What does prosperity mean to you? For many, it would be defined by the measure of one’s success through wealth, health, and happiness. While true, the word which is often associated with greetings for the festive celebration of Chinese New Year like gōng xǐ fā cái in Malaysia holds many bearings to different individuals for what success looks like to them.
In a more traditional sense, especially for Chinese women, prosperity is often associated by her ability to get married and raise children while for men, it’s quantifying their career-success through their labour and contribution for their family and communities around them.
With the world now operating in modern system of ideas and ideals, Taylor’s aims to start a conversation around the new definition of what prosperity means, especially for women, in their new Chinese New Year ad.
“Like many of our other festive videos, we believe in advocating for changes centered around the values that will help thrive our nation forward. As an education institution, we recognise the responsibility we play in cultivating a mindset that’s open to success no matter what that success looks like,” said Ben Foo, Taylor’s Group Chief Marketing Officer, further explaining that it is important for education institutions like Taylor’s to nurture these principles and philosophies now, especially with the young ones.
Taylor’s Chinese New Year short film, titled 心福 Her Prosperity, places focus on conversations surrounding women’s place in society and the relevance of societal expectations when it comes to determining their own prosperity.
The ad explores the tempestuous storyline of an ambitious Chinese girl named Jo, portrayed by Malaysian actress Ruby Faye, and her conservative mother. The video observes the undertaking of Jo’s ambitious vision to become a successful female head-chef in an industry that is predominantly dominated by males.
The plotline begins in a bustling kitchen as kitchen helpers and sous-chefs are busy in the kitchen. Audience gets to witness Jo as a thriving chef, busy at work preparing food for festive customers thronging her restaurant ‘Xin’ for their Chinese New Year reunion dinners.
In one flashback scene, audiences delve into a situation where an argument between Jo and her mother are heating up. The scene steers the conversation between Jo and her mother about defining a woman’s happiness measured by her marital and parental status.
“The pressure we put on our women to conform to certain ideals or lifestyles that feeds societal norms of the past are ludicrous. In an era where women are holding more executive positions in the corporate world and even accomplishing greater things than their male counterparts, their happiness and prosperity should no longer be confined to traditional societal ideologies such as getting married and having kids. It then begs the question – are women incomplete until they are married? How much freedom do they have in choosing their own path and creating their own journey? These were the lingering questions we asked ourselves when conceptualising and producing this ad,” said Ben.
In another flashback scene, Jo, a junior chef at the time, is conflicted in the dilemma of working overtime and having to leave for her mother’s birthday celebration.
“Chasing a dream often means there will be sacrifices, which often includes more energy, competences, economic resources and support. However, the same is necessary for men, but why is it that women more than men are told to stay realistic? So often women are told to make a choice but if that choice doesn’t align with the social standard, they are warned about toning down their ambitions,” said Ben.
Audiences will also get to witness Jo’s backstory, exploring the plot of her struggles to explain to her mother about her goals and ambitions to study culinary arts and her mother’s initial objections. Through their conversations, audience gets a glimpse into Jo’s life values, as she explained to her mother how prosperity isn’t necessarily embedded by the traditional ideals of getting married. Their argument in the kitchen defines the plot of family values and acceptance that why, despite being a successful entrepreneur and chef, her mother still isn’t proud of what she has accomplished.
As the scene snaps back to the current Jo, informing her brother that she would not be able to make it for their reunion dinner, the video subsequently peels the character layer of the mother in a flashback scene. The mother recalled her conversation with Jo in the past, as she assured her mother, upon the mother’s disapproval of Jo’s choice of profession, how she will be able to withstand any challenges. “It has been years since Pa left us, yet you still managed to take good care of us by yourself. If you can do it, then surely, I can do it too,” said Jo.
The ad then closes with a heartwarming scene of Jo and her family having their reunion dinner at Xin. The tagline ‘Where there is heart, prosperity always finds its way home’ summarised the theme of how family acceptance enables opportunities for women and girls to strengthen their ambitions, their families, and communities.
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