14 JULY 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.
In this week’s edition:
- Innovation of the Week: Thai culture is making waves
- Fax, No Printer: What’s the coolest school in Singapore?
- Regional Round-up: Dream houses, Colonel Town and ice cream nostalgia
Innovation of the Week
🌊🇹🇭RIDING THE T-WAVE
One of the biggest emerging themes we have been discussing in Culture Wire is Southeast Asia’s rise as a cultural exporter. Earlier this week, the South China Morning Post reported that Thailand and its T-wave, in particular, are making ripples across Asia and beyond. K-culture fans, in particular, are increasingly turning to Thai music and drama. Let’s unpack Thailand’s cultural strategy, and what it means for brands.
💡 Our take
South Korea pioneered a blueprint to harness culture – both for soft power and economic purposes – and found massive success. Southeast Asian countries, originally the prime target market for said cultural exports, are now experimenting with it in different ways. Thailand in particular is thriving through T-music and T-dramas, especially Boy’s Love (BL).
First, let’s break down why fans – particularly K-pop fans – are turning to Thai music. Thai K-pop stars like BLACKPINK’s Lisa, BamBam of GOT7 and (G)I-DLE’s Minnie, who were initially introduced to appeal to the country’s passionate fanbase, have also helped to raise the profile of Thai talent at home and beyond. Secondly, as SCMP observes, T-pop’s ‘less repetitive’ songs are a draw.
Regular readers are also familiar with Boys’ Love (BL) title KinnPorsche’s global success – last month, the show’s lead actors were appointed as Dior’s latest ambassadors. Earlier this week, GMMTV (of breakout BL hit 2gether) unveiled a new trailer for the anticipated Thai remake of Cherry Magic. Subsequently, the hashtag #CherryMagicTH became one of the top trending topics in the Philippines. Furthermore, OTT platforms are helping Thai movies find a wider audience and bigger success, as evidenced by the global Netflix hit Hunger.
The government is also actively supporting the country’s cultural exports: Thailand’s Creative and Economic Agency is launching a Content Lab to incubate Thai content creators, while the Tourism Authority of Thailand has launched campaigns to attract travelers through BL. They do have some work to do still – per the 2023 Global Soft Power Index, compiled by Brand Finance, Thailand ranks 41st out of 121 countries and third in SEA. Interestingly, South Korea dropped from 12th place to 15th.
So, as the Thai government steps up its efforts to export the country’s culture and the balance of power (slowly) shifts away from established cultural powerhouses like South Korea, it’s time to consider how your brand can harness this emerging moment in culture. Riding the T-wave could help you build brand equity that’s linked to a powerful new cultural zeitgeist, appealing to audiences in a surprising yet authentic way. And let’s be honest, a K-culture partnership is mainstream by now. It’s expected. How can you break the mold? We can help! 😉
Fax, No Printer*
For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’
What unconventional high school program just launched in Singapore?
K-pop training camp
Taylor Swift songwriting
🎀 Come on J-Town, let’s go party! To celebrate the launch of the Barbie movie, Jakarta’s Neo Soho Mall is building a Barbie dream house – complete with a skate park, DJ booth and beauty workshops with ESQA Cosmetics – allowing fans to step into Barbie world. How can your brand offer fans an opportunity to dive into fantasy worlds? PS: more about Barbie in last week’s newsletter.
🐔 KFC celebrated its 50th anniversary in Malaysia with Kentucky Town, an all-immersive experiential pop-up. Featuring runway shows and new dining experiences, consumers could get up close and personal to the Colonel. There was also a streetwear collection inspired by the food. Chick to chic!
🎮 Later this month, HoYo, the megabrand behind Genshin Impact, Honkai Star Rail, Tears of Themis and more, will launch a series of online and offline festivals that celebrate every single one of their IPs. Popping up across SEA, the festival will celebrate and serve fans from each of the properties in one huge gaming extravaganza for maximum (Genshin) impact!
🥤 Soda pop music? Filipino music star Zack Tabudlo and South African rapper Nasty C have collaborated with Coca-Cola’s new music platform, Coke Studio. The goal of the music studio is to highlight emerging artists, and create ‘Real Magic’. Uplifting and supporting young people can generate brand love. Could you amplify that effect by introducing fans to new artists or genres?
⚠️ ICYMI: Threads, Meta’s alternative to Twitter, has reached 100M signups in just five days. Big brands are already crossing over, with users split between trying out the new social media, or holding tight to their familiar Twitter. Which team are you on?
This Week's Trivia Answer
A. K-pop training
A new highschool focusing on K-pop will launch in Singapore. Singapore Raffles Music College is teaming up with the School of Performing Arts in Seoul on a program for aspiring young artists from Southeast Asia, using tried and tested pedagogy that’s trained megastars like BTS’ Jungkook and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo.
This partnership is just another example of how Southeast Asia is cementing its position as a cultural exporter. And for many young people in the region, this presents them with what still is a dream opportunity. Could your brand participate in this cultural moment by supporting consumers’ aspirations?
🚀 Over and Out!
Who’s your favorite T-pop act?
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Your Culture Mavens,
Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki