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27 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.

In this week’s edition: 

  • Innovation of the Week: Anime’s regional and global takeover
  • Fax, No Printer: How are HYBE amping the fan experience?
  • Regional Round-up: Cosplay symphony concerts, Duolingo’s anti-distraction device, the Korea-ification of Vietnam, and more!

Innovation of the Week


An exhibition of the world’s most ubiquitous starter anime is coming to Singapore from May to July, celebrating twenty years of the global smash hit Naruto. The title, together with Bleach and One Piece, is considered one of the ‘Big Three’ – the most popular anime titles that usually act as a gateway for new fans of the genre. The Naruto exhibition will be hosted in Marina Square, with interactive and immersive experiences from iconic moments in the anime, as well as a merchandise store.

💡 Our take

Coupled with the ongoing Demon Slayer experience in Malaysia, the Naruto exhibition is the latest sign that if you’re not already harnessing the power of anime, then you need to start now! Anime is one of the greatest unifying forces in Southeast Asia, with it being the fourth most popular fandom, behind only K-pop, gaming and food. Over half of all adults in Singapore have watched anime at least once – and among those who haven’t, more than a fifth say they’d consider watching anime in the future. 

Beyond exhibitions, there are plenty of brand opportunities in the space. For starters, anime has been around for so long (congrats on your emerald anniversary, Naruto) that it has become ripe for nostalgia-based collabs. If you remember our newsletter on kidults, Millennials and older Gen Zs now have the buying power to get what they wanted as kids. Brands are responding with retro anime collabs like Sailor Moon x Jimmy Choo, Ghibli x Loewe, and even adidas x Yu Gi Oh! 

But don’t think that anime is only trapped in the past. Looking ahead, the appreciation for Anime as both an art form and a cultural pillar is growing. One of the biggest hits in recent times was Trese, an anime-adaptation of a distinctly Pinoy IP, voiced with an all-Filipino cast, set in Manila. Popular global IPs like Cyberpunk , The Witcher, Stranger Things, and even the Lord of the Rings are all getting anime adaptations, proving that the genre has shattered all geographical boundaries. How might your brand champion and collaborate with anime IPs and creators?

P.S. Not even sure where to begin with anime? Don’t know your shounen from your shoujo or from your Jojo? Keep your eyes peeled on this space; we might just have a Culture Drop coming for you! 

Fax, No Printer*

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

How is HYBE changing the name of the game with fandom?

Making it easier for fans to become K-pop stars

Giving fans a direct line to their fave idol’s DMs

Launching the ultimate K-pop world tour – 77 cities, two years long

Regional Round-up

🧂Singapore is enlisting the help of makciks (everyone’s favorite Malay Auntie) to promote choosing low-sodium options this Hari Raya. In a funny and bright campaign, makciks rap about food choices in a way that summed up the togetherness and silliness that often comes with Hari Raya. How might you convey your brand message, in a way that resonates with your audience, through a cultural moment? 

🎤 Hakken Ryou, the Sarawak-born global Cosplay sensation, has been invited to perform during the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra’s symphonic anime concert. Despite Hakken’s popularity, he still manages to blend his Malaysian roots with his touring around the globe. Brands need to remember to keep things both wide and global, as well as niche and local, to stay both aspirational and authentic.

🗣️ Duolingo is taking Gen Z scrolling from mindless to mindful. The app collaborated with Marina Fujiwara, a Japanese creator known for her zany inventions, to develop a device that users can put their phones into while learning on Duolingo, preventing them from getting distracted by notifications. What niche subcultures and creators can your brand work with, to keep delighting your consumers?

💄MAC and livestreaming platform Bigo Live Philippines have launched a transgender talent show, looking to find the most talented transgender makeup artist in the Philippines. Eschewing taboo and choosing to celebrate unapologetically authentic creators, proves how MAC and Bigo are brands of the future, not of the past. Is your brand meeting your progressive audience on the same level?

🇻🇳🇰🇷 Something a little different to end this week’s Regional Round-up with –  this report outlines exactly how Hallyu has gripped Vietnam, from dominating Google search trends to even changing local slang. If you’re looking for a long-form read for Sunday brunch, bookmark this one!

This Week's Trivia Answer

B. Giving fans a direct line to their favorite idol’s DMs

That’s right – all of your ARMY dreams have come true! HYBE are launching a new platform where fans will be able to pay a premium in order to personally direct message their favorite stars through WeVerse. Unlike other industries, many K-pop stars do not have access to their own social media accounts. By opening up this avenue on WeVerse, HYBE is allowing a controlled, paid-for, and exclusive messaging system. 

Fans are in love with their idols as personalities, as they are with their music. They are always looking for more content, connection, and ways to get closer – from being one of the million readers of the ENHYPEN webcomics on WEBTOON, or waiting for the launch of the BLACKPINK videogame, or watching SEVENTEEN go on holiday on In The Soop. Brands that give these fandoms new touchpoints and ways of interacting will win much love and loyalty.

🚀 Over and Out!

Let us know your thoughts on the longform article – we love setting homework. 

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


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki