SPARKS, an industry-first online mini-series, follows a group of young bankers navigating work and their personal lives. Inspired by true client stories, the mini-series depicts how these bankers challenge the status quo and go above and beyond when solving unusual client challenges.
SPARKS started out as an experiment two years ago and eventually came to comprise a full ten episodes of content (including three new episodes launched in 2018). It started out in a team brainstorm, where the discussion was centred around how there were popular TV series around lawyers and doctors and that it was a shame there was so little about bankers out there, that the members of the public knew so little about what bankers did and what their daily lives were like, as well as the positive impact beyond banking and how we are able to spark joy for our customers.
With SPARKS, DBS found a way to immerse the brand in people's lives. SPARKS allowed us to go beyond the functional aspects of financial services and humanise both bankers and banking, thus creating an emotional connection that sustained the audience's interest in a category that otherwise sees largely rationale/product-centric communication.
Since its inception, SPARKS has garnered more than 245 million views as well as more than 24 million engagements globally. The series' success has greenlit preparations for a second season, to continue sharing meaningful stories from the world's best bank from Singapore, the little red dot.
For DBS Bank, 2018 was a seminal year for more than a few reasons. Perhaps the biggest step, as we celebrated our 50th anniversary, was the rollout of our new ethos – Live more, Bank less, thus retiring our tagline, 'Living, Breathing Asia' that was launched 12 years ago.
How can a bank ask its customers to bank less? In its true sense, the tagline encourages hassle-free digital banking, as we aim to make banking simple, seamless, and invisible, so that customers have more time to spend on the things and people they care about and less time doing the perceived 'administrative' tasks that banking entails.
Through the SPARKS mini-series, DBS has created a platform that offers an insider perspective of the lives of bankers, humanising the financial sector and communicating the core philosophy that drives bankers at DBS.
Inspired by true events and client stories, we communicate the belief that there is more to banking than money – that if we can take the hassle out of banking, then our clients can focus on what's truly important to them. From Claire, the relationship manager's perspectives, it is all about seeing the impact the team is able to make in people's lives and seeing her customers dreams fulfilled.
The different episodes depict how the bankers challenge the status quo and go above and beyond when solving unusual client challenges. By giving a first look and some insight as to what goes on behind the scenes in banking, we were able to offer a different form of storytelling that reflects our values to debunk the myth that banking is only about transactions. The mini-series also allowed us to go beyond disruptive marketing and take a contextualised approach to engage customers where they are most active – online. The longer format also helped convey these stories with more depth versus traditional 30s/60s TVCs while keeping audiences entertained and engaged.
Spearheaded by DBS Singapore, we localised and marketed SPARKS regionally (Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Indonesia and India) to build and show a different side of banking – how we enable consumers to live more and bank less. A different roll-out strategy was implemented for each country – India leveraging the star power of cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, sparked many conversations around doing good that culminated in a sustainability-focused initiative to light up a sporting field in Mumbai to empower children through sports.
For Hong Kong, DBS leveraged a key influencer page KingJer to amplify the SPARKS Video. Apart from this, a media video with a Hong Kong stand-up comedian was made.
Taiwan and China rolled out multiple digital pushes including live stream sessions and social media contests around the core content of SPARKS.
Indonesia also took it big with Instagram and user generated content – all aimed at increasing brand awareness in growth markets and continuing to shape perceptions of the bank in the audiences' mind in established markets like SG and HK - highlighting how DBS bankers go beyond banking by touching the lives of people and businesses.
1. Driving Awareness, Affinity and Advocacy in a cost-efficient manner
In total, the SPARKS mini-series has amassed over 250 million views and over 24 million digital engagements globally. Our ongoing mar-tech tools have enabled regional campaign optimisation, allowing us to reduce our cost per view and cost per engagement by over 60% since the first episode.
2. Raising Brand Awareness of DBS and our core values in the region
Inspired by real client stories, we were able to deliver key messages of what the brand stands for in an authentic manner. The creative format (long-form video) allowed us to demonstrate our core values through compelling storytelling, thus enabling a better understanding of our brand. The results also show the series not only resonates with our target audiences but has also helped us gain affinity make inroads in our core markets, as reflected by our quarterly brand health surveys which registered an increase in overall brand awareness, as well as key values associated with SPARKS.
3. Business Attribution
It was important to measure the impact that a brand campaign like SPARKS has on our bottom line. As such, we implemented an attribution model to track impact of SPARKS episodes across business verticals. Overall, we saw a 9% contribution of SPARKS on the total bank leads/enquiries generated, with 13% contribution to leads/enquiries for our premium proposition called DBS Wealth/Treasures and almost 10% contribution to our SME/small business proposition.
4. Created for Advocacy and Recognition from the Start
SPARKS is proud to garner these recent wins to date - a vote of confidence that we're on the right track to securing the hearts and minds of our audience: