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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: How Swifties broke Google this week
  • Fax, No Printer: How is one brand disrupting a long-standing cultural norm?
  • Regional Round-up: Fan screenings, game shows, sensory pop-ups and more!

Innovation of the Week


In keeping with her long-standing tradition of Easter eggs, this week Taylor Swift teased the launch of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) through an Easter egg on Google. Fans who googled her name would see a blue vault appearing in the corner of Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Each person who opened the vault would get 89 puzzles to solve, and collectively fans had to solve 33M puzzles to unlock the vault and learn the titles of the new tracks on the album. Did they do it? Of course they did, and according to Reddit it was within 20 hours to boot!

(A quick primer for you non-Swifties: the artist is currently re-recording her old albums. Each ‘new’ release includes several songs ‘from the vault’ that didn’t make it onto the original release.) 

💡 Our take

Ticketmaster. Spotify. Now Swifties can also add ‘breaking Google’ to their list of achievements. So many fans were solving puzzles – with the help of spreadsheets and Reddit forums – the vault temporarily jammed, forcing Google to announce they were ‘in their fix-it era’. And while people might think working through 89 word puzzles individually was a lot of work just to access song titles, for fans this playfulness is intrinsic to Taylor’s appeal. They even added an extra layer of analysis – our resident Swiftie proposes that 33M puzzles was a reference to Taylor’s age (she’s 33). 

Of course, as the puzzles were accessible via the Google search page, this wasn’t limited to dedicated fans. It was easy for casual listeners, or those intrigued by the online buzz, to explore (and directly contribute to) the campaign. 

As for Google – the brand itself is no stranger to Easter eggs (have you clicked the purple paw that appears when you type ‘puppy’? 🐾) so there’s a natural synergy. And with young people gravitating away from Google and starting their searches on TikTok and Instagram, this activation could be the start of repositioning the search engine. This won’t be an overnight silver bullet – 33M engagement might seem like a huge number, but it pales in comparison to the estimated 8.5B Google searches made every day – but it could help Google shake off its reputation among younger internet users. 

One final takeaway for all brands. Given the speed at which fans opened the vault, there wasn’t much opportunity for brands to get involved. But this should serve as yet another reminder that pop culture is a fast-moving train that waits for no one. As Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour heads to SEA, the consumer excitement will build. How might your brand tap into this wider movement?

Fax, No Printer*

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

What cultural norm is Samsung challenging among younger consumers?

A. Wedding invites

B. Solo living

C. Beauty standards

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

Regional Round-up

📽️ Next month, fan screenings of the Heaven Official’s Blessing donghua (Chinese anime) will be hosted in Singapore and Thailand. Based on the popular danmei title (Chinese Boys’ Love), the screenings will include exclusive activities and prizes. Although the donghua was released in 2020, demand for experiences that connect the broader community remains. And it’s another reminder that niche is the new normal!

🇲🇾 To coincide with Malaysia Day celebrations, streaming platform iQIYI and Grab have developed a Malaysian-themed mini series. #CedokLife provides insight into everyday encounters through the lens of Grab drivers and delivery partners. There are so many overlooked stories just waiting to be told – where else can your brand look into for the next creative inspiration?

✌️TWICE as nice? K-pop girl group TWICE is starring in a campaign for Filipino snack company Oishi. The ad spot features a remixed version of the 2018 song What is Love? and plenty of Oishi snacks. For extra localization, the nine members also show off their Tagalog skills. The timing is key: TWICE will perform at two sold-out shows at the Philippine Arena at the end of the month. 

🎰 Per the World Bank, just 25% of adult Filipinos have sufficient financial literacy. To tackle this, FWD Life Insurance launched Pinoy Money Master: an online game show that pits Gen Z players against Millennials and Gen X, with a cash prize of up to PHP 100K. But this isn’t just about winning 💰 The game teaches players financial skills in an engaging way via a popular media format. What know-how can your brand share? 

🍹 A drinkable garden? No, this isn’t a new scene from Alice in Wonderland, it’s the latest activation from Yeo’s. Hosted at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, the floral-themed pop-up allows visitors to experience the brand’s chrysanthemum brews in a totally new way. Spending time in green spaces can reduce stress. Can you create nature-inspired pop-up experiences that offer a moment of true escapism? 

This Week's Trivia Answer

A. Wedding invites

In Korea, money is typically given to newly married couples, but the appropriate amount isn’t always clear. To tackle this issue while helping young couples purchase household appliances, Samsung just launched BESPOKE Wedding FUNding. Couples create a list of Samsung appliances and add it to a mobile wedding invitation provided by the brand. The invitation, which is available in 19 designs developed with popular local webcomic and emoji artists, can be given to guests who then contribute towards the items. 

This campaign leans into cultural relevance and tackles an existing tradition that perhaps no longer serves younger people. Could your brand identify something similar? It’s even better if you can rewrite those cultural norms while educating people about your brand in a meaningful way… We particularly like how Samsung worked with artists: the pop culture relevance will appeal to the target demographic. 


🚀 Over and Out!

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Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Angela, Kiko, Teri, & Vicki