The world is facing complex developmental, social and environmental challenges, not to mention hardships wrought by Covid-19. As a purpose-driven organisation, we believe businesses like DBS have a role to play in helping to find solutions to these challenges.
We sought to go beyond traditional PR and leverage a creative storytelling vehicle to raise awareness about sustainability and the role of businesses as agents of change. In line with our brand promise, Live More Bank Less, we also wanted to encourage our stakeholders to live larger than themselves by being socially conscious.
We decided our online mini-series Sparks would be an ideal platform to profile businesses making a difference. The first season in 2016, centred on a group of DBS bankers who go above and beyond to solve client challenges, garnered over 250 million views across Asia. Encouraged by the success of Season 1, DBS launched Sparks Season 2 in 2019. Themed “Everyday Heroes for a Better World”, Season 2, which is still on-going, is inspired by DBS-supported social enterprises. It follows the bankers from Season 1 as they partner these social enterprises to create positive social impact. With Sparks Season 2, we hope not only to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability, but also advocate for social enterprises as businesses for good. We want to show that businesses have a responsibility to partner communities, governments and industry to address important global issues, and encourage others to join us in our efforts to create a more sustainable future.
With DBS Sparks Season 2, we aim to:
Themed “Everyday Heroes for a Better World”, every episode of Sparks Season 2 is based on the true story of an SE supported by the DBS Foundation. The DBS Foundation champions social entrepreneurship in Singapore and the region, and has nurtured over 400 SEs across Asia since 2015. Some SEs profiled in Sparks Season 2 include Eve & Co (Indonesia), which is tackling plastic pollution by developing biodegradable, edible packaging solutions made from seaweed; Bettr Barista (Singapore), which empowers marginalised individuals to be self-sufficient through jobs training in coffee brewing; and Eco-Greenergy (Hong Kong), which upcycles food waste by turning coffee grounds into products like compostable cutlery.
Given that Sparks Season 2 is distributed digitally via YouTube and other channels, we have a strong digital amplification strategy to promote the series:
Each episode is also supported by physical or virtual activation events to drum up awareness and encourage sustainable choices amongst our viewership. To support “The Trash Princess”, we hosted a clothes swap event at one of the DBS Singapore office locations to encourage more sustainable fashion choices among employees. Over 200kg of clothing was collected and swopped, equivalent to saving more than 375,000 litres of water compared to if our employees had bought new clothes instead. When physical events were not feasible due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, we experimented with live stream episode launch events featuring popular local influencers via platforms such as Facebook Live.
In terms of partnerships, our partnerships with Wootag and Teads yielded better 100% completion rates for episodes. We also partnered Singapore cinema chain GV Cinemas to run in-cinema ads.
Our first goal is to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability, and educate stakeholders on how to lead more sustainable lifestyles. The results so far have been encouraging. The first seven episodes of Sparks Season 2 have garnered almost 215 million views and nearly 7 million digital engagements across Asia, indicating wide audience reach. More importantly, we begin to see a perception shift on sustainability-related issues amongst our viewership. Out of >1000 responses collected in post-episode polls to date, about 40% of viewers indicated that after watching Sparks, they feel inspired to take concrete steps in the name of sustainability, such as cutting down on single-use plastics, amongst other things.
Our second goal is to advocate for social enterprises (SEs) by showing how their innovative business models address key sustainability issues. On this front, we have seen considerable success as well. The SEs profiled in Sparks Season 2 have seen a marked increase in business enquiries and website traffic following the launch of their respective episodes, indicating willingness by Sparks viewers to support businesses for good. Bettr Barista (Singapore) and Eco-Greenergy (Hong Kong) saw a 40% and 35% increase in website traffic respectively, while LongGood (Taiwan) and REmakeHub (China) saw queries for their products and solutions rise by >10%.
It is also encouraging to see that Sparks has driven greater awareness of DBS products and services. Close to 15% of total website leads (across DBS’ wealth, SME and consumer banking businesses) can be attributed to Sparks Season 2 viewers.