If you’ve ever wanted to tell a client or colleague to ‘take a chill pill’ without appearing rude, Singapore-based independent social media agency Protocol may have the answer. Literal ChillPills.
The ‘pills’ are mints packaged to look like medication, and the kits come complete with plastic pill pouches scribbled with made-up diagnoses and fake medical certificates declaring an exuberant, random number of leave days.
The reason for the project was to generate some buzz for the agency, said Kelvin Kao, founder and managing director for Protocol. The kits—while not made public—were distributed to the agency's clients and some members of the media, and certainly caused a few giggles in the Campaign Asia-Pacific office.
Kao added that the team members at Protocol also looked at the project as a way to express themselves creatively.
“This was one project that we thought we could own from start to finish and we could have a bit of fun in terms of the aesthetics and tonality. The team had a good time working on it,” he said.
The idea started with Kao’s fascination with the phrase ‘take a chill pill’, and he decided to make it literal. The project took three months to conceptualise and execute.
“The diagnoses were based off common issues faced in the office. And the hope is that is gives people a slightly different perspective but also draw on the commonality of workplace frustrations,” he said.
The response to the project has been positive so far, according to Kao. “It was way beyond what we expected. Clients really appreciated the humour. I guess there’s a level of pragmatism to it, it’s something you can just carry and bring around. And the turn of phrase was something that appealed to them as well,” he said.
Will ChillPills go on sale or be made public? “Right now, the plan is to have a limited quantity. We release it firstly to our clients. We will [eventually] sell them,” said Kao.
“We were approached by a couple of dealers but my main concern now is ensuring the supply matches the demand. And the team is not constructed to sell, so we do have to figure out the logistics to ensure everyone has a positive experience.”
This is not the first time Protocol has gone off-script to work on a fun project. In 2017, it released a deck of 52 playing cards, each with an iconic image of Singapore on it.
“That project went viral and that was the starting point where we said ‘Hey, we can create something that we can touch and feel’. A lot of our work is not tangible so it was nice to be able to do that,” said Kao.
“We had a lot of earned media from that and we were mentioned in close to 30 media titles, including Monocle. I would say that it was a very positive experience and it was a launching pad for this particular project.”