18 NOVEMBER 2022
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.
🎮 Some gaming trivia to start: a new report revealed that gamers are multifaceted individuals with wildly different preferences and motivations. 25% of APAC gamers play to be part of a community; 8% do it for the win. If your strategy lumps gamers into one homogenous group, 2023 is the year to start thinking with more nuance!
In this week’s edition:
- Innovation of the Week: Politicians in Malaysia jump on the TikTok bandwagon
- Fax, No Printer: Which new fandom is heating up the charts?
- Regional Round-up: Digital nomads in Bali, voguing in Shanghai, Kpop awards and more!
Innovation of the Week
🇲🇾 MALAYSIA’S NEW CONSTITUENCY
In Malaysia, where the minimum voting age has been lowered to 18, politicians are engaging with young voters on TikTok ahead of the country’s general election which takes place this coming weekend. Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin created a Tiktok video to a hip hop track by Singaporean singer Alyph that has 3.9M views, while Syed Saddiq (a TikTok veteran) is using the platform to motivate young voters. The candidates are using TikTok in different ways, but the common theme? They’re all on it!
💡 Our take
Some political commentators have observed that if Facebook and Twitter are viewed as digital constituencies P223 and P224 (there are 222 seats in Malaysia’s parliament) then TikTok is rapidly becoming P225. Candidates are using the platform to reach large numbers of young voters – which now make up a sizable segment of the electorate – but the benefits aren’t one-way. TikTok gives Gen Z a digital line into parliament and a way to shape political narratives.
Whenever social media collides with politics, questions about integrity and misinformation abound. In Malaysia, TikTok introduced an election report button, fact-checking tools, an election guide, and youth-to-youth outreach through university collaborations. Social media companies need to take responsibility, but creative, pop culture-inspired campaigns can drive digital literacy among Gen Z – Laleilmanino & JKT48’s Berani Bersuara campaign in Indonesia is one example.
There’s ethics to consider, too. A poll by Milieu Insight found that Malaysians aged 18 to 39 are more likely to have less understanding of the current political situation compared to those aged 40+. Should politicians condense complex policies into 15-second soundbites? But if they don’t, will young people engage? These questions run to the heart of democracy in the digital age.
But let’s end this on a positive note. Pop culture and politics are inextricably linked, especially in Southeast Asia where political instability is, more often than not, the norm. Gen Zs are using symbols like Harry Potter and Voldemort to voice political dissent or connecting their Kpop or Taylor Swift fandom to progressive candidates. Through pop culture, younger audiences have an avenue to both process the complexity of politics – by borrowing analogies from a culture they’re most familiar with – and protest for progress. Young voters are making their voices heard – is your brand ready to listen to and champion them?
Fax, No Printer*
For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’
What's the hottest show blowing up fandoms right now?
Interview with the Vampire
Our Flag Means Death
Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the correct answer!
🇵🇭 Riot is opening a dedicated office in Manila, Philippines, as it marks the end of a decade-long partnership with Garena and a shift to self-publishing key titles in Southeast Asia. The office will also allow game developers to localize offerings to passionate players in the region. Mabuhay, Riot!
👨🎤Japan’s biggest boy band is coming to Singapore – and they’re all anime. Strawberry Prince, a VTuber boy band, will perform pre-recorded songs and dances at Anime Festival Asia. The group has over 4.5B views across their channels, and are a huge hit with the anime-obsessed otakus of Southeast Asia.
🏖️ The Indonesian Tourism Ministry and Airbnb have teamed up to promote Bali as the best place for remote workers. They’ve announced a Digital Nomad visa, and Airbnb has set up a site to help movers learn all about work culture, internet access, and the best spots to visit. How is your brand responding to the continued shift towards remote work – can you help more people seas the day?
📀The 37th edition of the Kpop award ceremony The Golden Disc Awards will take place in Bangkok this year. It’s clear that the Kpop industry is trying to represent all the countries outside of Korea clamoring for more Kpop closer to home, with other editions taking place in Malaysia and Japan. Hwaiting!
🧴Strike a pose! Amika paired up with Voguing Shanghai, a platform for the LGBTQ+ culture of voguing and ballroom. The haircare brand tapped drag queens, models, and choreographers to showcase the brand and the underground culture of voguing. Time to give everyone tools to express themselves!
This Week's Trivia Answer
👑 C. Young Royals
Netflix BL show Young Royals just aired its second season. It follows young Prince Wilhelm who joins a private school and falls in love with scholarship student Simon. The show has been lauded for its representation of Gen Z dynamics and behavior, and for its honest portrayal of LGBT relationships, racial diversity, and depiction of anxiety and mental health issues.
We know BL (Boy Love) is heating up, from the uniquely Southeast Asian KinnPorsche liveshow to the success of books like Under The Red, White and Blue. This Netflix show takes all the themes around diversity and love that Gen Z value, and places them in relatable situations that feel authentic for the characters and the audience. One reviewer said that the casting of actors that actually look the right age to be in highschool makes the show even more relatable.
If brands want to connect with their Gen Z audience, it’s not enough to offer representation and diversity. Young consumers need to be able to see themselves in that world, escape into it, and relate to the character’s struggles. It’s clearly paid off – Young Royals has seen over 18M streams per hour. Hats (or crowns?) off to you, Netflix!
🚀 Over and Out!
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If you’ve binge-watched season two of Young Royals, let us know what you thought of that ending…
Your Culture Mavens,
Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki