Proposition

 

This proposal aims
to increase the awareness for the Happy People Helping People Foundation(HPHP)
among Singaporean Youth to inform them about the problems Cardboard Collectors
face and how they can do their part to help. This can be done through the #CardboardConversations
Social Media Campaign, a viral “Mile in their shoes” Challenge, and an
interactive print ad.

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Preface

 

Happy People
Helping People Foundation (HPHP) is a non-governmental community organisation
aimed at addressing the issue of the lack of understanding and support for
cardboard collectors in Singapore. The main event HPHP organises is “Happy
Sunday”, a monthly food distribution drives at various cardboard collection
locations in Singapore. They have also recently organised a fundraising event
in collaboration with Park Bench Deli called “Break Bread not Backs”. HPHP has
been steadily increasing their number of beneficiaries, but though they have
been able to steadily gain awareness on mainstream media outlets and on their
Facebook Page (17,000 views in 1 Aug 2017 to 20,000 views as of 23 January
2018), 1 there is little
awareness among youth about their cause and the events they organise.

 

As it stands, many
youths are oblivious and even apathetic toward the issue of cardboard
collectors in Singapore and even more are unaware of HPHP and what they can do
to contribute to the cause. This problem originates from the fact that HPHP is
simply not targeting youths well with their marketing. Many of their posters
and advertisements not only fail to capture the attention of youths but also
fail to effectively convey information and persuade youths to recognise the
importance of the issue. This is dangerous, as leaving this as the status quo
breeds indifference and apathy among youth and forms the misconception that the
onus on solving the issue lies only among adults.

 

Due to the lack of
promotional material and campaigns targeted at youths, this proposal suggests
three ways HPHP can reach out to Singaporean youth and engage them in helping
our elderly.
As of 2013,2  59% of internet
users are youths aged 15-34, and most of them are social media savvy (“Distribution
of internet users in Singapore”). Therefore, our ideas revolve around using or
involving social media in a way that engages youths. Firstly, we propose a
social media campaign under the hashtag of #CardboardConversations that urges
youths to have a conversation with Cardboard Collectors and share their
experiences. Another idea is a video challenge titled “A day in their shoes”,
helping them empathise with the plight of these elderly cardboard collectors by
going through what they go through. Lastly, an interactive print advertisement
featuring a QR code that serves as an interactive discovery experience with
accurate statistics to let youths learn more and spread awareness about the issue
of poverty among elderly as well as the ways they can help support the cause.

 

Position

 

At the moment, not
many Singaporean youths are aware of how severe the issue of poverty and
loneliness in elderly cardboard collectors is and even fewer know of HPHP. This
can be chalked up to two main reasons. Firstly, a lack of exposure to HPHP’s
marketing messages to youths in Singapore. Youths lack a baseline level of
understanding on the issue as unlike the target audience of working adults,
they don’t have firsthand experience on how difficult it is to earn a living.
Furthermore, as HPHP posts their announcements and details of events are
conducted mostly through facebook—a social media
platform fewer and fewer youths frequent—Singaporean Youths
are relatively unaware of events that HPHP conducts. Secondly, HPHP has no
sponsors and is fully funded through crowdfunding. This means that as their
main goal is to help their beneficiaries, they are unable to limitations in
dedicate financial resources to creating effective promotional and marketing
material targeted at youths.

 

Events conducted by
HPHP has been effective in delivering help to the beneficiaries but despite
their efforts, have been ineffective in gaining publicity among youths. HPHP
organises “Happy Sunday”, a monthly collection and distribution of meal cards
and cash vouchers. Though it receives many mentions from traditional media, it
is still largely an internal event for volunteers and beneficiaries and
volunteers, with their social media page functioning more as a bulletin board
for its members. HPHP has also organised a recent fundraising event “Break
Bread not Backs”, and though it featured OBEY Clothing Singapore, a clothing
brand targeted at youths, as a sponsor the event received little media mention,
and according to the Facebook
RSVP3 , only 138 people
turned up for this event. Events like these continue to improve the lives of
the beneficiaries but HPHP has been unable to capitalise on their event to gain
awareness among Singaporean youth.

 

Problem / Potential

 

HPHP finds their
message ineffective in impacting Singaporean Youth due to a disconnect in the
understanding of problems—loneliness,
physical exhaustion and financial difficulties—that cardboard collectors in Singapore
face.4  One of the main
causes of said disconnect is because the current promotional material is not engaging
youths. Their promotional videos average around five minute runtimes, photo
albums from events are filled with absurd amounts of photos, and their current
marketing efforts focus on detailing events and logistics needed. Furthermore,
statistics on the issue such as how much cardboard sells for, how long the
average cardboard collector works and how many kilograms of cardboard they carry
differ from source to source and is not readily accessible. In doing my
research, I had to piece and cross-reference information from news reports from
The New
Paper5 , TODAY6 , and Channel
NewsAsia7 . Information about
their events are also posted on their Facebook and though 3.2 million people in
Singapore use Facebook, more are starting to also use Instagram, leading to less
time spent browsing Facebook, which means HPHP has to begin branching out to
other platforms in order to engage youth audiences (Shahari).

By adopting any of
the three media campaigns suggested in this proposal, HPHP will gain greater
awareness amongst youth, and by urging youth to find out more, more youths will
be encouraged to contribute to the cause. Building a social media presence is
gradual, and if left as the status quo, youth audiences will only be further
left out. Moreover, if HPHP continues alienating youths communicates that the issue
of loneliness and poverty among elderly is being taken care of by others. Take
into account that in the year of 2018, the number of Singaporeans over the age
of 65 will match the number of Singaporeans under 18 9 5 (“Singapore’s demographic time bomb”). Under an urgent
ageing population issue, apathy among youths will only inspire inaction among
the demographic that has to increasingly provide support for more and more
elderly in the future. This is a problem. By adopting any of the three
suggestions made in this portfolio, HPHP will be able to combat apathy in
youths with empathy. The campaigns are designed to provide a steady stream of
information to its participants, allowing youths to slowly build understanding
and context. Another important factor in the campaigns suggested is the participation
of youths in these marketing campaigns, advocating for the youth to start
discussing these issues among their social circles, which widens the campaign’s
impact to greater youth audiences.

 

Possibilities

 

The first of three
suggestions made in this proposal is the #CardboardConversations Social Media
Campaign. Singaporean youths use social media
platforms regularly10 11 , in fact, they
spend an average of 3.4 hours daily, the equivalent of one day a week. Of those
23.8 hours a week, roughly half of it is spent on social media platforms,
whether it is keeping up with their friends or reading the latest trendy
content (Kok). Social media has
become a huge way youths interact with the world, and thus a social media
campaign would be effective, as it captures the short attention span of youths
while simultaneously being non-disruptive to their activities.
#CardboardConversations is a project to encourage youth to reach out to
cardboard collectors around their area and submit photos and messages about
their #CardboardConversations on social media. On the issue of what social
media platforms to use, Instagram comes to mind as it is a fast growing platform
in Singapore, from 51% of online users in 2014 to 63% in 2017 (Shahari). The
campaign will be conducted on major social media platforms, primarily through
Instagram and Facebook. This gives creative youths a channel for advocacy and
gives HPHP an avenue to generate content in their new social media accounts
that can reach even more youths. The campaign will be effective in opening up a
medium for youths to advocate for the cause in ways that are not monetary and
therefore, not out of their reach. Moreover, the campaign inspires action which
in of itself repels apathy and humanises the cardboard collectors, teaching
youth to approach them patiently with empathy rather than sympathy.

 

The second of three
suggestions made in this proposal will be the “A Mile in their Shoes” Video
Challenge. As seen from Youtube and internet culture, many viral trends of late
like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the “Bottle Flip” Challenge have been
challenges that participants enjoy videotaping themselves attempting. As such,
the simple fact is that challenges go viral. In light of the overwhelming
success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Forbes Magazine wrote an article on
why it ended up being so. Marketer and Forbes contributor Steve Olenski
mentioned that challenges are so popular because it encourages audiences to
bring in their friends in a way that is reminiscent of childish teasing in the
playground, allowing the challenge to spread itself. Because of this, the “A
Mile in their Shoes” Video Challenge will be conducted via Youtube
announcements prior to and during the challenge, where participants will
experience daily tasks of increasing difficulty that relate to the strenuous
nature of collecting cardboard for a living. These tasks will range from slight
nuisances like having to wake up earlier, to physically draining tasks like
pushing and carrying bags of rice down the street to simulate a cart stacked
full of cardboard. Throughout the five day challenge, participants will post
daily vlogs on their thoughts and the challenges that faced. By letting youths
experience how strenuous it is to collect cardboard for long hours, youths will
experience a change of beliefs, giving participants and viewers alike greater
understanding of the plight of these cardboard collectors.

 

The last out of
three suggestions made in this proposal will be the #OutofNeed Interactive Bus
Stop Ad Campaign. According to OOH Media by Mediacorp Advertising, bus stop ads
“reach out to 3.9 million people over the age of 15” (“Bus Shelters”). Not only
are Bus Stop Advertisements reaching a large amount of people, but many of
these posters lack a way to interact with the viewer. The #OutofNeed Bus Stop
Ad campaign will be designed minimalistically with the QR code in the middle to
draw attention to it. The QR Code will redirect viewers to a webpage that has
an interactive display showing statistics of how much cardboard collectors earn
and on average how long they work. This will allow youths to debunk the fallacy
that some cardboard collectors do it for exercise or as a pastime, and most do
it #OutofNeed. This Campaign will be effective in engaging youths as they use
their mobile phones regularly, especially when waiting for the bus and
integrating interactivity through a QR code gives youths an additional way of
killing time. Furthermore, having a website linked from the bus ad combines the
best of both worlds. Having a bus ad guarantees a high visibility, and having a
website ensures information is delivered to youth at a pace they can control.
Moreover, as it is online, it also lends itself well to social media
integration, and youths can subsequently “like” and share the website on social
media.

 

Proposal

 

Out of all three
solutions proposed, the first and best campaign suggestion would be the
#CardboardConversations Social Media Campaign. For starters, it is easy for
youths to participate in the campaign. Even though approaching and talking to
cardboard collectors requires patience and courage, the campaign does not ask
for much more from the participants, making approaching the elderly the main
challenge. The campaign also leverages that mobile phones can easily take
photos and compose short messages quickly, making it accessible and simple for
youths to share their thoughts immediately after the conversation. Earlier in
this proposal, we discussed the utility of having a viral nature to the
campaign, and similarly, this can also be viewed as a sort of challenge. As the
messages spread will be positive in nature, the campaign effectively creates
conversational currency between youths, making it easy for participants to
persuade their friends to come along with them, making it less intimidating.
Precisely because it is easy to participate, large amounts of varied content
can be produced, helping to humanise the cardboard collectors of Singapore. As
an example of a similar successful “Share your story” type campaign launched in
Singapore, the “SG50 Heart Map” was launched May 24, 2015, and the campaign
encouraged participants to share their Singaporean love stories. This resulted
in more than 80,000 personal submissions and shows that Singaporeans, when
given a medium, are open to sharing their experiences and stories (Spykerman). Similarly,
encouraging youths to talk about their #CardboardConversations through Social
Media allows the Campaign to be versatile as to different people, it can be a
challenge, a movement, or  even a medium
to tell their stories.

 

The second
suggestion is the “A Mile in their Shoes” Video Challenge and was rejected
after careful consideration. Although the media messages shared have the
potential to be insightful and profound, the campaign itself is rather
disruptive for participants. Following through on the challenge that increases
in levels of physical stress would unsurprisingly alienate audiences, and given
that this is just a video challenge, many may drop out midway through.
Furthermore, Singaporean youths have been exposed to these viral internet
trends that though challenging, require much less time commitment and would
thus be put off due to the inconveniences it causes. Even if the Video
Challenge succeeds, the end product is still less effective content at a
potentially higher cost. At first glance, having a challenge would mean that
HPHP saves on video production costs and creates more content. However, having
a stream of unregulated video blogs posted could be potentially dangerous to
HPHP’s public relations. Hence, HPHP would require more personnel to regulate
user-submitted content, as well as market and assimilate the details of the
challenge, and it would be potentially less costly to just produce content on
their own. The video challenge encourages audiences to post a vlog (Video Blog)
every day for five days. Take into account that producing a daily vlog requires
time and effort from the participants, and that good vlog relies on good
writing and delivery, it is most likely that the Vlogs produced would be
verbose and unengaging. This leads to content that HPHP might not even be able
to capitalise on and publicise.

 

The last suggestion, which I have deemed to be the least
effective and feasible is the #OutofNeed Interactive Bus Stop Ad Campaign.
Though insightful information can be communicated to youth audiences, compared
to both challenges which run primarily on social media, the cost of running
print advertisements are much higher. This cost is harder to justify
considering that HPHP is a community organisation, and without sponsors to back
them up, they have to turn to community fundraising. Furthermore, hidden costs
such as Web hosting and the design of the website linked to from the QR code
may add on to an already large amount of money needed that isn’t being given to
the elderly; the organisation’s main cause. Even though youth begin to spend
more time glued to their mobile devices, print advertisements become less
effective simply because fewer people are looking at them. Furthermore,
according to the Cumulative
Effects Theory12 , media effects on
the same issues were cumulative and have “profound effects over time” (Adler
and George 478). Only by exposing audiences to repeated ad exposure to the same
media messages can the ad be effective, and a long-term ad campaign will only
cost HPHP a ton of money that they do not currently have.

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