My favourite ad of all time: NTUC Income’s ‘The Best Gift For Your Child’ from 2018

According to Viddsee's vice president of branded Patrick Ong, 'The Best Gift for Your Child' from NTUC Income makes the cut as his favourite ad for its ability to spark conversations and self-reflection

As ad and marketing folks, we’re all too familiar with the need for storytelling in branded content, but once in a while comes a film that reminds us of how powerful it can be. That film was ‘The Best Gift For Your Child’, from BBH Singapore which was directed by Roslee Yusof and made for NTUC Income last August. 

The almost five minute film starts off with every parents’ nightmare: a son calling them out for being ‘the worst parents in the world’, running through a list of parental fails by today’s Singaporean standards: low-budget DIY parties, mall funfair holidays, cheap tuition classes. 

Halfway through, the film takes a turn and the son starts thanking his parents for choosing to save for their retirement instead of giving him everything he wanted. 

The freedom from supporting his parents, the groom says, gives the newlyweds a chance to focus on the steps they’d like to take in building their new life together. 

Technically, there’s a lot to be admired: the story is tight, the tension builds at the right pace, and the anecdotes are relatable to almost every child in Singapore. It was engineered to make you shed a tear – which I certainly did. 

It’s a story that hits close to home. I was raised in a home where luxuries were scarce – we couldn’t afford meals in fancy restaurants, every dollar spent was accounted for, and my first overseas trips were to Taiwan and Brunei for my National Service (definitely not holidays). 

Like the parents in the film, mine had to choose between saving and never leaving their child wanting. And now that I’m a father myself, I can’t help but think about how torn they must’ve been in making those choices. And about the values I want my kids to learn when they grow up. 

And I wasn’t alone – I met many others who shared the same thoughts that were sparked by the film. 

It is this point of self-reflection that reminds us of a story’s role: it’s more than just to entertain, make you laugh, cry, and give you all the ‘feels’. It’s more than a way to sell an aspirational lifestyle or to create brand awareness.

Stories have been a way for us to share wisdom, start conversations about how we can be better – our desire to tell and listen to stories has always been a part of what makes us human, and will continue to be. 

As a person who has been pitching for the value of branded content, films like these make it an easy and compelling argument on how they can deliver on value — and reminds me of why I love my job. 

Sure, some will argue that it doesn’t deliver enough brand exposure: Like Roslee’s other Hari Raya film, ‘Kinship’ from Tribal Worldwide made for Singapore’s National Water Agency, there were no products or services featured, and any brand mention was held until the very end.

But I would argue that the film helps to define the difference between an ad and a brand film.

While an ad is focused on selling, a brand film is made to spark conversation about its values over conversion. And that is the best thing a film can do for a brand.Patrick Ong is vice president of branded at Viddsee, based in Singapore


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