“It was great. Never thought a child like me could do grown up stuff and direct a commercial!” So says six-year-old Zemily Leaw, as she tells The Drum about her experience on directing and featuring in a commercial for Singapore-based OCBC Bank.
The commercial is part of a campaign on the bank’s Mighty Savers programme, which aims to highlight the importance of playtime towards a child’s development and how financial literacy can be taught through play.
OCBC also wants to use the commercial to make a stand and push a message broader than purely a financial one. It believes that it is a cause that is important and wants to communicate to parents, Dennis Tan, head of consumer financial services for Singapore at OCBC Bank tells The Drum.
The bank also hopes that through this campaign, it can make a difference in encouraging more parents to focus on play as an important part of a child’s holistic growth, especially today, where competition and stress to excel academically in Singapore can be overbearing.
“OCBC has always been a strong advocate of inculcating financial literacy from young and has been supporting parents in educating their children about the importance of saving through the OCBC Mighty Savers programme,” explains Tan.
“This year, we decided to take it a notch further by combining our financial literacy advocacy with another that is dear to our heart – the importance of play, especially during a child’s early development years.
Tan also notes that children learn best through following examples and playing, and in today’s highly digitalised and academically focused world, it becomes even more pertinent that the bank needs to make a stand and provide parents with good information and support to provide more playtime opportunities for children.
“In combining play with financial literacy, we are able to impart key lessons from budgeting to distinguishing between needs and wants through effective, fun-filled ways,” he adds.
One way that OCBC is providing parents with good information and support is to practice what it preaches by, which means giving Leaw the opportunity to play a part in the making of its Mighty Savers commercial.
The bank also previously worked with Leaw for a series of financial literacy short videos called 'Zemily’s Zappy Guide to Life', where she shared tips on the four key pillars of money management on how to save, spend, grow, and give.
According to Leaw, her latest work with OCBC is helpful for her peers to learn to save money because ‘feeding the bear is like feeding their piggy bank at home’. She adds: “I really loved learned what a director does on shoot. I want to be a director when I grow up!”
The Mighty Savers campaign was conceptualised by independent local agency Govt, which enjoyed working with Leaw because a joy to work with, smart, articulate and energetic, Stephen Kyriakou, creative director at Govt tells The Drum.
“She brought her own vision and perspective to the production. The result was not only a final film we could never have conceptualized without her, but also a touching journey about her experiences as a first-time director in the behind-the-scenes films,” explains Kyriakou.
According to Kyriakou, once the agency began brainstorming, it realised it was going to be pretty challenging to speak to children in a way that they would understand and appreciate. However, as the objective was getting kids to learn the importance of saving, it had to find the solution to that creative challenge. Ultimately, they decided on getting Leaw to direct the commercial and tell a story about saving in her own way, and in the process of doing so, get a hands-on lesson about why saving matters.
“It took a lot of people taking a leap of faith to make this campaign happen. Internally, we had to all be on-board with selling a concept where we had no idea what the final commercial would look like,” he explains.
“Then we had to sell that idea to the clients, who bought an idea without knowing what the final film would look like. And then we needed a production house to trust us enough to move forward, equally blindly. All of us then had to take a collective leap of faith and put our trust in the hands of Leaw.”
The whole process took about three months and for Kyriakou, he remarks that it sometimes it felt ‘heart-attack-inducingly short’, and at other times it felt ‘gut-wrenchingly long’. However, he says it was worth it in the end.
The biggest lessons learned? Kyriakou says it was to have faith in people that more often than not, they will deliver, and that ideas and stories can come from anywhere, and from anyone, not just from the creative team.
“The biggest challenge was keeping everyone on track as the campaign evolved. It was an extremely fluid process, so all the teams involved had to stay flexible, open and collaborative. It required a lot of compromise as we figured out how to make things work as we brainstormed with Leaw and the story took shape and came to life,” he adds.