5 MAY 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.
This week, we launched an activation in Manila with our friends at Prime for Citadel, the platform’s latest spy action title. Citadel: Crack the Codes calls on the audience to question everything they know and crack 8 codes in order to win PHP 500,000. We are waiting with bated breath to see who will become Manila’s top spy recruit…
In this week’s edition:
- Innovation of the Week: Hana-deul-set! McDonald’s latest collaboration
- Fax, No Printer: What’s the latest game blowing up in Southeast Asia?
- Regional Round-up: Spooky time, P-pop, and a mental health Panda…
Innovation of the Week
💜A BORAHAE BURGER
BTS have done it again! The Bangtan Boys have brought out another drop with their two-time collaborator McDonald’s, releasing a line of foods in Singapore themed after their cuddly LINE counterparts, BT21. The meals promote traditional Korean flavors, with packaging decorated by the BT21 characters, and sold alongside a special edition set of plates. This is McDonald’s second collaboration with the Korean group, with the first (we’re sure you remember the BTS meal!) release increasing sales of the McNugget by 250% in just four weeks.
💡 Our take
BT21 is a collaboration between BTS and LINE FRIENDS, where each band member designs a character after themselves in various interpretations – from cute animals and cookies to aliens. Through a partnership with these mascots, McDonald’s can leverage the powerful BTS IP, without actually engaging the band itself. This also allows BTS to engage in initiatives without taking up time and space from other projects – or military service! Now there’s a smart business move. How can your brand develop a high-impact but light-lift strategy that builds on fan love?
More broadly, BTS has always understood the importance of diversifying their outputs, with various spinoff media like the WEBTOON 7Fates: Chakho and a whole new slate of TV shows, to compelling brand partnerships – Tiny Tan Tamagotchis, BT21 Doc Martens, and more. These initiatives leverage crossovers with other passion point pillars to capture potential new audiences, while providing their core audience with more opportunities to engage with the IP they love. What overlaps can your brand leverage to extend your reach?
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 latest game heating up Southeast Asia right now?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
👻 Persona Theory Games is bringing back spooky season with its Malay-horror inspired releases. The most recent release, Karabet, draws on Malay folklore like Hang Jebat, Pontianak ghosts, and even history beats like the Japanese occupation. Ghosts from around the region, like the Pinoy Tikbalang and the Thai Kuman Thong, also pop in. How can your brand marry your audience’s passions with their culture in order to create something unique and speaks only to them?
🇵🇭 The princes of P-pop are back! SB19 have announced a world tour, where they will be bringing their latest era of music across the first leg in the United States – with more dates to be announced. SB19, the Korean-trained but Philippines-raised Philippines-pop band (or P-pop, for short) have been the connecting bridge between the K-pop fandom and the Pinoy community, proving the success of global trends packaged up with local connections.
🐼 Pau Pau the Panda has some advice: take it easy. After learning that Singaporean Gen Zs value their mental health, delivery platform FoodPanda has pivoted its brand message to focusing on relatability and self care (or should we say… self-bear?). User sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive – calling the brand the ‘therapist I never knew I needed’. The lesson to learn? Relate to your young audiences first, rather than straight up selling to them.
☪️ In the spirit of giving back during Eid this year, LG is rolling out pop-up food trucks to three local neighborhoods in Indonesia, serving healthy and balanced meals to residents. The brand is also providing health check-ups for young children. LG has recognised a consumer issue and sought to provide support – how can your brand translate purpose into tangible action?
🇯🇵 Shinkai sweep! Makoto Shinkai’s last two films have become a touchstone of the anime film community, and it’s clear that his latest release will be no different. Suzume has grossed over USD 300M worldwide, becoming China’s highest grossing anime film, breaking records in South Korea and India, and taking USD 5M in the States alone. Anime’s upward trajectory has no limit these days. Watch this space for our upcoming deep dive into the topic!
This Week's Trivia Answer
B. Atomic Heart
Singapore-made, SEA-published game Atomic Heart has been doing absolute numbers on the charts! Released worldwide, the game made USD 2M within the first two hours of going on sale, with more than 49.6% of its sales coming from around Asia. Within three weeks of its release, the game managed to hit 5M players across all platforms – great results from the region’s game industry!
With a USD 5B video game market and 270M gamers, Southeast Asia is ripe for gaming creativity, and we are seeing more titles that draw from the local culture. Indonesia’s A Space for the Unbound, Thailand’s Safehouse, and Singapore’s Cuisineer all feature local icons prominently – from food and drink to the local underground scene.
Brands looking to harness this passion point have the perfect opportunity to champion local creators and celebrate local cultures – contributing to the growth of the space while earning brand love and fan loyalty.
🚀 Over and Out!
Looking for weekend plans? There’s clearly something for everyone in SEA’s latest gaming releases – from scary ghosts, to first person shooters and Singaporean food frenzies. Drop your Steam handle!
Pop culture insights are better when shared. Subscribe, forward this email on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading Culture Wire!
Your Culture Mavens,
Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki