The Hungry Ghost festival, which falls the 15th day of the seventh month in the Lunar calendar, generally sees many from the Chinese community give offerings to the deceased. Paper offerings are often burnt for the deceased as they are believed to be wandering the Earth for the whole month, and visiting the living. According to the Singapore government website roots, the practice allows the living to maintain kinship with the deceased, and is considered an expression of filial piety to provide the deceased with a way to enjoy what they once had when they were alive.
In line with the festival, social media agency PROTOCOL has put a digital and ecological twist to the offerings. In commemoration of the festival which falls on 12 August this year, it has launched a digital offering concierge on its Instagram Stories. The offerings will culminate in a e-burning ceremony on 12 August at 6pm, traditionally the opening of the gates of hell. Each offering will be custom designed and animated to be burnt in a digital container.
The agency said it began taking custom offerings on its Instagram Stories two days ago, where it prompted its audience on Instagram to key in “what the hell their ancestors want”. PROTOCOL will be accepting customised offering designs until 11 August. According to PROTOCOL, it has since received over 7,000 impressions and over 30 digital offerings in just six hours, which ranged from a Rolex to a McSpicy, and a Spice Girls van.
According to Benjamin Lee, creative director of PROTOCOL, the burning of paper offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival always fascinated the team. “Its practices are firmly rooted in tradition but elements of it have evolved with changing material needs of the living. Paper bungalows, limousines, branded bags have been joined by paper digital devices and vaccination kits. While some might find the idea a little taboo, it is about filial piety, and it’s a part of our heritage that is definitely worth preserving,” Lee added. This is not the first time PROTOCOL has shown its out of the box thinking. In 2019, PROTOCOL launched its own tin of mints that comes with a personalised medical leave certificate called “ChillPills”. The innovation behind the mints came after PROTOCOL’s realisation that working in the ad world isn’t easy and often enough, ad men and women need a reason to just chill.
Meanwhile, in 2018, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) created a chatbot via Facebook called “Mr Woo” in tandem with the annual Hungry Ghost Festival. Mr Woo aimed to interact and educate users who have inquiries about the festival.
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