Malaysian Media Awards Winners Showcase

2022 | |

Heart & Sole: Thinking Outside The Box, To Fill A Box

Advertiser: Malaysian Relief Agency
Brand: Heart & Sole
Creative Agency: N/A
Credits: Sheila Shanmugam - Mindshare Group, Chief Executive Officer Wong Sook Fun - Mindshare Group, Business Director Putri Hazirah - Mindshare Group, Associate Director Dayang Haniza - Mindshare Group, Associate Director Neal Pravin Joseph - Mindshare Group, Associate Director Ang Ching Wen - Mindshare Group, Senior Manager Shaafiq Siraj - Mindshare Group, Senior Executive Dr Shahrizal Azwan Bin Samsudin - Malaysian Relief Agency (MRA), Secretary General/CEO

Objective & Challenge
In the midst of a seemingly unending pandemic, struggling Malaysians including single mothers, started flying white flags outside their homes as a plea for help. Emotional stories of families with depleted savings surviving on one meal a day started making the news everywhere. More alarmingly was that suicide rates skyrocketed, with police data showing that 468 people had taken their own lives over the first five months of 2021. We were finding out that mental unwellness had crept into our society and was going undetected Challenge: The agency set themselves a task to bring the needed attention to the unnoticed single mother, and show leadership in bringing advertising agencies, corporate clients, donors and civil society organisations to support single mothers.

Insight & Strategy
Life is challenging for single mothers anywhere in the world, more so for those who are living in poverty. In Malaysia, single mothers are in their predicament because of spousal death, spousal abandonment or divorce. Many face financial challenges and the majority of single mothers that hail from urban poor areas usually lack specialized job skills, as well as the education required to get a sustainable income from employment. Faced with these barriers, many of these single mothers have no option other than accepting poorly paid jobs in generally unfavourable working conditions. A study from University Kebangsaan Malaysian (UKM), indicates that Malaysian single mothers in urban poor areas have on average of four or more children. Unable to afford childcare and often saddled with the additional burden of caring for extended family members, single mothers were housebound during the pandemic. Having to take on the additional duty of caring for their children at home, they were unable to take on full-time jobs. As a result, they are forced to rely on modest government assistance to even put food on the table. Under normal circumstances Malaysians are generally empathetic and will go out their way to help their community. However, during the pandemic many were fighting their own battles and the pleas of single mothers went unnoticed. Everyone seemed to have no time to care for themselves, much less care for others. For the agency, fighting the cause of single mothers is not new – we championed them since 2018. While past efforts involved upskilling and opening new business opportunities, we knew that in this pandemic year, we had to fulfil a more basic need: helping single mums feed their families. The solution? Heart & Sole. It was an effort that was conceived not just to create positive social impact, but to unite our clients and partners around a worthy cause while strengthening bonds with an unnoticed community – single mothers.

1. Rallying our partners to walk for a good cause To make the effort truly inclusive, the mechanics were simple – pledge RM10 for every kilometre walked. Walking was seen an easy and accessible to stay active within your compound, while improving mental health. So, we rallied our industry partners (Unity Media, AOS, RCA, F45, Artalive Artificial Limb, M&CSaatchi and Grey Worldwide) to participate in this noble initiative. We then involved our clients Sunquick, Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, Tune Talk, CIMB to join this exercise by pledging and walking too. For our partners, this was a welcomed activity to get them and their moving and ease the pandemic blues while doing good. Then to ensure transparency, we used “Map My Walk” to record every kilometre that was pledged for this good cause. 2. Assembling a team to deliver packages filled with goodness We supported Pak Grocer, a local SME that was also struggling, and enlisted them as our grocery and logistic partner. Furthermore, NGOs such Yayasan Chow Kit and the Malaysian Relief Agency came together to help execute and distribute care packs with 1 month worth of groceries for single mothers. 3. Bringing on experts to encourage good mental and physical health In addition to the distribution of care packs, the agency organized a talk titled “Resilience Amidst Change” by licensed psychologist John Pinto from Thougthfull and brought in fitness experts F45 to speak to the single mothers. These experts gave them tips and tricks on how to navigate the mental and physical challenges. It’s probably the first time that an industry CSR effort has encompassed such a wide and diverse spectrum of partners, each contributing in invaluable ways to our common cause.

Spectacular, heartwarmingly effective and all done at ZERO COST. 1. By reaching 8,027,800 Malaysians, the initiative brought much needed awareness to the plight of the unnoticed single mothers. 2. Heart & Sole united our clients and partners to walk 3,534 kilometres (that’s roughly the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Shanghai!). 3. Raised RM30,000 in funding and helped 300 single mothers 4. The most gratifying and important result of all – we ensured that each single mothers was able to put food on table for an entire month 5. Earned RM300k worth of exposure via 6 digital publications: The Sun Daily, The New Straits Times. Astro Awani, The Rojak Daily, and Wiki Impact.