Short List
Product / ServiceMUSIC
CategoryB02. Fan Engagement / Community Building


Name Company Position
Ed Cheong Iris Executive Creative Director
Jessie Lam Iris Art Director
Marilyn Poh Iris Copywriter
Pamella Ang Iris Editor
Jodie Cheng Bradsahw Iris Account Director
Denise Decruz Iris Project Director
Prema Techinamurthi Iris Business Director
Rahat Kapur Iris PR Director
Shaun Mcilrath Iris Chief Creative Officer
Grant Hunter Iris Global Executive Creative Director


Since the frontman of Nirvana took his own life 26 years ago, the music industry is still no stranger to the ills of depression - often with dire consequences. While music is one of the purest forms of self-expression, many artists still struggle to honestly express themselves. In South Korea alone within 2019, entertainer Sulli was found dead in October, Goo Hara in November and Cha In Ha in December. As one of the top 3 record labels in the world, Warner Music wanted to create a safer space for vulnerability, in turn destigmatising the fear of speaking up about depression. The primary objective was to use pop culture to normalise mental health issues and the support for it amongst mainstream consciousness.

Describe the creative idea

In an interview with GQ magazine in 2018, Dave Grohl said that it was still hard to listen back to Nirvana's songs. As on hindsight you see new meanings to the songs that the late Kurt Cobain wrote. This inspired the creative idea that while music is a beautiful expression - it can also mask the actual sentiment that is being expressed. Unsung is about artists taking the brave step to speak up by removing the last thing that stood in the way - music itself. As the artists bravely narrated their poignant lyrics raw without any beats or melodies, the unprecedented rendition made sure that our collective message was heard.

Describe the strategy

To show how depression can affect anyone - artists' representation came from all music genres, from Rap, R&B, Rock, Electro-Pop, MandoPop, Country, to even EDM. And because Asian culture makes it even more a taboo to speak up about private mental health issues, a greater representation of Warner artists were from Asia - spanning Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Philippines. Supported by renowned artists from Denmark, UK, Netherlands, and USA - including artist Kiiara whose poignant hit song "Heavy" was performed with the late frontman of Linkin Park. To normalise the act of speaking up about mental health, the strategy was to leverage upon the individual social influence of popular Warner Music's artists from around the world, on World Mental Health Day itself. At the same time, a PR film that showed collective strength was released by Warner Music across its many global and local platforms.

Describe the execution

From the eve of World Mental Health Day in 2020, 18 Warner Music Artists including Kiiara (2018 Billboard Top Rock Song Nominee), Elderbrook (2018 Grammy Top Dance Song Nominee), Hanin Dhiya (2020 Billboard Top Indonesian Female Artist), Jasmine Sokko (2019 Best Southeast Asia Act MTV Europe Music Awards) bravely narrated their most poignant and heartfelt lyrics raw without any music. Away from the bright lights, in the absence of any beats or melody, the unprecedented and unexpected move on social media took everyone by surprise. Concurrently, Warner Music Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, UK leveraged upon its owned platforms to PR the collective effort by its artists. But on top of the Unsung renditions, it also showcased exclusive interviews with artists sharing openly their vulnerabilities and personal struggles with depression for the first time. This led to further PR into entertainment outlets and even mainstream media to spread greater awareness.

Describe the outcome

With $0 media budget, we received over 1 miillion worth of earned media from popular culture music platforms like 6 K-Pop, Bandwagon, Oke Celebrity, music industry voices like Recording Industry Association Singapore to mainstream news media in Asia. In Asia alone with Warner Music owned social platforms, the project reached over 58 million followers. In Indonesia alone within a week, we received over 300,000 views via Warner Indonesia social page and the artists' social platforms, with over 19,000 interactions over a taboo subject. The project was also featured for a full hour on a virtual march with Go Speak Your Mind Movement alongside other change-makers like the Vice President of the Philippines, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Special Adviser of the Vice President of Indonesia and Former US Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Even garnering support by authority figures from World Economic Forum and United for Global Mental Health.

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