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16 FEBRUARY 2024

Welcome to this week’s edition of Culture Wire, a newsletter brought to you by Singapore-based pop culture and lifestyle marketing agency Culture Group.

In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: What the Disney x Epic tie-up means for fandom 
  • Fax, No Printer: How many people watched the Super Bowl this year?
  • Regional Round-up: Drone shows, TikTok elections, a taste of K-pop, and more!

Innovation of the Week


Disney will invest US$1.5B in Epic Games—the publisher of Fortnite—to create a new games and entertainment universe. According to the press release, not only will the partnership give fans new ways to play, watch, shop, and engage with Disney characters, but it will also allow players to create their own stories and experiences and express their Disney fandom in a new way. It will all be powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine.


While this is Disney’s largest-ever investment in games, it’s not the brand’s first move into the space: the partnership follows failed attempts to develop games in-house and more successful licensing agreements. But the company hadn’t really cracked the formula and, in the light of Gen Z and Gen Alpha’s changing media habits, that’s become increasingly urgent.  

Disney’s press release was light on concrete details, leading to speculation about what the partnership might entail: Game maps for Disney IPs? A digital Disney World? Skins inspired by or featuring beloved characters? But this is much more than an IP exchange. Instead, it could open up totally new ways for Disney fans and Fortnite players to experience their passion points. It could create communities where different fandoms coexist and celebrate the things they love together.

But the most significant part? A marked shift in how Disney views fans: this partnership gives them the ability to create their own stories and experiences. Disney has always tightly controlled its IP, but there are signs that it’s changing. Some of this is the result of external factors, with characters like Steamboat Willie and Winnie the Pooh entering the public domain. It’s also strategic, like its partnership with TikTok to celebrate The Walt Disney Company’s centenary, for example.

Perhaps you might think Disney’s efforts don’t relate back to your brand. But here’s the thing: as fans get used to collaborating, creating, and designing their own experience, the more they will expect this from every brand they interact with. If you need some help translating this expectation to industries outside of the entertainment sector… you know what to do!

A final thought. This is a mutually beneficial partnership. Epic remains overly reliant on Fortnite and is entangled in a legal dispute with Apple. Meanwhile, the house of mouse is under pressure from investors after the MCU franchise underperformed at the box office (sidenote that Deadpool 3 is looking more promising!). CEO Bob Iger must hope that the partnership with Epic Games (combined with a Taylor Swift exclusive and a new sports streaming platform) will turn things around. Although considering that it took well over a year for the LEGO x Fortnite collaboration to evolve from investment to launch, it might be some time before both parties reap the financial rewards… 

Fax, No Printer*

For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’

How many people watched the Super Bowl this year? 🏈

A. 10M

B. 50M

C. 123.4M

Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the correct answer!

Regional Round-up

💋 To coincide with Tết and Valentine’s Day, Tinder is reminding young Vietnamese singles that ‘It starts with a swipe’. The localized campaign promotes a playful approach to dating while reminding people that Tinder is the perfect way to find a partner. In Singapore, the brand launched a Lunar New Year zodiac guide. With research suggesting that young people are losing interest in dating apps, it’s clear Tinder is trying to (re)establish its connection with the demographic.

🐉 The Legend of the Dragon Gate drone light show at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands was almost too popular, with large crowds sparking safety concerns and a revised schedule. Some attendees shared their experience on TikTok, highlighting the crowd congestion. Just last week we highlighted what happens when event organizers don’t deliver what they promise. If you’re planning a real-world event, have you considered all eventualities?

🐈 People under the age of 30 make up a third of the electorate in Indonesia, so it’s not a surprise that candidates keen to woo young people looked to K-pop and TikTok. The strategy paid off: Prabowo Subianto, a former military general, rebranded himself as a ‘TikTok grandpa,’ complete with awkward dance movies. Yesterday, he won the presidential race. This approach which some political commentators have likened to ‘personality over policy’ highlights just how pop culture is impacting election results.

🥤 A new Coca-Cola flavor is on the way, and it’s got Thai K-pop fans fizzing with excitement. A teaser video posted to the brand’s social channels revealed that the K-Wave flavor would be accompanied by a campaign featuring well-known K-pop artists. It seems like the new drink will be released this month (although Coca-Cola hasn’t yet revealed specific markets). Rest assured, we’ll be watching to see how the brand taps into the world’s favorite entertainment genre.

⚠️ ICYMI: After failing to negotiate a new licensing deal with TikTok, Universal Music Group (UMG) removed its entire music catalog from the platform. That resulted in fans—and artists—taking it upon themselves to recreate their favorite songs in new ways. It seems like the dispute won’t be resolved any time soon, but creators and musicians are feeling the impact—even the sound was removed from the recent Super Bowl afterparty TikTok posted by Taylor Swift.

This Week's Trivia Answer

C. 123.4M

To put that number into perspective: it’s the most-watched broadcast since the 1969 Moon landing 🌝 But just how much of that is due to the Taylor Swift Effect? According to one website, 19% of ticket sales for the event happened in the last 24 hours—when excitement about the artist’s appearance reached fever pitch.

It’s not just about how many people watched the event. It’s who watched that’s important—the NY Post reported that women made up 47.5% of the audience. That’s 58.8M women who tuned in, which is a 9% increase on 2023 (the overall viewership increased by 7%). More younger people were watching too. Yes, women were watching American football before Swift started dating Travis Kelce, but she’s certainly helped to raise the profile of the game among specific demographics over the last few months. It’s certainly no coincidence that the halftime ads were also more ‘female-friendly’. Some even directly referenced Swift

There’s plenty more to be said about what this means for the future of the NFL, and sports and branding, but here’s something for marketers to ponder: what if the idea that certain demographics aren’t interested in your brand or product isn’t true? What if they just haven’t been introduced to it by the right person? Or if concepts haven’t been broken down in a way that really resonates with them?

🚀 Over and Out!

Pop culture insights are better when shared. Subscribe, forward this on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading!


Your Culture Mavens,

Angela, Kiko, Ross, Teri, & Vicki