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14 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.

👨‍🔧🍄Mario number one – quite literally! The Super Mario Bros. Movie is collecting all the coins, scoring an estimated USD 375.6M at the global box office last weekend – the biggest worldwide opening ever for an animated film. Animation – including Japanese anime – is making waves at the moment. Watch this space for a new publication that will explore this with an SEA lens!  

In this week’s edition: 

  • Innovation of the Week: How beauty brand Mad.’s creative community is the perfect skincare formula
  • Fax, No Printer: Which movie went viral on social media this week?
  • Regional Round-up: Malaysian states as fantasy characters, K-pop meets mobile gaming, finfluencer contests and more!

Innovation of the Week


Purveyors of halal ‘acne safe makeup’, Indonesia-based Mad for Makeup is appealing to Gen Z with a potent mix of co-creation and community. Members of the Rebel Secret Society (the brand’s beauty community with 1K+ members) can make suggestions for new products and offer up recommendations. The brand also organizes face-to-face meetings to connect like minded users with similar interests. 

💡 Our take

Community ✅ Co-creation ✅ Collaboration ✅ If we were playing the Gen Z trend bingo, this brand would be a full house! But why does this formula work so well? 

Skincare is highly personal and young consumers – particularly those concerned with acne or other issues – want to know brands truly understand their concerns. Giving young consumers the chance to have their voices heard creates relatability; connecting them with other like-minded beauty aficionados fosters a sense of belonging. Of course, this all plays into Gen Z’s demand for greater transparency and a growing distrust of influencers – read more about that here

Mad for Makeup isn’t the first beauty brand to have a passionate fanbase – hello Glossier, meet Rare Beauty, Fenty Beauty and others. But putting (some of!) the brand in the hands of that community creates a stronger sense of ownership. To borrow from the brand’s website: Mad curates. Our community creates. That’s a lesson brands and marketers in any industry can apply! 

One final thing to note about Mad for Makeup: all the products are halal certified. The halal cosmetics market in APAC is projected to rise with a 9.08% CAGR between 2023 and 2032 and. Given the challenge halal certification presents for international brands, homegrown brands have a competitive advantage. Regardless of the industry you’re operating in, understanding local sensibilities is key. Combining that knowledge with a community-first approach? 💥

Fax, No Printer*

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

Which movie based on a much-loved IP is going viral right now?

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Barbie Movie

Regional Round-up

🇲🇾 Who hasn’t been feeling a bit of Malaysian pride recently? Digital creator Jinesh Kumar has reimagined the 13 Malaysian states as fantasy characters, using Midjourney and specific prompts to help craft the artwork. How might you leverage technology to reimagine tradition, especially for Southeast Asia and its diverse cultures?

🖤💗 BLACKPINK are leveling up! At their Kuala Lumpur concert, the band announced that a mobile game is in the works. Set to launch in Q2 2023, the game presents a new way for BLACKPINK fans to interact and transact with their favorite IP. How can your brand bring new touchpoints to your audience? 

✈️ Love, Bonito is partnering with Klook and The Travel Intern to launch Hello, Ikimashow! – a campaign featuring a two-episode travel show, where four creators go on a trip to Japan in Love, Bonito outfits. It nods to post-pandemic revenge travel and the brand’s pivot from fashion to all-around lifestyle. Ikimashou!

🏦 Sticking with creators – Bank of China (Hong Kong) is running a contest to find the best finance KOL in Hong Kong. Contestants will receive professional training from finance experts and existing KOLs. Can you help creators develop better content and extend your brand reach? 

🍋 ByteDance’s latest foray into social media, Lemon8, is a cross between Pinterest and Instagram, and it’s suspiciously similar to Xiao Hong Shu. On a global level, it’s catching on like wildfire. Gen Z loves it for how quick and easy it is to discover what’s next as a community. We’ll be watching it!

⚠️ ICYMI: It’s official – in the latest of IP reboots, a Harry Potter TV series is coming to Max (the merged HBO Max and Discovery+ platform). It’s envisioned as a decade-long series, with each season based on a book, which will re-introduce the Wizarding World to audiences old and new.

This Week's Trivia Answer

🎀 C. The Barbie Movie

She’s everything. He’s just Ken! The Barbie movie exploded across social media this week, with its quotable trailer and memeable poster format that can be adapted by fans. The posters, featuring different Barbie and Ken characters (Margot Robbie! Ryan Gosling! Simu Liu! Ncuti Gatwa!) include a short slogan. Now, versions of the meme are being made by people using their own selfies, famous characters… even horror film icon Pearl. One of the first memes, starring the internet’s favorite sadboi Kendall Roy from Succession, hit over 27K likes in less than a day. Fans are doing it for themselves! 

Brands in Southeast Asia are also taking part in this meme war, proving that they speak the language of their consumers. From Julie’s Biscuits to Parkway Parade, all sorts of brands are adapting the Barbie format to show off what makes them special. How can your brand quickly pivot to speak consumers’ language? 

🚀 Over and Out!

Yes, you do have an extra 1.45 minutes to watch the new Barbie trailer… 

Pop culture insights are better when shared with friends. So feel free to subscribe, pass this on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading Culture Wire! 


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki