MEDIA & MARKETING | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Singapore

This bold ad film tells you what happens when maids are not given their due day off

‘Mums & Maids’ generated 5 million views in 5 days.

The International Labor Day just came to pass but the plight of domestic workers or ‘maids’ that work for months or years on end with no rest days is far from over.

Released in line with the campaign to give domestic workers their due day off, the “Mums and Maids” short film is making a buzz in the social media as it ‘provocatively’ highlights an interesting yet worrisome trend in Singapore households. Created by Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) Singapore, in association with a non-profit organization, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), the two-minute video shows interviews with mothers, children and their maids through a series of questions and answers. The video, which implies that domestic workers know their employer's kids better while the mums fumble for answers, demonstrates the importance of spending quality time with children. The solution it suggests is giving the domestic workers the day off they deserve for parents to spend more time with their kids.

This campaign focuses around the idea that what may help parents to bond with their children is also a fundamental worker’s right: a weekly day off. To send this idea to the public, O&M created a short film called “Mums & Maids” which shows both women being quizzed on the habits and thoughts of the young children in the family, before the children answer the questions themselves. It seeks to convince employers to give domestic workers their day off by shifting perceptions amongst families so that they view the domestic worker’s absence as an opportunity to bond with their children, rather than as an inconvenience.

Citing publicly available data, O&M Singapore says that one in five households in Singapore today employ a domestic worker, primarily those with children or elderly parents. It notes that while a healthy employer-employee relationship is essential, a problem is said to arise when employers do not allow their domestic workers to take a rest day each week or informally ‘buy out’ their legally required day off by promising them payment in-lieu.

“Latest figures from the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) estimate that approximately 40 percent of Singapore’s 222,500 domestic workers do not have a weekly day off, despite a law coming into effect in January 2013 making it mandatory. With the majority of Singapore’s domestic workers being far away from their families in the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar, working endlessly with no breaks for personal time or rest often leads to homesickness and mental health problems such as depression,” says O&M Singapore.

Noorashikin Abdul Rahman, president of TWC2, said O&M has made a provocative video that will arouse debate. At TWC2, they hope it will contribute to a constructive re-examination of employers’ relationship with their domestic workers.

According to Eugene Cheong, chief creative officer of O&M Asia Pacific, the West sees domestic workers as a luxury, but in many cases in Asia and the emerging world, hiring domestic help is the only solution that allows both parents to work outside the home to support their families. This communication, he said, is ultimately intended for anyone that employs domestic workers.

Eugene added that the film is ‘deliberately confronting’ because they need it to be effective. “It must actually change behavior. So we focused the creative strategy on tapping into modern parents’ fear of missing out. By showing how parents are losing out on their relationship with their children by always requiring their domestic worker to be around, we reposition their day off as an opportunity to enhance family bonding,” said Eugene.

Since the launch of the “Mums and Maids” film, it has already been viewed nearly 60,000 times on YouTube in just 24 hours and over 5 million views in 5 days. The O&M team is also aiming to encourage people to pledge their support to the issue on the igiveadayoff.org page.

Click here for the campaign's website. 

Click here to view the short film.

Credits: Ogilvy & Mather Singapore 

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