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1 MARCH 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.

In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: The Eras Tour arrives in Singapore tomorrow… are you ready for it? 
  • Fax, No Printer: Can you guess the latest must-have phone? 
  • Regional Round-up: Cultural crossovers, gamer perks, Vietnamese cinema, and more… 

Innovation of the Week

💖 IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING 

Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour kicks off in Singapore tomorrow, and Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is getting Swifties in the mood with a host of activations including a retail pop-up stocked with official concert merchandise, a special (and free!) water and light show complete with a Swift soundtrack, and an architectural light-up. Our favorite feature? The Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Trail—a large-scale installation of the artist’s musical journey spanning 10 iconic eras, is filled with props, and provides plenty of photo opportunities.  

Culture Group collaborated with MBS to ideate and conceptualize the Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Trail—one-of-a-kind, large-scale experience that we’re thrilled to have played a role in bringing to Swifties, celebrating the fandom and helping them create forever memories of what they love most.

 

💡 OUR TAKE

First, let’s take a moment to explore the different approaches brands have taken when it comes to using culture to engage with consumers. 

UOB primarily focused on access, providing pre-sale tickets for card members (a tactic the bank successfully repeated with Ed Sheeran). MBS is doubling down on celebration, extending the Eras hype beyond the stadium and giving fans space to connect over their shared passion. It’s proving popular—the light show is already fully booked. As the trail is in a visible public space, it could reach consumers unaware of Swift-mania, further legitimizing the fandom. 

When it comes to a brand’s role within culture, there’s clearly no one-size-fits-all approach. But it is essential to identify your reason for entering the space—this will help create activations that resonate with fans and add real value. So let these case studies inspire your thinking, or get in touch with us to discuss more!

Some final thoughts on Marina Bay Sands’ Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Experience. In a previous edition of Culture Wire, we discussed how retail spaces are moving away from commerce-focused activities and towards passion points-based experiences. Tying that passion point experience to a pop culture moment makes it more compelling and helps build cultural proximity around a brand. If you’re looking to mix up your retail strategy, consider the cultures that you want to get close to and the unique aspects of those fandoms that can be rendered IRL. 

Fax, No Printer*

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

Which phone will Gen Z be obsessing over this year?

A. iPhone 16 Pro Max

B. A Barbie Flip Phone

C. Motorola Wrist Phone

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

Regional Round-up

💳 Gamers in the Philippines can now convert Atome rewards points into gaming credits through the Mastercard Gamer Xchange. Gaming is big news in the country—95% of internet users aged 16-64 play games—so this tie-up is smart. And it’s a reminder that, with a bit of creative thinking, any brand can help connect consumers to their passions!

🛍️ Hyundai Department Store will bring K-culture to Bangkok and beyond with the help of Siam Piwat Group (the owner of Siam Paragon, among others). Expect retail experiences that combine K-food, K-pop, K-fashion, and more, with local Thai entrepreneurs showcased in existing Hyundai outlets. How might your brand pioneer a cultural crossover that will delight fans?

👩‍🍳 Celebrating greater diversity in the sector, the Women in Hospitality 2024 event will be held in Bangkok over the next week. This isn’t just about paying lip service: 3% of the event’s revenue will be donated to the Halfway Home For Women Foundation. Time to support pioneers while also uplifting the next generation of changemakers?

🏆 Cu Li Khong Bao Gio Khoc (‘Cu Li Never Cries’), a film directed by Pham Ngoc Lan, won the ‘Best First Feature’ award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Vietnam film is having a moment, and local productions are thriving thanks to their ability to cater to younger audiences. With 2023’s Hollywood strikes slowing the pace of US releases, it seems like stories centered on local traditions will continue and we would expect big streaming platforms to venture into Vietnamese originals. 

⚠️ ICYMI: When anime streamer Funimation shuts down in April it will be merged into Crunchyroll—and it seems like digital libraries will be wiped out, too. Following fan uproar, Crunchyroll announced that it was ‘workshopping’ a solution, including compensating those who will be affected. Digital ownership will keep cropping up, and brands need to have better answers. 

This Week's Trivia Answer

B. A Barbie Flip Phone


HMD, the maker of Nokia, is partnering with Mattel to create the Barbie Flip Phone, which will be available later this year. While the press release was scant on details, it seems like the retro device will be available in pink (of course!).

Clearly, HMD is betting that Barbie-mania isn’t going anywhere and that younger consumers will continue to ditch smartphones for more ‘basic’ options in their efforts to reduce (or at least manage) screen time. A recent report found that US Gen Z spend an average of seven hours and seven minutes per day on their devices (up 6.5% in one year); that exceeds the global average by 104%. 

Consider how this continued to shift towards nostalgia and the desire to unplug could play out in campaigns. We love the Marathumb Challenge from Saucony which encourages participants to run further than they scroll. 

Editor’s note: this was a bit of a trick question! Earlier this week Motorola showed off a bendable smartphone that can be worn around the wrist, but for now it’s still a concept. 

🚀 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, Kiko, Ross, Teri, & Vicki

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