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17 FEBRUARY 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.

🤩It was a bumper week for global pop culture: Rihanna’s concert was interrupted by a football game, but brands did their best to keep us entertained (check this round-up of standout Super Bowl spots). Then it was on to Puppy Bowl 2023 – the cutest sporting event 🐶 – and Valentine’s Day, when campaigns from Sticky, Cadbury 5 Star and Perfect Diary caught our attention. And we haven’t even mentioned Hogwarts Legacy, which has been breaking records and attracting controversy in equal measure.


In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: What is up with de-influencing?
  • Fax, No Printer: It’s time to speak Gen Z’s love language
  • Regional Round-up: The K-pop march continues, Malaysian anime in the spotlight… and everyone’s favorite dinosaur returns 🦖

Innovation of the Week


A new phrase is doing the rounds: #deinfluencing. Over on TikTok and Instagram, influencers are telling people not to buy things, highlighting overpriced products and sharing money-saving tips for weddings, vacations, and more. It’s not a new concept, but it’s blown up recently – #deinfluencing now has 169M views on TikTok. While most reports have focused on the link between overconsumption, the economy, and influencer marketing, we’ve been watching this development and have some thoughts

💡 Our take

Industry discourse is touting de-influencing as a tipping point signaling the impending demise of influencer marketing, which sees conventional ‘influencers’ – those predominantly defined by a sizable following and a curated feed of sponsored content – lose relevance with consumers.

In Southeast Asia, however, these conventional influencers have never been the most effective marketing partners anyway. The diversity of the region means SEA has always had a mix of celebrities – wielding more influence in certain markets (i.e. Indonesia) compared to others – and smaller creators, who are lesser known, but hyper-localized, relatable, and highly effective.

A report from 2022 found that 46% of SEA consumers said that ‘nano influencers’, defined as digital creators with 1000 – 5000 followers, impact their purchase decisions the most. That’s considerably higher than celebrities (20.6%), as well as their macro (17.7%) and micro (15.7%) counterparts.

In the 2023 Culture Cast, we also outlined what’s next for the creator economy – the shift towards the community economy, where creators are focusing on genuine interactions with smaller groups of followers. In this new economy, value trumps volume, and it’s rewarded with consumer loyalty and trust.

To sum up: de-influencing in SEA isn’t really a thing, but the center of influence isshifting. Creators are cultivating a smaller pool of engaged fans, and new tools that allow almost anyone to be a creator are gaining traction. As the landscape evolves, your strategy will need to be updated too. Are you ready?

Fax, No Printer*

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

Which of these Gen Z phrases means 'charming and charistmatic'?

Rizzard of Oz

Bantonio Bantderas

Slaydy Gaga

Regional Round-up

📈 HYBE, the agency behind K-pop powerhouse BTS, is on track to become the top shareholder in their biggest rivals, SM Entertainment (responsible for groups like NCT, Red Velvet, and EXO). Both companies’ stock soared after the announcement but fans expressed concern about what this would mean for smaller acts – HYBE promised SM Entertainment would retain its independence.

🎧 Sticking with K-pop, BTS’ hit single Boy With Luv just became the first Korean language song to hit 1B streams on Spotify. Since its 2019 release, Boy With Luv has been recognized as BTS’ crossover hit, earning it a spot on the video game JustDance. It really is just HYBE’s world… we’re just living in it.

🌱 Healthcare and beauty retailer Watsons is teaming up with the boy band MIRROR to bring sustainability to consumers. Select stores will be made low-carbon, and consumers will be invited to complete green tasks throughout the six week campaign. Could a pop culture partnership extend the reach of your sustainability activations?

🏆 Malaysian animation series, Mechamoto by MONSTA, is the first animation series originating from outside of Japan to win the prestigious Anime Fan Award at the Tokyo Anime Awards Festival. The show highlights key points of Malaysian culture, from Peranakan people to silat, and shines a spotlight on everything uniquely Melayu. We’ve said it before – SEA culture is getting exported to new genres.

⚠️ ICYMI: I love you, you love me, Mattel will be relaunching Barney! 💜Readers of Culture Wire will remember that we said 2023 will be the year of the kidult… we’re happy to see that Mattel agrees.

This Week's Trivia Answer

😏 A. Rizzard of Oz

This comes from the phrase ‘rizz’, meaning ‘cha-rizz-ma’. Being a rizzard means that your personality is immediately attractive. Think Han Solo, Ryan Reynolds, or Ms. Piggy – those individuals that strangers fall over themselves to take out.

Gen Z slang is deeply puzzling to those not in the know, and the younger demographic prefers it that way. Their relationship with words is constantly evolving – as they cancel emojis, learn to talk around the algorithm (ever noticed how people are saying ‘unalive’ instead of ‘die’?), and incorporate new languages. What linguistic peculiarity will this multicultural, multilingual generation adopt next? Think of Culture Group as your Gen Z dictionary! 📕

🚀 Over and Out!

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Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki