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23 FEBRUARY 2024

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.

In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: A perfect Sheeran weekend for Singapore 
  • Fax, No Printer: Which beauty brand is super popular with Gen Z?
  • Regional Round-up: Good threads, first crushes, fine dining, and more!

Innovation of the Week


Last weekend, Ed Sheeran performed to 60,000 people at Singapore’s National Stadium—a capacity record for the venue and the singer’s largest audience in Asia. Sheeran surprised fans with a very special guest: Mandopop star JJ Lin. The duo performed Twilight—one of JJ’s biggest hits—with Sheeran singing a section in Mandarin (he learned the lyrics just 10 minutes before going on stage!) The following night, Sheeran performed a much more intimate show, An Evening with Ed Sheeran at the Capitol Theatre. 

At Culture Group, we’re proud to have played a leading role in bringing these moments to fans: enabling UOB’s regional partnership with the tour with an end-to-end offering. Additionally, we played a lead role in developing the An Evening with Ed Sheeran’ experience to reward KrisFlyer members with access to a performance at one of Singapore’s smallest venues on Sheeran’s birthday.



When it comes to the Ed Sheeran: + − = ÷ × Tour, the math is certainly… well, mathing! Yes, the two shows were incredible experiences (more on that in a moment) and a sell-out success, but they also helped to cement Singapore as the go-to destination for live entertainment in Southeast Asia. We’ve previously discussed the factors that have resulted in some destinations—like Hong Kong—being left out of the equation. As Singapore provides the backdrop for more show-stopping events (did someone say Eras Tour 💖?) that dominance is unlikely to be challenged. 

Back to Sheeran’s events. Of course, Ed is a consummate performer, but he really went out of his way to show up for his fans in Singapore. The collaboration with JJ Lin and the intimate show were just the start: pre-show saw him attempt to make teh tarik and visit hawker center Lau Pa Sat. During the show, he told the crowd that it was his ‘favorite show of the year so far.’

We know that fans are willing to open their Culture Wallet and spend on experiences that relate to their passions. Seeing artists go to such lengths to localize those experiences and make them even more meaningful will only amplify that effect. If you’re keen to take a share of that wallet, consider ways you ensure the experience goes above and beyond expectations.

Fax, No Printer*

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

What’s the hottest beauty brand among Gen Z at the moment?

A. e.l.f. Beauty

B. Shiseido

C. Krave Beauty

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

Regional Round-up

🐼 Look good and do good! Singapore’s Mandai Wildlife Group has developed Good Threads, an eco-friendly capsule collection of over 200 multi-functional pieces upcycled from pre-loved clothing and materials salvaged from local thrift stores. All proceeds support wildlife conservation efforts in Singapore and SEA. With younger consumers becoming more aware of the environmental impact of their shopping habits, is it time to consider how you can help them reduce, reuse, and recycle? 

🏳️‍🌈 Lily of the Valley, an inclusive innerwear brand based in the Philippines, just launched the Harmony Collection of period products designed for trans men, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals who menstruate. Crucially, the range was designed in collaboration with Filipino trans men. Two thoughts: when developing products for marginalized groups, work with the individuals you’re looking to support. Secondly, consider ways to tackle stigma through the creation of practical solutions. 

💛 To celebrate a decade of Spotify’s K-Pop ON! playlist (3.5M saves and counting!), the streaming platform has invited new artists like ENHYPEN and STAYC to release covers of songs from the sunbaes (senior artists) who sparked their love of K-pop. We love how this nostalgic FIRST CRUSH campaign celebrates OG artists and mirrors fans’ journeys into the genre. 

🍽️ Haute couture or haute cuisine? Louis Vuitton has partnered with renowned chef Gaggan Anand to open a new restaurant in Bangkok (the brand’s first in SEA). LV isn’t the first luxury brand to diversify into dining (hey, Ralph Lauren, Prada and co.) but this new opening highlights the continued shift towards luxury experiences, which are taking an ever-larger share of that Culture Wallet. How will this impact the physical experiences your brand offers? 

⚠️ ICYMI: New week, new AI announcement. OpenAI just teased Sora, a text-to-video model that takes written prompts and turns them into original videos (peep the launch video for some very cute puppies 🐶). Yes, this will turn everyone into a creator, but it will also put new emphasis on collaboration and the processes that lead to creative output. How will text-to-video generation impact fandom and community building? 

This Week's Trivia Answer

A. e.l.f. Beauty

The numbers don’t lie: net sales at e.l.f. were up 85% (to US$ 270.9M) in the three months ending 31 December and it’s the top cosmetics brand among US Gen Z, increasing 13 points YOY, according to Piper Sandler’s survey. Behind the brand’s growth are affordable prices, viral (vegan and cruelty-free) products, and a savvy marketing strategy. Here’s a quick rundown of several notable e.l.f. campaigns from the last few months: 

🧖‍♀️One of the first beauty shopping apps for Apple Vision Pro, your best e.l.f. encourages users to unwind through guided meditations, stretching exercises, and a paint-by-numbers game. Three environments inspired by hero products are also included (in-app shopping is also available).  

🧱The e.l.f. UP! Roblox experience is focused on entrepreneurial skills and topics like financial literacy, with players encouraged to start and grow their dream startup. The activation was inspired by research that found that 62% of Gen Z identify or intend to become entrepreneurs. Per one report, more than 2M users have visited e.l.f.’s Roblox activation.

💄In December, an e.l.f. x Snapchat collaboration resulted in the first Bitmoji Beauty Drop. Users in the US and UK had 24 hours to claim a free digital item for their avatar. They could also try on shades using a lens. According to Snap, 74% of Snapchatter style their Bitmoji in the same brands they were in real life. 

These culturally relevant campaigns meet the target audience in the spaces in which they are active and show e.l.f.’s willingness to embrace new (sometimes surprising) platforms. So, take some time to further explore the case studies and then ask: how can your brand use new entertainment platforms to deliver effective brand messages?

🚀 Over and Out!

Pop culture insights are better when shared. Subscribe, forward this on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading!


Your Culture Mavens,

Angela, Kiko, Ross, Teri, & Vicki