Low Crime Doesn’t Mean No Crime

Probably the greatest accolade a copywriter can achieve is to have a slogan they wrote enter the national vocabulary.

Let’s face it: not that many people will remember who won a gold last year at Cannes. But a cool phrase that somehow ends up on everybody’s lips and lasts for decades? A slogan that will in all probability outlast the career of the person who wrote it? Well, I for one will happily take that, thank you very much.

I was fortunate enough to manage just that with my slogan for Singapore’s 1996 National Crime Prevention Campaign.  And while I thought it sounded pretty good when I coined it, even I was amazed about how popular it became. Not that I’m complaining though!

Now, if only I got royalties for it…

(Apologies for the pixelation and low resolution footage. The original file source was a VHS tape. Remember those?)

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NEA Clean & Green Week 2001

 

 

 

If there is one thing Singapore is known for, it’s for being clean and green. And it didn’t get that way by accident.

There’s a veritable army of cleaners and road sweepers out there every day, ensuring that everything is as close to spic and span as possible. There are also plenty of hefty fines for those foolish and careless enough to litter in the first place.

And of course there are annual government campaigns to encourage Singaporeans to take an active part in keeping Singapore clean and green. These campaigns go up for tender every year and both local and international agencies compete fiercely for them.

Clean & Green Week 2001 was no exception. That particular year the National Environment Agency (NEA) wanted to focus on recycling. And the brief was to find a way to encourage people to put things like empty drink cans, plastic bottles and papers into their respective recycling bins.

My solution was to take a very lateral approach to the challenge and get these objects to make a personal appeal to the the television viewer.

Instead of just being thrown away, if these relatively humble items were recycled, they could be ‘reincarnated’ as something much more exciting.

A mere aluminum drink can could become part of a sports car.

A basic plastic bottle could be reformed into the casing of  a computer.

A daily newspaper could have a second life as a sheet of art paper.

To sum everything up, I wrote the slogan – “Don’t throw away my future. Recycle me!”

To my delight, NEA and the acting Minister for the Environment, Mr. Lim Swee Say, were very taken with this concept and adopted it wholesale.

And in the true spirit of recycling, the bottle, can and newspaper characters I created (and drew) went on to enjoy an extended lifespan for 2 or 3 years after the campaign officially finished, appearing on bus backs, stickers and post-it-note pads.

C&G

Citibank TVC: “You. Powered by Citi.”

Picture this.

It’s 8.00 am on a cold Friday morning in Ireland about a week before Christmas. I’m happily snoring away,  enjoying one final lie-in before I have to fly back to Singapore the following day.

The phone rings. It’s my traffic manager.

“Sorry to disturb you but when will you be back in Singapore?”

“Sunday,” I reply, trying to sound more awake than I really am.

“Eh, you can’t come back any sooner?”

“Um, no. Do you know how far away Ireland is from Singapore? My return flight’s not until tomorrow.”

Heng.* Never mind. We’ll figure something else out.”

Less than 10 minutes later I get a text message from my art director partner.: “I’m really sorry to disturb you but…”

And that’s how I began working on Citibank Singapore’s first TV commercial in 7 years.

I spent the rest of the day trying to find an internet cafe (my dear mother has many wonderful qualities but being connected to the world wide web is not one of them) and then brainstorm via email with my partner. As you can imagine, my (far) better half was not particularly thrilled with this rude interruption to our last day in Ireland.

I managed to knock out 4 scripts on the flight back to Singapore which arrived about 4pm on Sunday. I went home, showered and was in the office by 5 pm. By 1.00 am Monday, the storyboards were ready and we actually had a script (sort of) approved by 11 am.

Oh well. At least I didn’t have time to suffer from jet lag.

* “Heng” is a Hokkien phrase meaning ‘fortunate’ – as in I was fortunate to be far enough away that I couldn’t be dragged into whatever drama was happening back in the office. Of course in the end I wasn’t really that fortunate.