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05 APRIL 2024

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.

First, a quick update on Tomorrowland in Thailand. A spokesperson for the mega-festival has since clarified that nothing has been confirmed. That aside, music festivals are still having a moment in Southeast Asia and we’ll be watching to see how music festivals develops 👀

  • Innovation of the Week: Singapore’s NLB ventures into the world of gaming and fashion to make reading cool again 
  • Fax, No Printer: Which platform is nearing superapp status with its latest beta feature?
  • Regional Round-up: Uplifting local talent, the rise (and rise) of mobile games, and more…

Innovation of the Week


Singapore’s National Library Board (NLB) has joined forces with not one, but two (!) brands as part of their ongoing quest to encourage traditional reading amongst the younger generation. Their first collaboration involves a partnership with Uniqlo’s 51@AMK outlet, encouraging Singaporeans to dedicate time for reading. A week later, they announced a partnership with OpenAI and LePub of Publicis Groupe, to transform classic literature into text-based adventure games. This isn’t the first time NLB has leveraged on passion points to strengthen their presence; back in 2021, they also launched a pop-up manga library at City Square Mall, granting anime enthusiasts access to enjoy over 5,000 related titles.


NLB’s foray into gaming combines two of our favorite things—passion points with a dash of courage. We all know that reading in Singapore has been at a steady decline yet, conversely, the number of Singaporeans playing video or mobile games as of 2023 stands at a whopping 75%! 

Instead of seeing gaming as a competitor, NLB recognized that the younger generation’s current reality inherently creates a need for them to be immersed in everything that they do and traditional reading was just not it. Taking a bold step in forming an alliance with the “enemy”, they were able to reimagine what reading could look like for the upcoming generation. 

Meanwhile, in their fashion debut, NLB and Uniqlo also took the time to pay homage to local talents (the designs for eight of their exclusive t-shirts feature artwork and slogans inspired by four Sing Lit titles). With an increasing number of Asian consumers wanting to lean into their distinct, local identities, both brands join the lineup of many brand collabs that aim to create shared meaning within smaller, niche communities.   

At heart of all their activations, NLB consistently expands their position from being “just a library” into the bridge that grants their target audience access to more of what they love, even if it’s not directly tied to traditional reading. It’s a classic move of taking what your audiences already love and showing them more ways to experience it—and we love to see it!

In case you’re wondering why you as a brand should take note – the rise of BNPL and growing affinity for local brands are just some of the many indicators to fundamental consumer shifts happening in the region; namely their increasing comfort in using alternative services that are more aligned with their needs and their willingness to spend on brands that supports their evolving identity.  

At Culture Group, we believe that by understanding passion points, brands can stay ahead of these shifts. By becoming entrenched in larger experiences that create unforgettable memories, brands move from being a means to an end into lifestyle enablers. 

As different aspects of life, work, fashion, entertainment, health etc. become increasingly intertwined, creating unique realities for each consumer, how can your brand establish a stronger presence outside of your core products and services? We’d love to help!

Fax, No Printer*

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

Which platform is nearing superapp status with its latest beta feature?

A. WhatsApp

B. YouTube

C. Spotify

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

Regional Round-up

👩🏼‍🎤 Women are owning the audio medium in the Philippines: Filipina artists have racked up more than 15B streams on Spotify last year, more than 3.5 times since 2018. Beyond music, Filipina creators are harnessing the power of podcasts to connect with the community. Understanding the preferred medium and tapping into local voices will allow your brand message to be conveyed authentically.

🍺 Cheers to uplifting more local talent! Homegrown Thai artists will take the stage at Bedroom Fest in Bangkok, presented by Heineken. Last week, we highlighted how the brand is extending its message into a passion point through Spotify playlists. Heineken’s steady move into the music space could make the brand synonymous with music in the region, with fans associating the beer with what they love.

🌳 Besides supporting Coldplay for their Music of the Sphere Tour in Indonesia as a partner, AIA also showed up for the band’s sustainability efforts, particularly in reforestation. The health insurer will plant a tree in Indonesia for every insurance policy via Coldplay’s official partner One Tree Planted, signaling their commitment to help the country recover from its deforestation crisis. Sharing the commitment to sustainability in relatable ways will win brand love.

📱 According to Adjust, mobile games continue to grow exponentially in the region. Singapore (38%), Indonesia (35%), and the Philippines (33%) came up top in organic gaming app installs, which is not surprising as games like Mobile Legends are always among the most popular esports in the region. As a mobile-first market with a huge esports fanbase, how might you tap into this passion point to level up your cultural strategy in the region? We’re here to help. 😉

⚠️ ICYMI: This mobile game got players in an uproar for their April Fools’ Day edition. Connections, by The New York Times, tasks players to find “connections” between 16 words by categorizing them into four groups of four. The most played game after Wordle, it has earned a reputation for being difficult but nothing prepared players when words were switched out for emojis on April 1st. Of course players expressed their outrage, adding to the many existing memes about the game. This is a reminder that pop culture is being reinvented by the minute. What’s your take? 

This Week's Trivia Answer

C. Spotify

With podcasting on the rise globally, Spotify is moving towards superapp status by introducing online learning features. The platform recently launched video e-learning in the UK, collaborating with BBC and Skillshare to offer content ranging from music production to Excel tutorials.

This move follows insights from Spotify’s Culture Next report in 2023, which showed a surge in educational podcast listenership, especially among Gen Z in the UK and Southeast Asia. In Singapore last year, Gen Z podcast listenership in the Education category surged by 45% due to the engaging and authentic nature of this particular content format. The report also mentioned that Gen Z users prefer learning through podcasts because they offer diverse perspectives based on personal experiences and real-life applications rather than prescriptive academic views.

Clearly, Spotify is on the move to become a superapp in its quest to diversify content. In March, they announced that premium users in 11 markets can now watch music videos for select artists on the platform, and that authors can now use Countdown Pages for audiobook teasers. Meanwhile, Google recently shut down Google Podcasts to focus on YouTube Music. As platforms strive to become superapps, how will you tailor your content strategy to reach more consumers?

🚀 Over and Out!

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


Your Culture Mavens,

Angela, Catherine, Kiko, Teri, Twila, & Vicki