Yasmin Ahmad’s red bra trick

Should try it sometime especially when pitching ideas to satorially challenged Singapore Ministers


Today 20 June

Msian auteur Yasmin Ahmad puts new spinon an old message

FOR YEARS, Singaporean national campaign commercials have often depicted a rose-coloured vision of what life should be. That was before this Malaysian came along.

Yasmin Ahmad, best known for her engaging, award-winning movies like Sepet and Mukhsin, was commissioned by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) to produce a TV commercial to encourage family unity.

Aired in conjunction with the National Family Celebrations, the three-minute TV commercial (really more like a short film), entitled Family, shows a poor, single Chinese father trying to raise his daughter as best he can, as he copes with foibles and frustrations. The message: Families provide the best gift of love.

The commercial premieres tomorrow on all MediaCorp TV channels, as well as selected StarHub channels and TV Mobile.

:In many ways, the ad is a first for Singapore, said Mr Richard Tan, director of communication and international relations division, MCYS, at a press conference.

:Explained Mr Tan yesterday: This is a departure from the past. Normally, we would feature all the races, we would try to have a 2+3 ratio (two parents, three children), and show, if possible, a three-tier generation. (My italics)

:This one doesnt have any of that. So, its probably the most politically incorrect ad weve had. This is gritty and realistic.

:(Yasmin) shows a slice of life that wed like to ignore, he added. We tend to pretend that (bad things) dont happen, everything must be goody-goody and rosy, so her ad is very emotional and impactful.

:I was honoured, said Yasmin about being asked to do the MCYS commercial. And she did it her way without restriction. Well, not much, anyway.

There were certain changes made, but they were little things.

Theres a lot less red tape here than I usually get back home, :she told T:oday:, with a laugh. (MCYS) made it very easy for me. Yasmin :had previously shot a series of community ads for Petronas in Malaysia.

The 50-year-old from Kuala Lumpur even had a back-up plan in case she was to encounter any resistance. Yasmin brought in a set of bright red bras, which she intended to use in the ad, to a storyboard meeting with MCYS Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister of State Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoo.

If they were going to be sticky about my ideas, I was going to whip them out to shock them, said the director. But they were cool about it, so they remained in my bag!

Other differences between this and previous ads besides the lingerie is that this is the first time a national campaign will only be in English and Mandarin, with Malay and Tamil subtitles.

In future, we will consider using a Malay family or an Indian family. Certainly, we would love to use the same format to convey a message. I think its more impactful, said Mr Tan.

And how does Yasmin rate this to her previous efforts?

Personally, I prefer the MCYS commercial to some of those I have done in Malaysia. I think the red bra made a difference.

The commercials will be shown fromJune 21 to July 8.