route of learning but rather how you apply the learning in life.

“Hopefully the  lion and tiger moms out there will recognised that chasing after grades may not be the whole or right path to their child’s education. This really sets The Learning Lab (and its students apart) and [justifies] its premium pricing,” he said.

Tay Guan Hin, global executive director of JWT lauded the content of the film.

“Gender equality pay is a very sensitive issue and the film handled the subject matter that stayed true to what The Learning Lab is all about: teaching life. Using a simple Math equation to trigger a bigger topic that's seen from the eyes of a little girl is a very smart way to spark an issue without sounding too patronising. Well done Blk J,” he said. He added that the end “could have been stronger” when the little girl asked the question about gender equality.

“The teacher explained that 'gender pay quality is about girls and boy getting the same salary. BUT'... It's the ‘BUT’ [that trails off] that troubles me. I wish the teacher could just say I believe this is the right thing to do,” he said, adding:

But how [the ad] branded the school through a topical subject is still a brave thing to do.

Campaign credits:

Client : The Learning Lab
Director, Marketing & Communications, Enrolment & Client Services: Eleanor Tan
Marketing Manager: Leon Lee
Assistant Manager: Emery Lim
Assistant Manager: Denise Lee
Creative Lead : Charlotte Cheng

Agency:BLK J
Co-founders & creatives: Joji Jacob, Khalid Osman & Lester Lee
Creative team: Sid Lim (Senior Art Director), Michael Chin (Writer), Cheryl Chu (Art Director) &
Shahrin Izhar (Writer)
Strategy director: Jonathan Lim
Account team: Rowena Bhagchandani (CEO & Co-Founder), Vivien Foo (Senior Account Director),
Jonathan Ng (Account Manager) & Valerie Ng (Senior Account Executive)
Video production agency: Freeflow Productions
Director: Roslee Yusof
Senior producer: Jill Soong
Assistant producer: Emily Teng
Director of Photography: Alan Yap
Offline editor: Jowell Tan
Colourist: Adrian Ooi
Sound design & Music: The Gunnery