Scroll to top

8 MARCH 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: McDonald’s brings anime to life 
  • Fax, No Printer: Which generation boasts the biggest number of Swifties? 
  • Regional Round-up: Podcasts, Ramadan spending, commuter surprises, and more! 

Innovation of the Week


No, that’s not a typo—McDonald’s is embracing anime and temporarily rebranding as WcDonald’s. As part of the campaign, the fast-food chain has partnered with Tokyo studio Pierrot to create four WcDonald’s-themed anime shorts (watch the first two here). McDonald’s has also worked with manga artist Acky Bright to create custom packaging for menu items, and there are weekly manga comics, too. And this coming weekend, an LA branch will be transformed into an ‘immersive dining experience’, inspired by the isekai anime sub-genre, where characters are transported into a different world. 


This foray into anime isn’t as random as it first appears. McDonald’s has been unofficially referenced in the genre for years, first appearing as the fictitious chain WcDonald’s in the 1981 manga Cat’s Eye. Now the brand is acknowledging that history, with Tariq Hassan, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at McDonald’s USA, commenting that “the WcDonald’s universe is a reflection of what fans have created. It honors their vision and celebrates their creativity…”. 

It’s been over 40 years(!) since that unofficial debut, so why is McDonald’s stepping into anime now? First, the genre has seen spectacular growth in the last few years, rapidly ascending from fringe to mainstream. Second, it’s popular with Gen Z: 42% of US Gen Z watch anime weekly, which is significantly higher than more established cultural touch points like the NFL (just 25% watch that weekly, although that number does pre-date Taylor and Travis). McDonald’s is simply moving into the space where young people are spending their time. The campaign will also further legitimize the passion point, paving the way for more brands to celebrate, enable, and cultivate anime fandom. Note: if you want a quick primer on the evolution of anime, check out Culture Drop: The Anime Impact

Anime collaborations and tie-ups can sometimes feel a bit random (ahem, Toyota 🚗), but McDonald’s has a natural affinity with culture. The brand has appeared in everything from Friends to The Fifth Element and Loki, but it’s also been building long-term cultural equity through savvy partnerships—remember the collaborations with BTS and NewJeans? The WcDonald’s concept goes further, expanding into original entertainment and supporting up-and-coming anime artists. On that point, we’d love to see McDonald’s make this even more fan-centric, perhaps inviting aspiring anime filmmakers to come up with scripts featuring official franchises. 

Some final thoughts: this campaign acknowledges existing fans while inviting those less familiar with anime to start exploring the world. If you’re considering tapping into this passion point, consider how you can take as many fans as possible along for the ride. 

Fax, No Printer*

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

42% of which Singaporean demographic say they are fans of Taylor Swift?

A. Gen Z

B. Millennials

C. Baby boomers

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

Regional Round-up

🚺 Today is International Women’s Day, and brands are showing support for this year’s theme (‘Inspire Inclusion’). One campaign that caught our eye? Vogue Singapore’s podcast series that delves into the challenges women in the region face. Given that Gen Zs are voracious podcast listeners, this initiative could continue to resonate post-IWD and shows the brand isn’t just paying lip-service to the topic. 

🛋 Need a Billy bookcase but live nowhere near an IKEA? Shoppers in the Philippines are in luck, as the brand has turned public spaces (beaches, gyms, nail salons) into product showrooms as part of the #IKEAEverywhere campaign. How might you bring your brand closer to consumers and turn surprising spaces into shopping opportunities?

🚉 Commuters in Kuala Lumpur were in for a surprise this week: the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) MRT station was renamed the TRX Samsung Galaxy Station. It wasn’t just a name change. Commuters could also visit dedicated kiosks to view the device, and existing Galaxy users could redeem MRT credit at the Samsung store in the adjacent mall. Combining the element of surprise with a random act of kindness is a masterstroke!

☪️ According to Critero, during the first two weeks of Ramadan last year, retail sales across SEA increased by 47%, with Malaysia seeing the highest average increase. In some countries, spending peaked during the first half of Ramadan, others saw more of a slow burn. With social media usage typically trending up during the period, is it time to consider how nano-creators can help you craft authentic culture-led messaging that reflects each country’s spending habits?

⚠️ ICYMI: Simplified Chinese is Steaming ahead! New data from Steam revealed that it has overtaken English as the primary language on the gaming platform, accounting for 32.84% of players in February. While that might be due to increased gaming during the Lunar New Year, it points to the growing influence of Chinese gamers despite regulatory crackdowns. Something to consider when planning your gaming strategy? 

This Week's Trivia Answer

A. Gen Z

YouGov found that 42% of Singapore Gen Z identify as Swifties (32% of Millennials say the same, compared to 8% of Baby Boomers). And while 9% of locals say they plan to attend Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour, that number rises to 21% among Gen Z. Clearly young people are the driving force behind the Singapore fandom, but recent stories around the concerts could endear Taylor to other demographics: in a clip that’s been widely shared online, one of Swift’s backing dancers introduces some Singlish to one of the singer’s biggest hits. 

The survey also found that 26% of Singaporeans are concert enthusiasts and claim they have purchased a concert ticket in the past 12 months, and the buzz surrounding Swift, Sheeran, and others could push that number even higher. Are you capitalizing on the demand for in-person experiences in Singapore, and beyond? Does this moment provide a unique opportunity to engage with your consumers IRL?

🚀 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