The thinking behind Nescafé’s campaign to encourage neighbourliness in Singapore

Nescafe campaignNescafé recently launched an ambitious campaign to encourage Singaporeans to be more neighbourly, and put the coffee brand at the heart of the citystate’s residential communities.

In this Q&A interview with Mumbrella, Nescafé spokesman Chow Phee Chat explains the thinking behind a campaign to persuade people to pay their neighbours a visit with a cup of coffee.

What was the insight that led to the creative idea?

There have been reports that in current times interactions with neighbours are limited. In fact, interactions with residents tend to be incidental and minimal, with few displays of trust among neighbours. Most seem contented with the ‘Hi’, ‘Bye’ greeting compared to 50 years ago.

In the past, we were a close-knit community with neighbours looking out for each other, commonly known as the “kampong spirit”. We wanted to continue the brand’s promise of making connections and creating friendships. So we developed this idea based on this local insight to reignite neighbourliness in our communities. This, as we look forward to celebrating Singapore’s 50th anniversary of nationhood, not only to look back at how far we have come, but more importantly how far we can go in the future together.

Watch the TV ad for Nescafé, created by GOVT Singapore:

Tell us a bit where the creative idea came from?

NescafeEvery day brings the promise of a fresh start, new friends – and great coffee. We like to think that the Nescafé red mug is synonymous with great tasting coffee and helping you make the most of life’s opportunities. Cups of Nescafé coffee served in our red mugs are an enabler to forge friendships, to bond and build connections. As such, we have incorporated the same red mugs in our social experiment in a local setting.

In Singapore, we hear our parents speak of their exchanges with neighbours over coffee after they have done their morning exercises. That’s where they get to know whose child is getting married, having babies or even share and discuss current affairs.

At the other extreme, we are also hear about a time-pressed, technology-driven and internet-savvy community where most seem happy with virtual associations made via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Drawing on such our insights and knowing what Nescafé as a brand stands for led to the development of this creative idea.

We wanted to serve as a reminder for Singaporeans to take the initiative to forge real friendships, real ties and to really bond over a cup of coffee. As our slogan goes, “It all starts with a Nescafé.”

Why the decision to directly target Singapore’s heartlanders?

The HDB heartland is a community of families where 90 per cent of Singaporeans live. These maybe elderly folks who have moved from kampongs with familiar faces into flats with new experiences, or young couples having their first HDB flat which is now their home. Whatever may be the case, old ties may have been affected and new ties need to be made.

We wanted to bring out the reminiscent warmth in the neighbourhood filled with fond memories of an endearing home and a cohesive community. Home is not just about your family, but also the people close to you. We wanted to provide opportunities for residents to bond with each other, and are doing that through this campaign as well as our other efforts with the resident communities.

Nescafe campaignSome people just want to be left alone. Do you feel there is any risk of brand damage if people start knocking on doors holding cups of Nescafé?

“Creating Friendships” is about taking the initiative to befriend a neighbour, or to strike a conversation with a familiar face in the community.

We want to bring people together through a simple act of offering a cup of coffee. We believe that coffee can help to build a connection between people and memories. Of course, Singaporeans can find other ways to break the ice and befriend their neighbours. It is also about finding the right opportunity to do something special for someone else.

We do recognise that there are some who prefer to be left alone and are respectful and mindful of this. Having said so, in the social experiment that took place recently in Chai Chee by two young couple, Gisela and Sauman, they discovered for themselves that Singaporeans are generally shy and reserved. However if someone takes the initiative to make the connections, then they are generally receptive to welcoming their neighbours, to get to know them better and even introduce them to the others in the neighbourhood. In fact they were pleasantly surprised by the warmth extended to them and over cups of Nescafé their new-found neighbour-friend introduced them to other neighbours and also shared interesting nuggets about the families in the block, like how they are related.

Tell us about the ‘Know your neighbours’ parties. How will they work, and how will you ensure that the Nescafé brand is the hero of the events? (What if people want to drink traditional kopi and not Nescafé?)

We are very heartened to have the support from the residential communities to rally neighbours together for ‘Know your Neighbours’ parties. We wanted to provide a convenient platform for residents, young and old, to come together through fun activities and games.

Nescafé offers a wide selection of coffee to suit different tastebuds. From classic coffee, to premium blends and espresso, and even Kopi-O and White Coffee, Nescafé tries to fulfil the needs of every coffee lover.

SKMThe Singapore government does plenty to encourage Singaporeans to be nicer to one another (Singapore Kindness Movement, etc) as do other brands (Coke ‘open happiness’, etc). What do you say to people who say you’re moving into already crowded territory in encouraging comradeship?

We all know that building connections is an ongoing commitment. It is not something that happens from a single occurrence but has to be slowly built and nurtured overtime. Our campaign seeks to kickstart and reinforce the value of friendships and connections which has always been the promise of our brand. We hope to help Singaporeans start the ball rolling through a single cup of coffee.

How do you intend to measure the effectiveness of the campaign, not just in terms of how sales of Nescafé increase, but whether or not Singaporean heartlanders become more neighbourly?

The effectiveness of this campaign does not rest on a sales increase for the brand, but on the amount of outreach and conversations that have been generated within the community.

We’ve also brought the conversations that have resulted from our campaign online to encourage the community to share their stories with us. We’re looking forward to hearing their experiences, and from there, learn from each other how we can take the next step forward in forging firm friendships in the community.

Campaign credits:

Ad agency: GOVT
Social media agency: Vocanic
Media agency: Mindshare
PR agency: Asia PR Werkz
Production House: Momentum Production


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