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3 MARCH 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.

🧑‍🎓 A new survey of APAC youth that was just released revealed that, for this cohort, success is increasingly defined by internal fulfillment rather than external validation. With young people rethinking traditional markers of success, what does your brand need to do to keep up?


In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: Made in Indonesia, exported globally
  • Fax, No Printer: Can you guess the Colonel’s latest collaborator?
  • Regional Round-up: RIP Bondee (called it 😉), SVOD giants go head-to-head and more…

Innovation of the Week


Since the start of the year we’ve been keeping our eye on A Space For The Unbound, a ‘slice-of-life’ adventure game developed by Surabaya-based Mojiken Studio. Set in a rural Indonesian town in the 1990s, complete with pop-up noodle shops and internet cafes, it’s a wholesome experience that combines YA romance with the supernatural (there are also lots of cats🐱). The game has garnered rave reviews and won a prestigious award – so let’s dive into what’s made it such a success.

💡 Our take

First, this is yet another example of how SEA’s unique culture is being exported around the world. A Space For The Unbound is allowing a new group of gamers to discover – and connect with – rural Indonesia, right from their console. That’s exactly what game director Dimas Novan D wanted. In an interview with IGN, he revealed that, inspired by the concept of Seichi-junrei, or an ‘anime pilgrimage’, the team set out to bring places from the country’s past to life (mixed with a bit of Makoto Shinkai’s anime films).

That leads to our second point: diversity in pop culture. High-profile franchises are getting more inclusive, but we’re still a long way from true representation. More often than not, these efforts still feel like a token gesture (yes Marvel, we’re looking at you!). Independents like Mojiken Studio are able to create authentic and genuine representations of Indonesian culture because the people creating the games have lived experience. It’s impossible to fake that kind of authenticity – and the popularity of A Space for The Unbound beyond the region is testament to that.

Given this, it’s hardly surprising that the region’s game and film studios are gaining traction. By zeroing in on specific niches and drawing from local culture, they’re amplifying the stories that people want to watch (or play). In fact, homegrown movies have never been more popular at the box office – last year, MD Pictures’ KKN Di Desa Penari became the highest grossest Indonesian film in history in the first 25 days of its theatrical release. Autobiography and Maryam Dari Pagi Ke Malam could replicate that success in the coming months.

If you want to craft narratives that resonate across the region and beyond, explore the niches that exist within Southeast Asia’s rich heritage. Dive into overlooked stories, make them relatable and believable and cultivate a community around authenticity… We know just the agency to help get you started!

Fax, No Printer*

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

Who are the stars of KFC's latest collaboration?

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling from Barbie

Luxiem, a Chinese VTuber group

Uncle Roger, a YouTuber and fried rice critic

Regional Round-up

🔮 That’s one on the Culture Group prediction bingo square! When Bondee launched, we were cautious about the app’s success. And now (sorry, Bondee!) we’ve been proven right. The platform just didn’t have enough to offer communities or consumers, leaving it to languish on the homepage.

👀 Netflix competitor Viu is looking to SEA for growth, especially after their proven success around Asian and local content (think everything from Korean movies to  Indonesian dramas). In 2022, Viu’s revenue jumped by 45% YOY, proving just how powerful locally-relevant content is.

💪 But Netflix won’t go down without a fight – it’s launching a mentorship program curated by award-winning filmmaker Keith Sicat. ‘Indiegenius’ will help young Filipino filmmakers to explore their regional roots and indigenous backgrounds through film, bringing more diversity to Pinoy cinema. If SVOD competition leads to better stories, we’re here for it!

🎧 Has Spotify figured out how to make NFTs work for Gen Z? By token-gating playlists, they’re creating a space for superfans to interact and create. The pilot program will allow fans to interact with their favorite artists in new ways, develop connections in a community, and flex their fan love together. Oh, Spotify, we stan you!

💝 Ahead of International Women’s Day, Hershey’s (HERSHE, get it?) is telling the stories of inspirational Chinese women with limited-edition chocolate bars. Check back next week for a roundup of some of the best IWD campaigns!

This Week's Trivia Answer

🎷 B. Luxiem

Luxiem, the five piece VTuber group, just announced a collaboration with KFC. The group, famous for their jazz and nightcore songs on YouTube, spent the first two months of this year blowing up, and now KFC wants to get in on the action.

Culture Wire readers know that VTubers are virtual YouTubers, streaming behind an avatar for viewers. They can have different themes, from vampires to zombies to AI, which keep viewers engaged and interested in the character’s stream. At the end of 2022, VTubers broke into the top five of all Twitch tags, and Hololive, the VTuber channel on YouTube, is about to hit 2M subscribers.

But it’s really no surprise that KFC jumped to partner with VTubers. From Crocs to scratch n’ sniff nail polish, this is a brand that’s always tried their cluck on whatever seems new 🐔. If you want to see where the world of internet subculture is moving to, keep your eyes peeled on VTubers!

🚀 Over and Out!

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Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki