MullenLowe Singapore’s ECD Daniel Kee explains how the taste of homemade cooking builds bridges in this campaign by Prudential writes LBB’s Zoe Antonov
Lunar New Year has rolled around and MullenLowe Singapore have collaborated with Prudential Singapore to mark this year’s celebrations with a new heartfelt film about family, reconnection and reminiscing after a hard period.
Distance has been one of the key hardships of the pandemic – not being able to pet your dog back home, not being able to see your brothers and sisters and not being able to taste your mum’s cooking during the holidays. Prudential has taken it upon themselves to remind us of that feeling of ‘home’ and what home really tastes like.
Lunar New Year’s celebrations are usually marked by families getting together and strong emphasis is placed on the ritual of cooking and eating dinner together. Specialty dishes painstakingly prepared by grandmothers and mothers, day-long preparations of food that you don’t ever get to eat the ‘proper way’ (meaning usually ‘your grandma’s way’), aromas that always have a special place in our hearts.
In Prudential’s Lunar New Year film, celebrity Chef Ivan Yeo is tasked with recreating some of those special home-made dishes for individuals separated from their families this holiday. Alice (Hui Shui) is a Prudential customer from Malaysia, living in Singapore with her Singaporean husband, who recently gave birth to their son, who her Malaysian parents haven’t yet met, as they have been blocked by Covid travel restrictions. In the campaign, Alice’s mum Jennifer, gives Chef Ivan her special Lunar New Year recipes and teaches him to cook them in her own way. Alice’s family is invited to a surprise dinner, where she finally gets that taste of home and gets to video call her parents, finding out about the collaboration.
Daniel Kee, executive creative director of MullenLowe Singapore revealed the behind the scenes of this beautiful film and the best parts of its creation to LBB’s Zoe Antonov below.
LBB> What was the brief for this campaign and what were the initial conversations surrounding it?
Daniel> Due to the pandemic, CNY celebrations have been rather muted these past two years, and this year it’s no different. Travel restrictions continue to keep families apart as they hold out for their long-awaited reunion. The challenge for this campaign was to encourage people to reconnect, despite the restrictions and distances that may stand between us. How could Prudential show us the power of human connection this CNY with a simple yet meaningful action?
LBB> What were the main messages you wanted to convey to audiences?
Daniel> Prudential empowers you to DO well and make the most out of life by bridging distances and creating connections with those who matter most this CNY.
LBB> Tell us more about working with Chef Ivan, what was that like?
Daniel> It was wonderful working with Chef Ivan. He was very intuitive and knew exactly what was needed right from the get-go. We connected him with Auntie Jennifer in Malaysia so she could explain to him the recipes in detail and when it came to bringing the dishes to life, his experience in the kitchen showed as he was able to recreate these dishes effortlessly.
LBB> And what was it like navigating the contact between Chef Ivan and Jennifer, Alice's mum? What was it like watching a professional chef learn the intricacies of a family recipe?
Daniel> Chef Ivan and Auntie Jennifer (Alice’s mum) had instant chemistry from the first meeting and it helped that she was very willing to share. They were able to communicate well and had a good collaborative process of teaching and learning the recipes. It was interesting to see how quickly Chef Ivan was able to pick up the family recipes and then meticulously prepare the dishes to perfection.
LBB> Why did you decide to centre this heartfelt film around food, how did that idea come about?
Daniel> Reunion dinner is central to every CNY celebration. It is an occasion when families come together from near or far to reconnect over a meal that is often made up of specialty dishes prepared by our parents and grandparents. Every family has their own secret recipes, dishes and flavours – these are the things that connect us to home. Being apart due to the pandemic has made us cherish even the simplest of home-cooked meals.
While video calls during reunion dinner have allowed us to bridge some of these gaps, there’s only so much technology can do. So, we wondered if we could somehow bring the flavours of familiar home-cooked food to someone stranded miles away from home. And since technology hasn’t allowed us to replicate taste and smell, we found the next best solution.
LBB> What were the biggest hurdles in the production of this campaign? What about the most fun parts?
Daniel> Finding the right family for this campaign and the intricate planning that went on behind the scenes. And even with all the planning, there’s always going to be some uncertainty and trepidation when it comes to unscripted surprises. But thankfully, everything fell into place the moment the cameras started rolling. It was a powerful and emotional moment for everyone there – and I can tell you that there were a few wet eyes on set and behind the camera, not just in front of it!
LBB> How long did the production take from start to finish?
Daniel> It took about a month to get it from brief to execution – we needed to work with speed as we wanted everything to be ready well in time for the campaign to launch in January, before CNY 2022.
LBB> Any final thoughts?
Daniel> We started from a place of sincerity– and we hope the message of the campaign will inspire everyone touched by it to reconnect with those who matter most. To remind us that small gestures can make the most meaningful connections – just like it did for Alice and her family. Happy New Year!