26 October 2013, by Petrina Kow
In my years of doing voice-overs, I’ve done literally all kinds of advertisements. From cars, to property, milk powder, furniture, budget hotel chains, you name it, I’ve pretty much done it. Some involve a little acting, some are a little challenging, but most of the time, it’s pretty straight forward. And perhaps because I am female, I do get lots of work selling womanly products like shampoo, face-creams and sanitary pads. Now, I’m not sure if my being a mother has anything to do with me getting lots of ‘Mommy’ ads where I have to sell diapers, breakfast cereals, and milk powder, but I’d like to think that it’s also because of my warm, compassionate voice bursting with self-sacrificial love. (cue Mommy Martyr Anthem followed by jaunty laugh…) I jest of course, but recently, I had the privilege to work on something that combined my experience as a voice-actor and my life as a mother in one beautiful little package. Click on this link to watch the video.
It was an interesting journey to say the least. From getting the call that I was being short-listed to be the voice-actor for the job, to them quizzing me about being a parent. I got the feeling from the very beginning that the entire team behind this initiative were taking the handling of the message very seriously. It wasn’t going to be just another ‘government’ video. We went through many script changes and rounds of testing and they even hired renowned director Royston Tan to direct the video. Yes, there is an underlying message behind all those ‘Kodak’ or it is more appropriate to say ‘Instagram’ moments in the film. Gorgeous kids, cute babies, and more cute babies doing cute baby things, isn’t going to make our ovaries churn with an inexplicable urge to incubate one of these adorable props because deciding to have a child is such a wildly inexplicable and ultimately personal decision. Which is why I thought this campaign hit at the right notes as it was thoughtful and nuanced. We spend a lot of time thinking about rather selfish things like how we are going to cope as parents. Are we ready, can we manage, do we have enough money? But we don’t think about that incredible privilege and the responsibility we were given to raise a child. We talk endlessly about how to provide for them and we get bogged down by the nitty gritty of the daily routines, when all that’s really needed to raise a child is a heart full of love and a belly full of respect, which is free of charge last time I checked! I’m not saying these things are not important, and part of being that responsible loving parent is figuring out these challenges, but let’s not lose sight of why we are taking this journey in the first place. And it’s really nice to know that if we did decide to become parents for whatever reason, we do have a society and government that is supportive of that decision.
Here’s the transcript of the ad.
Being a woman isn’t easy.
Balancing work and home is hard
We want to get them both right
And so we search for the right job
the right guy,
the right place to set up home.
And yet strangely while searching,
We miss out on the one thing that only we can create.
A life of laughter and tears
Of toothaches and birthdays
of kites and bikes and homework
We miss out on life itself.
We do have a problem of not replacing ourselves as a population and we just have to look to Japan now to get a glimpse of what life might be like 20 years down the road. However, try as they might, the government cannot ‘mandate’ an acceptable birthrate because it IS such a personal decision. Which is why I think this campaign succeeds in getting us as a society to THINK ABOUT life and hopefully start a conversation about family, children and what we hold dear. Obviously with me, they were preaching to the converted but what about you? What do you think about the ad? I’d love to hear your thoughts.