VMLY&R wins unconventional pitch to fight mental health taboos in Malaysia

Global brand and customer experience agency VMLY&R Singapore, in partnership with content experience agency Hogarth Malaysia, has won a bid for an innovative new mental health awareness campaign for FWD Takaful.

Won by competitive tender, the pitch shared by FWD Takaful also took the topic of mental health to heart through the pitch process itself. Based on insights around how advertising industry professionals struggle to focus on their mental health whilst keeping up with the demands of clients and pitching, FWD Takaful was keen to make sure that their pitch would be different. 

For agencies, it is no secret that pitching for new business can be stressful. Understanding that a lot of anxiety is linked to unrealistic client briefs, timelines, expectations and budgets, FWD Takaful set out to create a pitching process to minimise these stressors for the teams involved.

This saw FWD Takaful working closely with the pitching agencies on an open creative brief, which could be delivered on a flexible timeline, and simultaneously giving them access to FWD’s Mind Strength services.

Won by VMLY&R, the campaign aims to overcome Malaysian cultural taboos around talking about mental health. Set to launch in January 2024, it aims to tap into Malaysia’s love of music to raise awareness and generate conversations around mental health.

Set to run for three months, with an outline scope which is likely to include film, video, digital, EDM, out-of-home (OOH), event / activation and radio, VMLY&R’s winning idea is still under wraps until it’s launch next year. 

According to FWD Group’s Mental Health Survey in 2022, 62% of Malaysians have experiencedmental health challenges and severe social disapproval or know someone who has. People in the country are fearful of admitting to having even mild mental health challenges due to stigma and taboos, which impacts their ability to access medical help.

VMLY&R’s campaign aims to normalise and destigmatise this issue across the country by highlighting the benefits of having conversations about our negative feelings.

Social change starts with a conversation and talking about your problems can offer serious relief, so the new campaign aims to highlight this point and encourage open conversation in Malaysia as an antidote to the current stigma, said Raymond Chin, Chief Creative Officer, Asia at VMLY&R.

It was refreshing to work on a pitch where the client understood the issues faced by agency teams and was willing to create a pitch brief that made the agencies’ mental health a priority.

Everyone benefitted from the way FWD Takaful ran this pitch – the client got better ideas out of it, and the agency team was able to dedicate time and resources while making sure their mental health was taken care of,” he said.


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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

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