The winners of the PRHK Young Lions competition this year are Erica Stein, senior executive at Edelman, and Darryl Soh, digital and creative manager at Edelman Digital, for their creative 'Flip The Script' campaign aiming to reduce stigma around mental health in Hong Kong.
Stein and Soh were chosen as the winners from a shortlist of four teams, who gave 10-minute presentations on Thursday to a board of six judges including myself, representing Campaign Asia as a supporting organisation.
As a response to the brief set by mental health charity Mind HK, 'Flip The Script' was hailed as "extremely creative" by Rachel Catanach, senior partner and president, Greater China, at FleishmanHillard and honorary secretary of the PRHK. "They impressed the judges with a compelling insight based on a clear understanding of the mental health situation in Hong Kong, and this insight formed the basis of great idea, which was extended fully in their execution plan.”
Kiri Sinclair, chairperson of PRHK and CEO of Sinclair Communications, said, "Creativity is at the heart of public relations, and our contestants this year proved that there is an exceptional understanding of using sound insights to develop creative communications strategy."
As winners, Stein and Soh will travel to the Cannes Lions in June to participate in the global Cannes Young Lions competition. "PRHK is dedicated to championing the next generation," Sinclair said. "Through hosting the Hong Kong PR Young Lions we are opening up the opportunity for local talent to showcase their skills on a global stage."
Soh, who was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Seattle before moving back for his high school and university studies, said he still hadn't got over "the shock of winning" and couldn't wait to experience Cannes. Stein, who was born in the US and moved to Hong Kong to join Edelman in 2017, said: "This win feels amazing and a bit surreal. Making a difference in the realm of mental health has become a passion point for me in Hong Kong, including the opportunity to lead on creating and launching a mental health strategy within our office."
The winning 'Amgits' campaign
Soh and Stein's winning campaign for Mind HK was centred around their observation that Hong Kongers treat mental illnessness differently from physical illnesses, particularly in terms of how they respond when someone mentions a problem.
"When you have a cold, you might hear things like 'hurry up and see a doctor', or 'take care of yourself'", said Stein. "But when you're not in a good mental space you might hear things like 'it's all in your head' or 'you'll be fine in a couple of days'".
Soh and Stein put forward a strategy called 'Flip The Script', to "hijack" the illnesses people do care about and can easily talk about — colds, flu — and use them to bring to light stigma around mental health conditions and help drive change.
Their approach involved launching what looks like a box of a cold and flu medication called 'Amgits' — literally flipping round the word 'stigma' — which would be handed out during influenza season in July in high-traffic, high-stress locations in Hong Kong. Inside the box would be a paper designed to look like a pill packet that lists some of the most common unhelpful things people say in response to someone suffering from a mental health condition.
This conversation starter would drive the audience to a #FlipTheScript website, where they could find information on mental health via drivers to Mind HK's website as well as videos by KOLs and others speaking about their own experiences.
The extended campaign would see the launch of advertising videos and digital keyword-targeted ads that look like normal Hong Kong ads for medicines such as Panadol, but contain the kinds of 'buck up' statements made to those suffering from mental health conditions - "stop over-reacting", for example. The ads finish with the question: "What if we treated illnesses the way people treat the mentally ill?"
A research project on stigma to serve as a media hook and a 'Flip The Script First Aid Kit' for companies and schools that includes physical aids as well as mental health resources would follow, they planned.
The runner-up campaigns
Taking second position in the competition was Yvonne Kwok from Edelman and Maxson Tsang from Golin, who presented an imaginative, multi-faceted campaign based on the insight that suicide is the one thing, in a society where stigma is deeply rooted, that people can't deny. They planned to use Vincent Van Gogh, who famously suffered from mental health problems, as their campaign 'KOL', building awareness-raising activations around around his iconic 'Sunflowers' and 'Starry Nights' works and galvanising Hong Kong around a #SetZero pledge to reduce suicide rates to zero.
Emma Davey and Yvonne Shum, also from Edelman, came third, sharing a pitch to tap into Hong Kongers' everyday behaviors with simple messaging by deploying new versions of the 'See No Evil', 'Hear No Evil', 'Speak No Evil' monkey emojis rebranded as 'SAL', standing for 'See, Act, Listen'.
Annabel Lee and Crystal Leung, from Sinclair, took the fourth position with a campaign to empower 18-34-year-olds to share their mental health stories anonymously via 'Tree Hollows', the translation for a Cantonese term refering to someone you'd tell your secrets to.
These four short-listers were selected as the best of 17 entrants to the competition, which is now in its second year.
Olivia Parker is also a board member of Mind HK, but played no part in selecting the organisation as the client in this contest.