Marketing & Creative Business Group Update- Q2 2016

The marketing industry in Singapore is alive and active, with content marketing being at the forefront of most marketing team's agenda. 

By Chris Reed, Chairperson of the Marketing & Creative Committee


The marketing industry in Singapore is alive and well, with some brands doing some great new things. British brands thrive with localised and often globalised approaches. I love it when international brands adapt to local markets and actually put some thought into how they create a marketing plan which both expats and locals in mind.


My favourite marketing stunt of the moment is by Irish brand Guinness, which created a special Singapore-themed bottle. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, a limited edition series, features artwork by local illustrator Ben Qwek on its bottles and cans. The designs feature various notable Singapore cultural icons, such as the Keong Saik Building, Marina Bay Sands, HDB blocks and local food kueh tutu shaped into a red-tongued dog — an importer’s stamp of quality that has been on the bottle for the last 150 years, as well as a nickname for the brew in Singapore.


This is very unusual for a brand whose heritage is very Irish. I think that they have adapted the design in a very Singaporean way, without losing their brand values and tradition. I would be interested to know whether they are doing this in other markets and how well the Singaporean-themed bottle is going down with their customer base here. Have they noticed any difference? Will it bring in new customers?


Scottish celebrity star Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, Bread Street Kitchen (BSK) at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), has come up with some cool and interesting marketing stunts as well. As a keen cyclist and triathlete, Ramsay always cycles when he comes to Singapore. When he launched BST, he noticed the number of cyclists that went past his restaurant on the way to and from Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay or East Coast Park. He said at the time that he needed to do something for them, and he did.


Last time he was here, he linked up with a CEO cycle network to create awareness for what BSK was doing. This even involved opening at 5.30am to serve breakfast. It created a great series of content articles/ photos for Marina Bay Sands’ social media. Since then, BSK has launched a cyclingfocused breakfast at 7am, with smoked salmon/asparagus and egg, some great protein and a detox smoothie after a ride. Unfortunately, this is too late for my 6am daily cycle past BSK on my way to work every morning, but it is still a great marketing initiative and a nice touch.


On the other hand, British café brand Costa Coffee is always copying British promotions, which I find odd. Why do they not create localised promotions instead? When I walk past their café, they are always talking about spring/autumn promotions, which makes no sense in season-less Singapore. When they talk about having a drink to ‘warm you up’ because it is cold in the UK, it makes no sense in a country that has been hitting 36°C lately and never dips below 24°C, with humidity suitable for a tropical island. No one needs warming up here!


British rock bands Bring Me the Horizon (BMTH) and Nothing But Thieves (NBT) will be coming to our sunny shores later in the year. Aimed squarely at the rock market, most of their marketing is content-focused through social media. Word of mouth is also key. Both are amazing bands live with BMTH being the more seasoned hard rockers and NBT being the cooler, trendier band. Both are worth seeing if you want something livelier and harder (for BMTH at least) than your average rock-and-pop artist you get in Singapore.


Content marketing is thriving in Singapore and there are some great new agencies either setting up or being invested in. My former co-chair of the Marketing and Creative Committee, Andrea Edwards, has left Novus Asia and set up on her own. She tried this many years ago before Content Marketing was interesting and cool and was ahead of her time. Now is the time for content marketing, and I think Andrea has her timing just right.


Just to make the point, Singapore Press Holdings has invested $7 million in content marketing agency New Media for a stake of around 30%. Evidently, content marketing is alive and well in Singapore.