Short List
Product / ServiceREALITY TV SHOW
CategoryA02. Best Non-Fiction Program, Series or Film where a client has successfully created a reality, document
Entrant Company:BBH ASIA PACIFIC Singapore, SINGAPORE
Contributing Company:BBH ASIA PACIFIC Singapore, SINGAPORE

The Campaign

In Singapore, Branded Entertainment in the orthodox sense (i.e. brands funding broadcast programming in exchange for editorial influence) is only loosely regulated, creating a unique dynamic compared to the UK where AFP, branded content, and long-form advertising all follow a strict broadcast code. The editorial integrity of the broadcaster and the advertiser are pivotal in determining the quality and entertainment value of the show. When advertisers resort to making cheap, 30-minute ‘ads’, it definitely kills the audience’s interest. It usually ends up being moved to late night slots on the schedule, and then never seen again – broadcaster, advertiser, and audience all lose. Quality TV series like “Can You Serve?” built audiences, earned industry recognition, and delivered against the advertiser’s marketing objectives, whilst still maintaining its sole purpose to genuinely entertain its target audience. In many senses, Singapore is the perfect 'lab', where only true entertainment works. Making it all the more satisfying when a brief for an ad campaign was turned into an original 8-part reality TV show, then re-commissioned, and will likely be re-commissioned again. Not many shows worldwide can boast such a track record. Now that’s entertainment.


The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) – the government branch responsible for developing the tourism sector - sees a causal link between the quality of the island state’s customer service standards and its attractiveness as a tourism destination. Traditionally, STB had relied on an annual traditional advertising campaign to promote and encourage better quality customer service. But it was increasingly felt that to effectively address the underlying issue of lack of respect for the profession and enable the sector to attract motivated, young Singaporeans, more of the same was not going to cut it. In 2010, the reality TV-show ‘Can You Serve?’ provided the solution by turning the prevalent misconception that “everyone can do it” on its head. After successfully influencing the public’s attitude to the sector in its first year, the objective for the second year is to increase overall viewership and drive further engagement on the topic of customer service. In Season Two, we took the content to the next level with added tension and drama allowing us to captivate the public by featuring a blind man, an irritated table-banging customer, a father with heart failure, and two friends who treated their puppets as their friends. To drive further engagement, we also created the World’s First Digital Tip Jar - a physical contraption, which was digitally linked up to Facebook. We then invited participants to vote for their favorite service establishment by first ‘Liking’ the World’s First Digital Tip Jar’s fan page. Next they got to watch a 1-dollar coin drop through our whimsical and elaborate contraption ‘live’ through a webcam installed on-site. Finally, they decided which establishment the 1-dollar coin should go to. At the end of the campaign, the establishment with the most votes walked away with the total sum of the tip jar.

A pre-requisite for influencing Singaporeans’ deep-seated opinions about customer service was to get them properly engaged with the topic. We believed the reality TV genre lent itself to our task and in 2010, we created the reality TV show ‘Can You Serve?’. The show turned the misconception that “everyone can do it” on its head by dramatising that the customer service profession in fact requires exceptional skill. We leveraged the consumer insight that the more skill a profession is perceived to require, the more appealing and attractive it is – a positive correlation between ‘challenge’ and ‘appeal’.

The first season of ‘Can You Serve?’ was a great success. A quantitative study post campaign showed that our target audience had a better understanding and appreciation of those working in the service industry and a stronger desire to join it. Season Two saw even better results. Overall viewership ratings for the “Can You Serve?” increased by 8% as compared to the show’s first season, even though the overall viewership for Channel 5 decreased by 8% over the show’s airing period. Singaporeans grew to love the show and continued to talk about the service industry online and offline. Viewership ratings for the show’s grand finale were 67% higher than for the grand finale of Season One and the show’s online fan base on Facebook increased by 400% from 2,983 to 15,164 fans.


Name Company Position
Steve Elrick BBH Regional Executive Creative Director
Shawn Loo BBH Creative Director
Noel Yeo BBH Creative Director
Lesley-Anne John BBH Account Director
Sidharth Tuli BBH Account Manager
Richard Powell BBH Head of Content
Fredrik Sarnblad BBH Planning Director
MEC MEC Media Planning and Buying