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24 FEBRUARY 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.

📺 We’re going straight in with the numbers this week – the fine folks at Media Partners Asia reported that SVOD growth accelerated in the second half of 2022, reaching 48.4M paid subscriptions in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 11.8M new customers signed up, with most coming from Indonesia. We can only assume that it’s largely due to our friends at Amazon Prime Video and their tie up with Telkomsel 😉

In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: This LEGO x BTS tie-up is dynamite
  • Fax, No Printer: What’s the tastiest street-side treat?
  • Regional Round-up: Record-breaking anime comes to SEA, tourism partnerships, immersive VR experiences, and more!

Innovation of the Week


In case you hadn’t heard, LEGO is big news with Gen Z. They’re opting for LEGO flower bouquets (they last longer than the real thing, ok?) and love building their own minifigures. For a generation that’s worried they’re overusing technology, LEGO offers a playful offline experience. The brand is looking to expand in SEA – last year the company broke ground on a $1 billion carbon-neutral factory in Vietnam and in the last week unveiled the BTS Dynamite set, which features everyone’s favorite K-pop band on the video set of one of their most popular songs.

Lego x BTS Partnership

💡 Our take

This is one of the first BTS collaborations since the group announced it was going on hiatus. But this concept didn’t come from HYBE. Instead it came via LEGO Ideas, a space where people can submit ideas for future sets. A brand steeped in nostalgia (shout out to millennial readers who remember the space shuttle set!), LEGO has maintained relevance through savvy collaborations with cross-cultural appeal and by tapping into the power of community. Beyond LEGO Ideas, the brand also has LEGO World Builder, where fans, creators, and the brand’s creative team can collaborate on original stories.

LEGO makes for the perfect case study for building successful brand communities that go beyond brand-to-fan interaction. Instead, fan-to-fan connection is integral, with the brand acting as a true facilitator; not a microphone that just amplifies its own message.

Let’s bring this back to Gen Z. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: this isn’t a customer group to just serve, it’s a demographic that’s keen to collaborate with brands, express their creativity and connect with other like-minded individuals. If 86% of Gen Z are willing to be part of a working group for their favorite brand, imagine how keen they are to participate in culture-driven narratives. And LEGO is giving young people, already adept in remixing culture, the space to stitch their passion points together while connecting with their community.

The overarching lesson here? In 2023, engage with Gen Z by leaning into community, collaboration and co-creation. And when it comes to your community strategy – is your brand a true facilitator, or still a microphone?

Fax, No Printer*

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

What Southeast Asian streetfood was just named the second best in the world?

Char Kway Teow 🇸🇬

Roti Canai 🇲🇾

Mookata 🇹🇭

Regional Round-up

Suzume no Tojimari

🌀The wait is over! It has been announced that Suzume No Tojimari, the latest film from Makoto Shinkai (who also created the Gen Z-certified anime movies Your Name and Weathering With You), is set to release across Southeast Asia in March. Suzume, despite only premiering in January, is currently on the top ten list for Japan’s highest grossing films. Gambatte!

Netflix x Tourism Authority of Thailand

🇹🇭Netflix is partnering with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and two other Thai government agencies to develop a whistlestop fandom tour of locations featured in shows on Netflix. The programme will also educate tourists about Thailand’s biodiversity, eco-tourism, and how to uncover more about the destination. This isn’t the first time that Thailand is tapping into pop culture to promote its tourism.


🏹 Meanwhile China’s own OTT platform, iQIYI, has opened an immersive VR experience in Shanghai that will transport guests to the set of their favorite dramas. Complete with boat riding, actual archery mechanics, and a tangible waterfall, it’s clear that iQIYI knows how to make drama come to life.

Knorr Dare to Try Tiktok Challenge

🍽️ Just Eat For Good Day just passed us on the 19th of February, and Knorr were ready to mark the occasion. In their ‘Dare To Try’ TikTok challenge, Knorr partnered with Vice and TikTok to bring together eleven creators taste-testing and experimenting with foods that are future-proofed against the climate crisis and have low environmental impact (read: bugs!).

eLEGASI powered by ROG

🎮 The supermarket chain Lotus Stores have announced a new IRL esports tournament in Malaysia called eLAGASI, powered by ROG. This is the first time that the retailer has announced a gaming activation, and the first collaboration with gaming world giants like Republic of Gamers (ROG). By banking on the enthusiasm of young gamers in Southeast Asia, it’s clear that Lotus are looking for a supermarket sweep.

Pharell Williams x Louis Vuitton new Creative Director

⚠️ ICYMI: In a surprising move for many fashion insiders, Louis Vuitton named Pharrell Williams the brand’s new Men’s Creative Director. Considering the ‘celebrification of everything’, this move makes sense from a pop culture POV. Can Williams live up to his predecessor, whose celeb status never overshadowed his output?

This Week's Trivia Answer

🇲🇾 B. Roti Canai 

Roti canai, or roti prata, is the classic South Indian snack popular across Malaysia and Singapore. The flat ball of dough (hysterically referred to as a ‘flat Asian croissant’ in 2020) is then fried on a flat top and served with curry, sambal, and in some cases, sugar. Commonly eaten at breakfast (although we would recommend it at any time of day), it is one of the emblematic dishes of Malaysia.

Southeast Asia is steadily growing in popularity and power across the world. If the only thing that Southeast Asian food loses to is the iconic, and admittedly delectable, Chinese dumpling, then we’re happy with that. Jemput makan!

🚀 Over and Out!

Thanks for reading Culture Wire. Now that your head is full of insights, take a moment to relax with this tranquil cabin scene constructed from… you guessed it, Lego blocks.

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Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki