A.S. Watson Group Announces Partnership with Operation Smile Global “Give a Smile” Medical Charity Campaign

A.S. Watson Group today announces a global, long-term partnership with Operation Smile, a charitable organisation providing corrective surgery to children born with facial disfigurements. The “Give a Smile” campaign will target to fund surgery for around 1,000 children with cleft palate or cleft lip by the end of 2019, giving them new smiles and fresh hope for a brighter future. This global CSR campaign builds on A.S. Watson Group’s long history of giving; the business began as a single, small dispensary providing free medicine to the needy, 177 years ago.

Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group and a Member of the Group’s Global CSR Committee, says, “A.S. Watson Group’s mission is to put a smile on people’s faces, not only our customers but also the people who most need a helping hand. We are proud to be working across our business units around the world to support Operation Smile, enabling children with cleft palate or cleft lip to smile for the first time.”

Giving a Smile to Children in Need
Founded in 1982, Operation Smile is a charitable medical service organisation, which believes that every child suffering from cleft lip or cleft palate deserve a chance to smile and live a normal, healthier life. According to Operation Smile, every 3 minutes, a child is born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformity in the world. As world population is projected to grow, it can be out of our expectation to have an increase in the new-patient numbers. A cleft can create serious emotional and health issues. If it is not corrected, including difficulty with feeding, which can lead to malnutrition or even starvation. They may experience problems with speech development than other children. Cleft children may also suffer from bullying and social isolation.

A.S. Watson Group has a passion about making a positive difference to people with the purpose of “to put a smile on customers’ faces”. That vision is shared by Operation Smile, and it becomes a common belief that the two organisations can work together to make smile possible for all, so a long-term partnership is developed, providing support to Operation Smile’s work in operating markets around the world.

Global Mission, Local Action
As the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, A.S. Watson Group operates over 14,500 stores in 24 markets. Leveraging such a strong and extensive network, the retail group provides global support to meet people’s local needs in different markets.

To raise money for free surgeries to be provided by Operation Smile, as well as raise public awareness of cleft issues, a global campaign is tailored to different operating markets, across all online and offline channels.

In Hong Kong, for example, Watsons, PARKnSHOP, FORTRESS, Watson’s Wine and Watsons Water are going to launch a series of digital campaigns including a Facebook AR game to raise public awareness about cleft conditions; and many operating markets will also join this social campaign themed under #igiveasmile. The MoneyBack loyalty programme ran a “Walk for Charity” campaign, so customers walking 8,000 steps a day can not only get fit but make a donation to a worthy cause. At A.S. Watson headquarters, funds and awareness have been raised through mural painting activities, a paediatric first aid class and crayon donations. PARKnSHOP Hong Kong organised charity sales of coloring books, and encouraging staff and customers to donate to Operation Smile; Watsons China launched a social game in WeChat and partnered with suppliers for donation-with-purchase. And in Taiwan, Watsons is selling collectible celebrity masks to raise money. Watsons Philippines is donating proceeds from sales of the Watsons Own Brands – customers can also participate in this life-changing cause by purchasing their favorite Watsons branded products.

A.S. Watson Group is also encouraging 130 million loyal customers around the world to participate in this meaningful cause by making donation. Loyal customers from PARKnSHOP, FORTRESS and Watsons in Hong Kong can donate via the MoneyBack app and website, while customers from Kruidvat Netherlands can also donate their points online. A points donation option for customers of The Perfume Shop, Watsons China, Philippines, Thailand, Ukraine and Russia will soon be available.

#igiveamsile Social Awareness Campaign for Cleft Conditions
To educate the public about cleft issues and raise public awareness, A.S. Watson Group has launched a series of creative and interactive campaigns on social media to create buzz and engage staff and customers.

Smile Profile Frame – Facebook users can change their profile frame to show their support for the “Give a Smile” campaign. Add your frame by searching “Give a Smile” in profile picture update!

AR Smile Changer – Using augmented reality (AR) technology, a smile changer is available on Facebook to give users a sense of what it’s like to have a cleft lip, and raise people’s awareness of cleft issues.
Run AR Smile Changer in mobile facebook app!

‘Behind the Smile’ Story Challenge – Celebrities are invited to share the stories behind their smiles on social media, and call on their fans to take up the challenge and share their own stories, too. The aim is to encourage those who are encountering difficulties in life, and give them hope and support.

AI Smile Meter – The game allows people to upload their most smiley pictures and have their smiles rated by facial-recognition artificial intelligence (AI) system. Players can then share their images, along with their smile ratings, via social media. Rate your smile and share with others now!

“A.S. Watson Group believes that our presence serves a greater good, wherever we are. In addition to raising funds for Operation Smile, it’s important to remind ourselves that everyone of us can be a carer to each other. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference to people’s lives, and we are delighted that we can help make a big difference to the lives of children with facial deformities by giving them a smile,” Malina says.

“We know that people lead busy lives, so we hope that by using social media channels to promote this campaign, our customers all over the world will spend just a moment of generosity and kindness to ‘Give a Smile’.”