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21 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: Sony’s surprising money maker 
  • Fax, No Printer: Can you guess the latest historical food trend?
  • Regional Round-up: Box office records, immersive gaming and food trends

Innovation of the Week


Anime is no longer the preserve of otakus, nerds and cosplay clubs, it’s the hottest IP on the market. Just ask Sony. Anime streaming platform Crunchyroll (which the group purchased in 2020) has more than 100M registered users and is, according to Bloomberg, Sony’s biggest money maker. But this is just the start of the story: analyst Minami Munakata estimates that in five years, the anime site will account for 36% of all profit at Sony’s picture’s segment. Goldman Sachs upgraded Sony to ‘Buy’ following the announcement, saying ‘Crunchyroll… is well-placed to benefit from accelerating Japanese anime consumption overseas’.

💡 Our take

Regular newsletter readers know that we recently published Culture Drop: The Anime Impact which dives into the genre in detail. This Bloomberg headline is the latest sign that anime is shifting from niche to mainstream and that the genre reaches far beyond Japan. Crunchyroll expects that the anime industry will have over 800M fans globally by 2025 outside markets in China and Japan, with 200 million of them watching anime on official sites. 

Admittedly, many fans in Southeast Asia still watch anime on ‘unofficial’ sites. This behavior stemmed from the fact that much of anime has often been region-locked – even when fans are not averse to paying for content they love, they still couldn’t access it. In its early days, Crunchyroll started as an alternative channel for fans to access anime, and has now legitimized itself as a platform – some Sony BRAVIA TV remotes now come with a Crunchyroll button. Remember, fans will always welcome brands that enable and facilitate easier access to their beloved passion points.

One final point – Crunchyroll isn’t the first genre-based streaming site (see also Shudder 🧟and History Hit 📜) but it’s one of the most successful. That has a lot to do with the fact that anime is more than a genre – it’s a medium. It’s not restricted to one kind of story, instead there’s something for everyone! And because anime is a gateway to other fandoms – it’s often adapted from novels or games and in turn inspires these mediums – the fan base continues to grow.

Crunchyroll supports this through features that serve behavior native to the anime fandom – like forum discussions, and even creating a VTuber as its brand mascot. Most recently, the platform celebrated the Dragon Ball Super: SUPER HERO anime film with AR filters

It’s safe to say that Sony was quick to spot anime’s potential and is now contributing to the growth of the genre while reaping the rewards. How will your brand jump on board?

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 historical food trend?

Stuffed dormouse

Perpetual stew

Egyptian cheddar cheese

Regional Round-up

🎞️ The Boy and the Heron – the latest movie from Studio Ghibli – was released in Japan last week and earned the studio its biggest ever box office debut. In the first four days, the film grossed JPY 2.14B, with 1.35M fans flocking to movie theaters. And unlike other films debuting this week (hey, Barbenheimer! 🎀) it did that with minimal marketing. Build a powerful IP and the people will come!

🎶 Gen Z in the Philippines and Indonesia love digital audio, playing more than 578B minutes of music. To connect with them, Spotify launched the Music That Finds You – a new campaign starring Pinoy hip-hop artists Nik Makino and Flow G and Indonesian rock band NOAH. Not only does the campaign balance local pride with global interest, it also puts Gen Z at the center of the story.

🧀 Like cheese? Then you should get down to Burger King Thailand to check out the Real Cheeseburger which replaces the usual beef patty with 20 (!) slices of American cheese. The new menu item was a hit on TikTok, the latest example of how brands are attracting attention with surprising menu options. It seems like it will be a limited-edition option – so you gouda act fast!

🌱 In Singapore, Everyday Vegan has launched a crowdfunding campaign, looking to raise SGD 50K to help make vegan products more affordable. Conscious consumers want to shop more ethically, but the high cost of eco alternatives mean it’s not always possible. How can your brand democratize access to sustainable products?

⚠️ ICYMI: Gaming is getting more immersive! Ubisoft and OWO have created a haptic vest that allows Assassin’s Creed Mirage players to feel the same sensations as the in-game protagonist – including blowing wind and dagger wounds. It’s set to launch later in the year.

This Week's Trivia Answer

B. Perpetual stew

Perpetual stew, a dish that dates back to the Middle Ages, is whatever you want it to be and is never ‘finished’. Basically, you add whatever you like to a pot and then boil it day in, day out. In theory, it can last for decades (yum!). Now the tradition is being revived on – where else? – TikTok

Teens and young adults have been gathering in New York’s Bushwick Park to serve a vegan perpetual stew. Started by people who just wanted to experiment with the recipe, it has since expanded to weekly stew meetups, documented online, with over 200 guests bringing items to add. Of course, this isn’t really about the stew – it’s about the community coming together. 

And while the stew itself might seem like a passing fad, the power of online platforms bringing people together IRL is a theme that brands will do well to track and harness. What wacky phenomenon can you bring your brand community together over?

🚀 Over and Out!

Perpetual stew or a Real Cheeseburger? It’s the conundrum of the week. 

Pop culture insights are better when shared. Subscribe, pass this on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading Culture Wire! 


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki