On the 14th of March 2011, 3 days after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami had devastated Japan, Hollywood-based celebrity photographer, Kevin Ou, felt the personal need to help. Having previously shot campaigns with the American Red Cross, Kevin and his then local representative, Ortofokus Productions, approached the Singapore Red Cross to spearhead a national campaign to raise support as well as drive donations for relief and disaster efforts for Japan. Partnering with a dedicated team of like minded philanthropists, Jonathan Eu, Christine Cheong and Cheryl Ou, they formed one of the biggest national charity campaigns in South-East Asia.

Capitalizing on his specialty on celebrity portraiture, the team decided to collaborate with like-minded local celebrities to start a national celebrity fundraising photo campaign to raise funds for the people of Japan. Many local celebrities have pledged their support and have come forth to offer their services in aid of this campaign. Celebrities such as Fiona Xie, Denise Keller, Eunice Olsen, Edmund Chen, Li Nanxing and Taufik Batisah, amongst others have stepped forward to do their part in providing their love and support.

The campaign name, Because We Are One, is driven by the concept of Unity and Oneness that is needed in this trying time for Japan. The concept of Unity is a very strong core belief held by the Japanese. The “Because We Are One team” approached Master Calligrapher, Miya Aoki and famed Singapore-based artist, Mark Ong (SBTG) to collaborate on the artwork for the campaign. The very core of the campaign are the Kanji characters, artistically incorporated into the celebrity portraits. Kanji characters such as light, love, faith and hope are used to symbolize the outpouring of emotion and support that the campaign hopes to evoke for the people of Japan. The campaign was their way of spreading positive energy to Japan thru the oneness of Singapore.

With the full backing of the Singapore Red Cross, together with main sponsor UOB and outdoor media sponsor Clear Channel, the Because We Are One campaign images are to be displayed nationwide on bus shelters, public transport, public meeting places, restaurants, bars and shopping centres. The campaign has been blessed with many amazing sponsors who were willing to lend a helping hand in aid for the Japanese people.

The campaign images are also made available on Limited Edition EZ-Link Travel Cards, Card Skins and Posters which the public can receive for free with various donation amounts. ALL proceeds from the sale of these items went towards the Singapore Red Cross’ Japan Disaster appeal fund.

Ortofokus is a photography, events and marketing solutions studio that has been, over the last 2 years, collaborating with local advertising agencies and international brands to meet their advertising and photography needs. Counting industry stalwarts such as Singapore Airlines, Citibank and Rolex amongst it’s clients, Ortofokus’ tailor-made solutions cater to anything from the biggest campaign to the smallest project. Together with celebrity photographer Kevin Ou, Ortofokus is now embarking on organising its first ever charity project, with the hope and conviction of using this nationwide campaign to assist the Singapore Red Cross in raising funds for the disaster victims in Japan.

Miya Aoki
Born in Tokyo and brought up in Nagasaki, Miya Aoki came to Singapore when she was 25-years of age. In just 3 years, Miya started teaching calligraphy and has been mastering the craft ever since. Through her lengthy career, she has mentored many up and coming calligraphers, and now has over 100 pupils under her. She is known by her students as the “Calligraph-a-holic”.

Mark Ong (SBTG)
Mark Ong, better known in the industry as SBTG, was first launched in 2003. His first claim to fame came after he won a sneaker customizing competition on the Nike Talk Forum. His winning submission gained massive attention from the sneaker industry, and SBTG instantly became a name synonymous with sneaker design. SBTG designs have attracted the likes of Kobe Bryant, Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn of Linkin Park, James Lavelle, and Q-tip. Since then, SBTG has been invited to commission designs for Nike, Canon, DC shoes, Casio, New Balance, and Medicom, just to name a few. SBTG graciously created a custom design to be used as the core of this campaign. His word Unity is a belief held in high regard by the Japanese people.