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7 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.

🫶🏻 The UOB Cardmembers Presale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour in Singapore went live on Wednesday and sold out within three hours. More than 1.5M virtual queue numbers were issued. The general on-sale starts today… ready for it? 

In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: Breaking down the Barbie marketing strategy 
  • Fax, No Printer: What’s the hottest new activity for Indonesian teens? 
  • Regional Round-up: Fan-based social media, video game drinks, Pride month, and more! 

Innovation of the Week

🎀 Living in Barbie’s world

The wait is almost over! Greta Gerwig’s Barbie drops later this month and the marketing team have been putting in some serious work, securing partnerships and licensing deals with more than 100 brands including skate brand Impala, ALDO, NYX Cosmetics, Xbox, Airbnb…and Progressive home insurance. More than 8M people have toured the Barbie Dreamhouse thanks to Architectural Digest. Closer to home, we’ve spotted a Typo x Barbie collaboration (yes, you really do need a Barbie milk carton) and an exclusive Krispy Kreme partnership in the Philippines. But why is life in plastic so fantastic? 

💡 Our take

Even before these brand partnerships were revealed, it was clear the Barbie team were going all in on marketing. Remember the viral memeable posters? Fans loved that they could insert themselves into the Barbie world in a playful and personal way. But not everything has been stage-managed. When fans realized that Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s starkly opposite Oppenheimer would be released on the same day, the Barbenheimer mash-up movement sprung up. This newsletter has previously discussed how organic, fan-led movements can generate buzz – this is another reminder of that. 

But that doesn’t fully explain the Barbie mania. Yes, the movie’s 1950s and 60s-inspired style – equal parts kitsch and nostalgic – appeals to Kidults everywhere. The hyper saturated hot pink palette is the ultimate mood booster, and Barbiecore has invaded wardrobes and interiors: Pinterest saw a 1,135% increase in searches for ‘Barbie aesthetic bedroom’ from May 2022 to May 2023. Fans can live in Barbie’s world with branded merch, but the aesthetic is also open to interpretation. In short, there’s something for everyone. 

That choose-your-own-experience mentality is crucial to the movie’s marketing success. There are now many versions of Barbie – in the US, the doll is available in 35 skin tones and nine body types – and there are many versions of Barbie fans. Mattel has so many collaborations but somehow they don’t feel random because fans can engage with the ones that appeal directly to them. So if you’re looking to run campaigns around Barbie or any well-known IP, consider how you’ll take the franchise to fans and allow them to buy into it on their own terms. Beyond showing you understand them, you will appeal to a wider fan base and extend your reach to a broad consumer base. 

We don’t yet know if the pre-release hype around Barbie will drive box office sales (although it’s looking promising) but Mattel are all in on IP-based movies: 13 more films have been publicly announced and 45 are in development. In the coming years, world-building franchises will continue to grow and so will the opportunities to help consumers of all ages step into make-believe. 

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 new activity for Indonesian teens?

Hitting the club, partying all night long, shots shots shots!!!

Reading silently in a park

Jet skiing

Regional Round-up

🇻🇳 From Twitter’s slow spiral to Meta’s new Threads to the disappearance of Bondee, it seems like everyone is remaking social media. Vietnam is no different, with their community-focused social media network, Leka entering Beta this year. The app will put communities and passions at its heart, forming groups around collected interests, in order to engage its user base. Will fan power win out?

🛹 Old-school cool meets new in Thailand, where heritage comic KaiHuaRor from the 1970s is collaborating with a skate store to produce a series of boards. Celebrating fifty years of the comedy strip’s history, the drop will launch with skate stars in attendance as well as the comic artists themselves, showing how Thailand can effortlessly marry nostalgia with new-wave counter culture. How can your brand bring older IP to younger audiences? 

🏳️‍🌈 As Pride month wraps up, we’d like to share some of our favorite initiatives from across the region. The Philippines developed a landmark card system to allow LGBTQIA+ couples to make healthcare decisions for each other; in Thailand, the mall ICONOSIAM had a complete Pride takeover; and this adorable inclusive McDonald’s ad from the Philippines that’s just so kilig!

👨‍🎤 According to MIDia Research, 85% of 16 to 19 year olds say that music is an important part of their life, and Samsung proven they’ve taken that to heart by supporting a music festival in Malaysia. They will be collaborating with Good Vibes Festival to bring global and local acts to Malaysia, like The 1975 and The Strokes as well as Malaysian acts Daaliah and Emo Night KL.

🥤 Mm, tastes like League of Legends… Coca-Cola has brought out a wave of gamer-inspired drinks in partnership with Riot Games’ IP. The drink is inspired by the idea of experience points (or XP), and what it might taste like when your character levels up in-game. The drink can even be unlocked in-game too! How can your brand bring experiences from a fictional world to the real one?

⚠️ ICYMI: Appealing to wearers who love to customize their shoes (all of them!) Crocs created a virtual store experience based around the brand’s Jibbitz charm categories. After using the 3D Jibbitiz Customizer, fans can purchase their creation. Could your brand combine personalization with discovery-led commerce?

This Week's Trivia Answer

B. Reading silently in a park

Since August 2019, a Baca Bareng (Reading Together) event has been organized every month for people in the city to gather for an hour to read their own books quietly. They will sit around together, not talk at all, and just read in each other’s company. Gen Z are showing a decided desire to unplug and get away from it all, whether that’s the escapism of gaming or the recent spike in ‘dumb phone’ usage. How can your brand help Gen Z get more of less? 

🚀 Over and Out!

What are you reading at the moment? Other than Culture Wire of course… 

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Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki