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16 DECEMBER 2022

Welcome to this week’s edition of Culture Wire, a newsletter brought to you by Singapore-based pop culture marketing agency Culture Group. In this special year-end edition, we’re rounding up five key moments in culture from 2022, and highlighting what they mean for brands in 2023. 

🤖 But first, let’s talk about ChatGPT, which blew up this past week. Curious to discover the chatbot’s potential, we asked it to craft a short paragraph about ‘marketing professionals reaching Gen Z in Southeast Asia’. This is what it came back with: 

The gap in knowledge between marketing professionals and Gen Z consumers is leading to a disconnect in brand marketing efforts. Gen Z, the first generation to grow up with the internet and social media, is heavily influenced by pop culture. Marketing executives, who may not be as familiar with these trends, are struggling to keep up and effectively engage with this important demographic. This mismatch can result in ineffective campaigns and a loss of consumer engagement. It is crucial for marketing professionals to bridge the gap and better understand the unique perspectives and needs of Gen Z.

Obviously we don’t encourage you to default to ChatGPT for all your Gen Z insights, but that’s pretty spot on. We’ll be watching to see how this next iteration of AI plays out in 2023! 🦾



If you’ve been paying attention to Culture Wire, you’ll be fully clued up about KinnPorcshe and the Boys’ Love phenomenon – check this newsletter if you need a quick primer. What we’re interested in is how this genre is transcending from online content – web novels and online series – into the real world. A live version of KinnPorsche sold out across Asia; Thailand (the country that’s almost single handedly responsible for the BL explosion) is tapping into the craze to boost tourism – more on that here.


💡 Our take

The success of Boys’ Love is rooted in escapism, inclusivity and accessibility. Look a little closer and it reveals a bigger truth: in an increasingly decentralized media ecosystem, fan communities can catapult seemingly niche genres into the mainstream and onto even greater popularity. BL was the genre in 2022, and no doubt it will continue to be successful in 2023. But truly smart brands will look for the next cultural phenomenon and work with passionate fans and creators before it makes it big. 


Forget the Prada loafer, the Yeezy, or the sheepskin UGG…2022 was the year for Crocs, Docs, and Stocks.   In Southeast Asia, Crocs landed an exclusive deal with 7-Eleven, dropping merch that celebrated the convenience store. Birkenstock opened a flagship Asia store in Singapore and searches for the brand’s Boston style increased by 741%. Doc Martens were the shoe of choice for Olivia Rodrigo (AKA the voice of Gen Z); the FilAm popstar is rarely papped without them.


💡 Our take

Crocs, Docs, and Stocks are ‘ugly but cool’ and the brands are savvy enough to partner with Gen Z celebrities for extra relatability and hype. By remaining true to their core aesthetic, these styles are immune to trend cycles – and that appeals to environmentally conscious younger consumers. Sitting at the intersection of sustainability and celebrity-approval, with some stomp appeal thrown in too, this Sacred Trinity taps into Gen Z’s comfort x authenticity demands while leaving room for self-expression. Can your brand emulate their success in 2023?


Web3 entered 2022 with all-time highs around crypto, NFTs, P2Es… but it turned out to be a year of freefall. Vietnam-based Axie Infinity, which found incredible success in the region and especially the Philippines, lost more than 62% of its unique monthly users, with the P2E dream resulting in debt, fatigue, and anxiety for many users. Elsewhere, TerraUSD imploded, swiftly followed by Celsius and, more recently, FTX. Earlier this week, nervous investors also withdrew more than USD 1B from crypto exchange Binance. 


💡 Our take

There’s a certain inevitability to the hype and crash cycle of a sunrise industry; it’s one way to eradicate the companies that aren’t offering real value. While some people might be put off the field, it will mean brands will need to work harder to ensure Web3 projects offer real value in 2023. It’s too early to tell how Axie Infinity’s Axie Creators Initiative will play out, but expect more utility-focused experimentation in the space.


Jackson Wang had an explosive 2022. Since leaving his K-pop agency in 2021, the Hong Kong-born musician has blossomed into a polycultural pop star. His fashion line, TEAM WANG, dropped its latest capsule mid-2022. He dipped into gaming and opened Riot Games’ League of Legends Worlds finals with Lil Nas X. He headlined CoachellaHEAD IN THE CLOUDS for 88Rising in Manila and Jakarta, and performed a one-hour slot during a Man U vs. Liverpool match at the Rajamangala Stadium in Thailand.


💡 Our take

Jackson Wang’s crossover from K-pop meant that he already had the support of avid stans, but his willingness to talk about his upbringing in China, excitement for new endeavors, and desire to uplift up other Asian voices made Jackson a cult figure to watch for Gen Z – and for brands. Staying true to what you believe in while exploring something new is a maxim the performer lives by. And it’s one that brands looking to expand to new audiences while strengthening ties with existing ones would do well to emulate!


Dragdagulan na! RuPaul’s Drag Race, the US show that brought drag culture in the LGTBQ circles to the world, was the media success story of the 2010s. Now, Manila Luzon is bringing it to Southeast Asia, looking to find the Philippines’ greatest drag queen. Drag Den, which airs on Amazon Prime Video, showcases drag queens from the country and gives visibility to this group – and their stories – on a high-profile platform. 


💡 Our take

Even just last year, the idea of a Filipino language and culture based drag queen show might’ve felt a bit too niche. But nichification is the key to success, and shows like Drag Den connect with their audience and make them feel appreciated, respected, and understood. Instead of thinking about demographics in very broad terms, consider specific interests and how you can uplift these groups in a way that’s authentic and puts them on the stage they deserve!

🚀 Over and Out!

Thanks for reading Culture Wire this year, it has been a ride! This newsletter will be taking a break for the next two weeks, but don’t panic! A special version will still hit your inbox with some holiday reading, and watch this space for an extended start-of-the-year content piece coming out in January.

If you’ve enjoyed this newsletter over the last few months, don’t forget to share the joy! Subscribe, forward it on, share on social media, or let us know by hitting reply to this email. 


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki