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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: Netflix’s latest big bet on live action adaptations
  • Fax, No Printer: Can you guess KFC’s latest collaborator?
  • Regional Round-up: Uplifting local filmmakers, the collectibles market expands, and x

Innovation of the Week


The countdown is finally over! Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the infinitely popular manga One Piece sets sail this week. The inaugural season consists of eight hour-long episodes, based roughly on the first 100 chapters of the manga, or the first 45 episodes for the original anime. It has the blessing of Eiichiro Oda, the famously elusive creator of the original IP, who praised the cast and production. 

💡 Our take

For starters, Netflix has done another good job in bringing to life the world of One Piece. A life-sized replica of Going Merry (the Straw Hat Pirates’ ship from the series) has popped up around the world, from Brazil all the way to Indonesia, for fans to explore. Other launch celebrations include fan festivals in Mexico City, Paris, Thailand, and the Philippines among other locations. 

Netflix’s One Piece follows a long list of live action adaptations (LAA) of beloved manga and gaming IPs. They are notoriously tricky to get right and have had a long track record of flopping – think Ghost in Shell (yes, that one starring Scarlett Johansson), Dragon Ball: Evolution, Death Note, and most recently Cowboy Bebop. However in 2023 a couple success stories have emerged with HBO’s The Last of Us and The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

One Piece hopes to follow this upward trend, and so far, fans have reacted positively, expressing ‘cautious hope’ to the first snippets of the series. In the realm of LAA, not having fans dismiss the adaptation outright is already a major win. Initial reviews from critics have been very mixed, however, with many accusing One Piece of ‘being loyal to a fault’ and ‘avoiding the attempt to find its own style’. 

Ultimately, working with a beloved IP presents a powerful way to borrow its equity to reach an existing fanbase, while elevating a tried-and-tested source material to reach new segments. However, attempting to both stay loyal to source material and experiment with the new medium might mean falling short for everyone. The key takeaway? When working with enduring IPs commanding passionate fans, always have a laser-focused definition of your objective and target audience. In the meantime, we’ll continue to watch how the One Piece adaptation is received by fans…

Fax, No Printer*

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

Who did KFC Singapore partner with to celebrate the launch of a new burger?

McDonald’s 🍟

NewJeans 👖

Fitness chain F45 🏋️‍♀️

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

Regional Round-up

🎥 Calling all filmmakers! The first Canon Short Film Contest 2023 is open for submissions inspired by the theme ‘Harmony in Diversity’. Open to camera and smartphone users in Malaysia, it’s designed to uplift local talent. How can your brand give aspiring creatives a platform to tell their unique stories?

♻️ How can you make your ESG messaging stand out? Singapore-based DBS just beta launched DBS BetterWorld: a food-waste themed adventure game. The experience, which will be hosted within The Sandbox’s Alpha Season 4 and available to the public later in the year, will center around sustainability education, with players earning in-game rewards that can be redeemed via the bank’s PayLah! app. 

🛀 Feel sharp, play sharp… Gillette and Razer have teamed up to release an acid-green razor emblazoned with the Singapore-based lifestyle brand’s snake logo. In an April Fool’s Day prank, Razer teased a shaving mouse – was this an early hint to the community? Either way, this is a smart tie-up between two brands that have a long history in the gaming space. 

🧸 As demand for collectibles to continues to grow, Pop Mart has announced that it will open its first brick-and-mortar store in Thailand later this month. And with the China-based brand also revealing that its first-half profit surged 43% to surpass last year’s total, it’s clear that this pop culture pastime is far from niche. Time to dive into the toybox?

⚠️  ICYMI: Blackpink in your… Roblox area? BLACKPINK THE PALACE is a permanent addition to Roblox, where Blinks can explore more of their favourite girl group’s world. It’s the latest in recent launches of virtual experiences – two weeks ago we mentioned Manchester City x TXT’s Roblox partnership and Jay Chou’s new PHANTACi shoppable world.

This Week's Trivia Answer

C. Fitness chain F45 🏋🏻

KFC is no stranger to out-of-the-box partnerships (remember the collaboration with Crocs?) but this one is particularly random. After all, fried chicken and healthy living aren’t natural bedfellows. But by eliminating the guilt associated with indulgence, KFC wants to help people say yes to their cravings 🍗 

So how does it work? After submitting a photo of the receipt for KFC’s new Cheesy Mushroom Zinger Double Down, customers can secure a spot at one of four HIIT classes offered by F45. The classes will also be posted on KFC’s Instagram page

This playful campaign indicates a broader shift: consumers are looking for brands to alleviate the negative impact of engaging with their products or services. This could take the form of screen-time limits for addictive apps or even lab-grown diamonds (all of the glitter, none of the guilt). So if your brand is seen as an indulgence, how can you ensure that it can be enjoyed guilt-free?

🚀 Over and Out!

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Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki