18 AUGUST 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.
- Innovation of the Week: Thailand’s hottest live entertainment venue
- Fax, No Printer: Dessert takeover in Indonesia
- Regional Round-up: Revolutionizing fantasy sports, uplifting indigenous peoples, and a sprinkling of web3 updates
Innovation of the Week
🎭 LIVE IN SEA
We start this week with a big congratulations to two giants of industry coming together to unveil Southeast Asia’s most dynamic live entertainment venue. Readers of this newsletter will know of our longstanding affinity for AEG and their forward looking approach to entertainment districts and venues. First it was LA Live and O2 London in 2007, then the two Mercedes-Benz Arenas in Berlin (2008) and Shanghai (2010), followed by T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas in 2016, and the upcoming Seoul venue slated for 2024.
Now, enter ‘UOB LIVE’ in Bangkok, a cutting-edge entertainment venue unveiled by AEG in partnership with UOB and Thailand’s EM District just this week. Located at The EMSHPERE shopping mall on Bangkok’s lively Sukhumvit stretch, the 6000-pax capacity venue is well-positioned to be a premier entertainment destination, bringing in international performances and sporting events to the region.
💡 Our take
The booming culture economy and consumer demand for live experiences show no signs of slowing down, and Southeast Asia is well-poised to capture it. Singapore is establishing itself as a live performance hub in the region, with global music acts playing multiple sold-out nights. Already emerging as a strong exporter of the T-wave abroad, Thailand is now investing into new infrastructure at home.
At the forefront of this cultural wave, AEG is playing a major role in ushering a new era of live entertainment into the region. The launch of new venues like UOB LIVE, which features comprehensive spaces combined with diverse dining, retail, and lifestyle options, means opportunities for new forms of programming for consumers. The key lesson here? The growth of cultural ‘hardware’ (venues, spaces, etc.) will allow cultural ‘software’ (content and experiences) to thrive. Which area is your brand best-positioned to play a meaningful role in?
UOB is also signaling their continued commitment to culture through this latest naming rights partnership. UOB LIVE will strengthen the bank’s position as the purveyor of the most sought-after cultural and lifestyle experiences, a role that delivers both functional benefit to and emotional affinity with consumers. After all, UOB is not a stranger to the power of translating cultural advantage into commercial results – UOB’s partnership with Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour in July resulted in a surge of new applications for credit cards (+45%) and debit cards (+130%).
The significance of the cultural economy in the region has never been greater, and so is the opportunity for marketers to build relevance and equity with consumers through culture. How will your brand join the party?
Fax, No Printer*
For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’
Which dessert chain is taking over Indonesia?
KOI Bubble Tea
Potong Ice Cream
Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the correct answer!
💿 FIFTY FIFTY’s Cupid tied with BTS’ Butter this week to become the third longest-charting K-pop song on Billboard’s Hot 100, making FIFTY FIFTY the longest-charting K-pop girl group on the list. Earlier in the month we discussed the meteoric rise of NewJeans and the future of K-pop – FIFTY FIFTY’s record-breaking streak this week is just the latest sign that the time for 4th gen K-pop acts is now.
⚽ Singapore-based digital football fan platform ZujuGP, helmed by Kiat Lim and fronted by Cristiano Ronaldo, just launched Zuju Kickoff – a fantasy football game offering a second-screen experience for fans to play along in real-time during a football match. Already sitting at the intersection of sports and gaming, Zuju Kickoff is raising the bar for immersive fan participation.
🦎 In other SEA gaming news, Mojiken Studio (the folks behind internationally well-received A Space For The Unbound) have launched two new prototypes. Tails and Trails is a narrative pet walking simulator where players have to take care of a three-headed lizard, while Project Spring Break is a visual novel game about a local innkeeper diagnosing her guests’ various ailments. SEA cultural creators are on a roll – how might your brand celebrate or collaborate with them?
🎧Thailand-based Hear and Found aims to fight discrimination against indigenous peoples by empowering local musicians to tell their stories. The audio platform tells the stories of these ethnic communities through music and ‘sounds of the countryside’ – birdsong, running rivers, the sound of the weaving loom. Audio is a favorite medium among digitally-fatigued young people, and Hear and Found is utilizing the medium in a creative way.
⚠️ICYMI: The buzz around web3 has died down this year, but brand experiments are still on. This week, Manchester City Football Club partnered with K-pop group TXT for a Roblox experience – that definitely was not on our 2023 Bingo card! Additionally, Jay Chou’s streetwear brand PHANTACi launched a shoppable virtual world where visitors could do everything from traveling through time (inspired by Jay Chou’s movie Secret) to buying a virtual home. We’ll be watching how these develop!
This Week's Trivia Answer
Hailing from China, this dessert chain selling fresh ice cream and tea, first opened in Indonesia in 2020. Since then, it has opened more than 1000 outlets in the country (as a reference, as of 2021, popular bubble tea chain KOI ‘only’ had 270 outlets across all of Southeast Asia) and frequently made it onto the Twitter Trending Topics list.
Analysts have attributed Mixue’s success to various factors (both economic and political) and we know Southeast Asians love our drinks. But ultimately, Mixue cemented its position in popular culture through sheer physical presence – everywhere you go, there is a stall. Indonesians now have a saying that any empty shophouse or shopping mall stall will soon turn into a new Mixue outlet.
It’s a lesson that in an age where everything is going digital, physical brand exposure can still leave a more lasting mark. Build a brand that is so ubiquitous in consumers’ lives, they cannot help but talk about you!
🚀 Over and Out!
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Your Culture Mavens,
Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki