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19 JANUARY 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: How a doomed mall became Gen Z’s favorite hangout 
  • Fax, No Printer: How many people subscribe to Snapchat’s premium version? 
  • Regional Round-up: A new superhero, overturning stereotypes, blind dates, and more!

Innovation of the Week

Gen Zs in Singapore have a new hangout spot: a disused mall that’s slated for demolition. PlayPan took over the Peace Centre in October 2023 and converted it into a vibrant community hub with the help of local social enterprises and businesses.

Over the last few months, the space has hosted everything from thrift stores to a horror house (which attracted more than 1,000 visitors) and graffiti workshops. Street artists have transformed the building’s walls and abandoned shop fronts with vibrant murals. The space will close at the end of this month, but not before hosting Singapore’s largest pajama party and a “pet meowket” 🐱


It’s not a huge surprise that the transformed Peace Centre is a hit with Gen Z: it combines positive social and environmental impact with community building, all packaged in a unique experience. The founders of PlayPan viewed the disused space as a blank canvas and gave young people free rein. That led to some surprising collaborations (resulting in Singapore’s first glow-in-the-dark escape room) and a community space where young people wanted to hang out. Yes, other malls in Singapore have tried to embed culture into their infrastructure, leaving space for art or dance for example, but as anyone who’s ever attended a team bonding session knows—forced fun doesn’t always work. 

Of course, the owners of the Peace Centre didn’t have much to lose—the space is going to be demolished. But now it’s a proof of concept, showing what can be achieved when you bring the right people together and take a chance on creativity. It’s somewhat ironic that a mall that’s about to be demolished is getting more attention than it did in the last 10 years… 

With the Peace Centre set to close its doors for good at the end of the month, brands should consider how they could keep this momentum going. Local artists could be looking for new blank spaces, and social enterprises could be in need of a new home. Could you provide it? And for brands outside of Singapore, what elements of this Play for Good festival could you emulate?

A final thought: the discussion around art and culture in public spaces isn’t going anywhere. As part of a three-year partnership between the National Arts Council and the Land Transport Authority, some MRT trains will feature artworks from Singapore Art Week 2024, which kicks off this weekend. As art and culture become more prominent, consider how your brand will get involved in the conversation. You don’t have to wait for a building to be demolished or an official art week to start unlocking the potential of culture! 

Fax, No Printer*

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

How many users does Snapchat+ have?

A. 50M

B. 7M

C. 1M

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

Regional Round-up

🏳️‍🌈 There’s a new kavogue superhero in town! Badingger-Z, who wears a rainbow cape and was developed by Filipino filmmaker Real S. Florido, will appear in a new comic book series. In an interview to celebrate the launch, Florido emphasized the importance of centering LGBTQ+ narratives and building out rounded characters that are more than a sidekick. Can your brand tell more nuanced stories and center marginalized voices without resorting to stereotypes?

👵 Speaking of stereotypes… To challenge the silver ceiling, Singapore’s Agency for Integrated Care invited five seniors to run a marathon route that spelled out ‘Boomer is OK’ on a map. The resulting campaign, which also includes time-based TikTok challenges, aims to reframe conversations about aging. Gen Zs don’t like it when their age is used against them. It turns out Boomers feel the same! What other similarities do these seemingly disparate demographics share?

📈 According to Line Thailand, chat commerce is on track to reach 1.14T baht by 2028, up from 462B baht in 2023 (a CAGR of 19.2%!). The messaging app has over 54M users in the country, and they love shopping, consuming news, using Line Voom, and downloading stickers. Social commerce is booming across SEA: time to review influencer partnerships, social selling tools, and customer services?

💗 In Vietnam, young people looking for love are putting blind dating to the test. Before the session, participants share their interests, allowing the organizers to set up matches. During the event, they’re blindfolded and led to their potential partners. The concept is proving popular with registration slots selling out quickly. With Gen Z leaving dating apps behind, could your brand foster IRL connections?

⚠️ ICYMI: A collection of vintage IKEA furniture dating back to the 1950s recently fetched a total of £32,000 at an auction in Stockholm. With Pinterest predicting that retro-style “kitschens” will make a splash in 2024, it seems like the trend toward nostalgia is now impacting interiors. But don’t be too quick to throw out that Billy bookcase… it might be worth something in the future 😉

This Week's Trivia Answer

B. 7M

Last month, Snapchat+ reached 7M users, up from 5M in September 2023. For US$3.99 per month, subscribers get access to a suite of exclusive features, including generative AI-enabled tools that allow users to create images based on text prompts, extend images, and Dreams (a selfie feature). Per Bloomberg, the company is aiming for 10M users in the medium term—the service helps offset slowing revenue growth from ad sales.

Unlike other social media platforms’ subscription services, Snapchat’s paid tier goes beyond a status marker. The AI features, for example, enhance the user’s experience with better and more creative images. It will be interesting to see how long these features remain attractive—according to’s latest State of Mobile report, apps that recently added AI features outperformed the market in 2023 with 11% YoY growth. With consumer interest in generative AI on the rise, how long will generative AI remain a differentiator for Snapchat?

🚀 Over and Out!

How much would you be willing to pay for some vintage Ikea furniture?

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Your Culture Mavens,

Angela, Kiko, Ross, Teri, & Vicki