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20 JANUARY 2023

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.

🐰 Brands have been celebrating Lunar New Year this week. There are too many campaigns and product launches to list here but some standouts include  Gucci’s Max Siedentopf-directed film, the on/offline activation from Maybelline and Adidas’soccer calligraphy mash-up (works better than you think). Keep scrolling for more LNY trivia!


In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: Are AI VTubers the future of entertainment?
  • Fax, No Printer:  LNY in Thailand
  • Regional Round-up: Cookie collabs, impossible standards, NFTs resolutions… and more!

Innovation of the Week


Can we get a big hello in the chat for Neuro-sama? She’s an AI Virtual YouTuber (aka VTuber) which are animated characters voiced by human streamers. But unlike other V-tubers, Neuro-sama is controlled entirely by AI – the AI controls all the gaming she does during streams and the chat she has with fans. That chat, BTW, is hugely successful. The comments are filled with questions like “What are your thoughts on anime?” and “What’s your favorite food?” Neuro-sama responded very graciously to that – “I’m an AI, I can’t eat!”

💡 Our take

The VTuber landscape is much bigger than Neuro-sama, and whether it’s animated Atlantean citizens or an apprentice Grim Reaper, there’s something for everyone. VTubers have grown in popularity over the last few years as evidenced by the phenomenal success of  VTuber agencies like Japan’s Anycolor, who filed for an IPO in 2022. According to YouTube, VTubers garner a collective total of 1.5B views every month (this podcast charting ‘The Rise of the VTubers’ is worth a listen); it’s also gaining traction on Twitch, with the VTuber tag breaking into the platform’s top 5 last month. Given this broad appeal, brands like Kellogg’s, Netflix and Suntory have experimented with the format.

As we highlighted in our 2023 CultureCast, the creator economy is shifting away from KOLs with superficial engagement with masses of followers and towards genuine interaction with a smaller group of fans. VTubers are just another chapter in that story. The fan interactions – and the individual responses – are integral to Neuro-Sama’s success. As technology evolves, what consumers regard as influencers and entertainment is going to change, too. And as a marketer, you need to think about ways to update existing brand representations, and consider ways how they’ll offer value in the new creators-slash-entertainment landscape.

Let’s finish with a disclaimer. Neuro-sama was banned from Twitch following some controversial (read: offensive) replies to questions relating to topics like the Holocaust and women’s rights. Users were trolling but the replies are anotherreminder that the internet is a deep, dark place and anonymity makes people mean. AI (particularly generative AI) is currently attracting a lot of hype, but the technology isn’t perfect. Brands shouldn’t see AI-nfluencers as an easy win. Human moderation is still necessary, so incorporate that into your strategy from the start.

Fax, No Printer*

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

How are KFC celebrating Lunar New Year in Thailand?

Fried chicken incense

Zinger burger Yu Sheng

Selling oranges in store

Regional Round-up

🍪 The collaboration you didn’t know you needed: BLACKPINK x Oreo! The limited-edition black-and-pink (obvs!) cookies come with collectible cards and launch in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand this month – fans in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam have to wait until February. How will you eat yours?

#️⃣ #CoreCore isn’t a glitch in the Matrix, it’s the latest TikTok trend (396+ million views) that combines various images, collage style. Per one definition, it ‘plays on the -core suffix by making a “core” out of the collective consciousness of all “cores’. New week, new #core. But brands can’t be blasé. Culture and creativity is evolving rapidly – Culture Group is here to keep you updated!

💼 With research revealing that millennials and Gen Z in SEA are putting too much pressure on themselves to achieve, Tiger Beer launched the Bolder Tomorrow stunt. In downtown Singapore, 100s of business professionals stopped in their tracks to highlight just what passersby were missing. What can your brand do to help younger consumers celebrate the small wins?

🥕 Already forgotten your new year resolutions? Us too! The Resolutions NFT Series is here to help… Developed by SEA-based Lion & Lion, this playful collection lets people ‘own’ the pledges (sleep better, hit the gym, eat your veggies…). We’re not sure how NFT ownership correlates to better behavior, but we love the creative twist on self-improvement!

⚠️ ICYMI: Social media platforms love to copy TikTok, and Twitter is no exception. ‘Inspired’ by TiTok’s For You page, Twitter recently introduced its own For You tab, making the algorithmic feed the default (users can still switch to a chronological feed). Expect more UI overhauls in the coming months – let’s hope some are a bit more original!

This Week's Trivia Answer

🍗 C. Fried chicken incense

To celebrate Lunar New Year, KFC released a set of incense sticks that smell and look like fried chicken. They’re flavored (scented?) with the iconic thirteen herbs and spices of the original KFC recipe, and are available to buy in Thailand.

The campaign was quickly pulled, as the incense sticks used during Lunar New Year are part of ancestor worship and part of a solemn celebration during the festival. This isn’t the first time that KFC has decided to do something out of left field – over the years, the brand created KFC Crocs, a chicken-flavored nail polish, and the Colonel Sanders-themed dating simulator.

While the brand’s adventurous campaigns are well-loved and attract attention, respect for local customs and tradition is a line not to be crossed!

🚀 Over and Out!

Thanks for reading Culture Wire. If you enjoyed this edition, tell your friends. Subscribe, forward it on, share on socials, or let us know by hitting reply to this email.

And to all our readers celebrating Lunar New Year – 兔年快乐,恭喜发财!🧧


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki