Social Media Campaigns In Singapore: What Works

social media campaign success in singapore

Singapore is one of the most forward cities of the world. With our skyscrapers and futuristic architecture, we are constantly nicknamed the city of the future, hyper-connected, smartphone-obsessed. In fact, we possess the highest smartphone penetration in the Asia-Pacific region at 86%, coupled with an 82% internet penetration which ranks much higher than the global average. With a combined 4.4 million active social media users (77% of our total population), Singapore has serious social media game. Here we examine some social media campaigns and see what works and what does not.


Socially & Locally Relevant

Social media marketing in Singapore seemingly encompasses Youtube video ads, Instagram and Facebook ad placements, as well as joint social media and experiential marketing. The Youtube Ads leaderboard for the first half of 2017 exemplifies the structure of video ads that resonated the most with Singaporeans. As you would naturally expect, all of them had strong Asian overtones, with the ones at the top being characteristically Singaporean. Gillette’s #GilletteSalutes NSman campaign comes in first with DBS Sparks miniseries coming in second and a 30s McDonald’s Seoul Spicy Burger ad taking the third spot. McDonald’s, Dove, Coca-Cola have all been chart toppers in terms of past advertising efforts. Although, their big-budget advertisements have faltered recently when its communication kind of missed the mark.


Inauthenticity Sells You Short

In the ad that has now been officially pulled from Youtube, Kendall Jenner, a member of the Kardashian clan is seen stepping away from a modelling shoot to join a crop of fervent protesters who are rallying for peace, unity and acceptance. The ad amalgamates in Jenner handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer. This feels very gratuitous to any audience member who would naturally feel, how would Pepsi solve all these issues? The ad was felt by many to be in bad taste, that Pepsi was “late to the party” and exploiting the escalating issues of unity and fairness in our time.

It seems authenticity is the most essential element that should no doubt underlie your marketing efforts. The new generation of millennial consumers prize values that embrace boldness, though all in the name of good faith and harmony. It is probably wise to stay away from opportunistic ideas that take advantage of the moment. Your new-age consumers are, just as well, averse to charlatanism.

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Popular Campaigns that Remained Authentic to Singapore

Sticking to your original brand values is a critical point to keep in check. And it seems the ads that abide achieve success even in our Asia-Pacific region.  A memorable one that is etched perhaps perpetually in the hearts and minds of Singaporeans is the localised Nasi Lemak campaign executed by McDonalds’, alongside the partnership of PR agency Golin Singapore, creative agency DDB Singapore and media agency OMD. The new localized product line was in keeping with the themes of NS50 and the Singapore Food Festival 2017. The advertisement spot launching this product line features a national serviceman giving a treat of the new localized products to his family with his first pay check following enlistment.

The original and truly heartwarming ideals of the product line and the advertisements won McDonald’s the fancy of locals and internationals alike. The winning appeal lies in the original spin on the age-old Nasi Lemak classic and the relevancy of Singaporean qualities exhibited in the video. They are novel ideas but remain true and authentic to the McDonald’s brand. It’s overall triumph can be seen in the repeated roaring demands of Singaporeans to bring back our burger.

Staying original and bold, but remaining true and relevant is a difficult balance to strike, and if you succeed with the collaboration of the right partners, it would mean a rippling effect of consumer loyalty.


Validity of Social Media

Some negatively received campaigns that got fiery backlash recently still doubtless taint the image of the brands in question. Around the time when Gushcloud bloggers began to gain traction, a slew of disguised advertisements began to crop up on these regularly frequented online spaces. Because of the personal nature of blog content, audiences are inclined to take bloggers at their word. However, not all bloggers are genuine and authentic when it comes to social media marketing. They promote items they don’t use, they even hazard to cross boundaries and help a paying advertiser slander a competing brand. A leaked email brought to light by Xiaxue revealed that Singtel agreed to pay $4000 in cash and incentives to Gushcloud bloggers in 2015 if they published slanderous comments on Starhub and M1’s services, driving sign-ups to Singtel instead.


Problems with Boldness

The Singtel incident has apparently scarred consumers’ response to social media and brings the very validity of social media in recruiting actress Rebecca Lim to socially announce that she is retiring, only to promote the company’s insurance plans. Hoards of Youtube and Facebook commenters were outraged, citing the lack of integrity and commented that they felt “cheated”.

There is a definite tendency for social media marketing to veer to the extremes in Singapore. Take for instance Nat Geo’s NSman publicity stunt in efforts to promote their latest television programme. Many onlookers were affronted by the display and felt it utterly disparaging to the legacy of National Service in Singapore. A similar stunt was orchestrated by TSLA back during the beginnings of social media when they planted a bear-costumed person on a sidewalk foraging through rubbish bins.

The exploration of such campaigns that ended in catastrophe is telling ¾ sensationalist and exploitative tactics do not go over well with the Singaporean crowd who prefer staying true to their Asian values of conservatism and reverence.


Bold in the Right Attitude

Some of the more buoyant campaigns that have been trailblazing in Singapore are ones that combine social media and experiential marketing in the right attitude, crystallizing into a bold transcendental experience for the consumer. Flashbang, a fantastic flea affair, was organized in central Orchard as a month-long Christmas market this past December. The event was brought to our shores by Artbox Asia, a creative market organizer that originates in Bangkok. The multi-sensory event promised an array of covetable retail goods, impressive neon light art installations, interactive exhibitions, music and entertainment and more: a feast for hungry millennials re-capture on social media. And they sure delivered. It was primed the biggest event of the year, powerfully attracting a rich crowd every night, whilst loudly communicating the ethos behind Artbox. It combined the nostalgic inclinations of millennials (vintage arcade games and trinkets) with futuristic overhead lights that seem to resonate so well with our sentimental tech gen. It was a night (or nights) to remember, a momentous event that would pull in the same crowd and then some in time to come. It’s success? It played to and catered to the millennials’ genuine affections.








Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.

January 20, 2018

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