7 APRIL 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.
💭 Before we dive into this week’s newsletter, a quick insight into the mental health of Asia’s Gen Z. The topline? It’s not good news – over half are struggling, with many uncertain about the future and struggling to find a work/life balance. Time to check in with the youngest members of your team?
In this week’s edition:
- Innovation of the Week: Overwatch unveils a Thai Hero
- Fax, No Printer: Who is Gen Z’s latest heartthrob?
- Regional Round-up: Alt-protein, a surprising cover star, a new gadget for Potterheads and more!
Innovation of the Week
🇹🇭 CHANGING THE GAME
Earlier this week Blizzard Entertainment revealed that Season 4 of Overwatch 2 will include the game’s first Thai hero – Niran Pruksamanee, AKA Lifeweaver. The character, described as a ‘plant-based pansexual’, will channel the healing power of nature, represented through a mandala-inspired motif. According to the game designers, Lifeweaver will represent Thai culture as much as possible and will speak his native language.
💡 Our take
No doubt that characters like Lifeweaver and VALORANT’s Neon – a Filipino character introduced by Riot Games as a ‘love letter’ to SEA gaming communities – are, at least in part, plays for a bigger slice of Southeast Asia’s lucrative gaming market. It’s one of the fastest growing games markets in the world with a CAGR of 8.6% between 2020 and 2025 for video game revenue. Gamers in SEA skew young, and authentic characters rooted in local culture will forever find favor with a demographic that values diversity and representation.
But there’s a bigger story here. Lifeweaver’s appeal goes beyond SEA – gamers from across the world were quick to react to the hero announcement with fan art while others simped for the voice actor behind the character. We’ve previously discussed how aspects of Southeast Asia’s culture are being successfully exported to and celebrated on the global stage (see A Space for the Unbound, or ahem, Michelle Yeoh!). Celebrated additions like Lifeweaver will reinforce the idea that the region’s rich and varied heritage has something to offer everyone.
Two points to wrap up. First: If you’re not already engaging SEA’s most lucrative consumer group (i.e. gamers!), it’s not too late to start! And of course, Culture Group is very well placed to guide you on this journey. Second: can you start building narratives that resonate across geographical boundaries? Even better if they’re rooted in often-overlooked cultures!
Fax, No Printer*
For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’
Who is Gen Z’s latest heartthrob?
Cousin Greg from Succession
Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok
🍳 Anyone for synthetic seconds? Vow, a Singaporean alternative protein company, have developed quail meat out of synthesized protein – AKA lab grown meat. It’s a follow up to Vow’s wooly mammoth meatball, and represents the future of alternative meat options.
☪️ Ramadan has always been a time of togetherness for Muslims around the world, and it’s no different for the community in Malaysia. TikTok has launched a campaign where leading creators can swap tips and tricks with their community, and develop closer bonds over the festive season.
🍗 McDonald’s is harnessing the power of AI for fried chicken. After asking ChatGPT what constitutes a perfect fried chicken, McDonald’s Thailand declared that their new McChicken fit all of the parameters laid out by the bot. Who are we to disagree?
🪡 Ready for some old school cool? Vogue Philippines has featured a 106 year old Indigenous tattoo artist on their cover this month, highlighting the importance of Filipino tradition. Apo Maria “Whang-Od” Oggay is the last traditional tattooist of her generation, and is fighting to keep her culture alive.
📱It’s official – there’s a Harry Potter phone. Redmi, a subsidiary of Xiaomi, launched its first Harry Potter Note 12 Turbo during a livestream event that attracted over 3M viewers. We solemnly swear that we’re up to no good!
This Week's Trivia Answer
🔥 C. Shou Zi Chew
TikToks set to lovestruck music. Hardore video edits. Proclaimed the internet’s ‘Zaddy’ (that’s Gen Z speak for an older, attractive man). Chew’s fans, especially those in Singapore, were very vocal in their support of the CEO, saying that he’s done a good job of representing Singapore on the global stage.
What’s most fascinating is the way that Gen Zs are adapting slang and stan language to show their support for current events. This isn’t the first time this has happened – K-pop stans in the Philippines gathered with lightsticks and chants in support of their political candidate last year, rallying around a shared love of K-pop and political change.
Expect to see fandom continue to pop up in surprising places in the coming months. Who will be Gen Z’s next unlikely hero?
🚀 Over and Out!
Shou Zi Chew or Pedro Pascal? It’s a debate for the ages.
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Lastly, for all our readers and friends who are celebrating, have an Eggcellent Easter weekend 🐰 Thanks for reading Culture Wire!
Your Culture Mavens,
Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki