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Creating Waves: Viral PR Campaigns in Singapore


illustration of two people standing next to a megaphone overlaid on a computer screen
Source from freepik

Welcome to the exciting world of public relations (PR) and marketing, where creativity and strategic thinking come together to create viral campaigns that capture the imagination of thousands right here in Singapore. Before delving into interesting campaigns that caught the attention of many Singaporeans, let’s take a moment to understand what PR is.


PR is the strategic practice of building and maintaining a positive image and reputation for individuals, organisations, or brands. It involves crafting compelling narratives, engaging with the target audience, and effectively managing communications to create impactful connections. Oftentimes, companies will utilise innovative and fresh PR ideas to create waves around their persona, product, or service.


In this blog post, we will dive into the dynamic landscape of PR in Singapore and explore some viral campaigns that took the nation by storm. Get ready to be inspired and intrigued by these brilliant and often humorous PR ideas!


OCBC PayNow x Sqkii #HuntTheMouse


hand holding a $100 note
Source from The Independent Singapore

To promote its new all-in-one payment solutions app Pay Anyone, OCBC partnered with Sqkii in 2018 to launch an award-winning PR campaign. Sqkii is a marketing company that aims to gamify its processes through providing real-world rewards to gamers and return on investment (ROI) to brands.


Together, OCBC and Sqkii launched #HuntTheMouse, where the bank sponsored a SG$50,000 grand prize in this real world game of hide-and-seek. Participants would have to search the island for hints and piece them together in order to find the hidden cash prize. To encourage usage of OCBC Pay Anyone, participants were entitled to extra hints when they made use of the app’s QR feature at participating outlets. The campaign was an instant viral sensation in Singapore, attracting an estimated 200,000+ participants actively searching for hints and the cash prize in every neighbourhood.


By gamifying their PR strategies, companies like OCBC can effectively capture attention, foster relationships, and generate excitement. Techniques like challenges, rewards, leaderboards, and interactive storytelling create a sense of fun and achievement. This boosts brand loyalty and customer engagement, helping achieve ROI. Whether it's a real-world scavenger hunt, trivia quiz, or user-generated content contest, a well-executed gamified PR campaign can raise awareness and foster lasting brand loyalty.


Uber Chope King


giant tissue pack occupying carpark lot
Source from Campaign Brief Asia

In 2017, a giant tissue pack unsuspectingly popped up at a parking lot in Singapore. Amused, Singaporeans took to the internet to share images of the tissue packets and their interest in acquiring one for themselves to “chope”, or reserve parking lots for themselves. This clever campaign was a viral success, masterminded by creative agency BBH Singapore and ride-hailing app Uber.


As part of its “Unlocking Cities” Campaign, Uber aimed to send a message it picked up as part of a commissioned study it had conducted: Drivers in Singapore were troubled by limited parking space. Hence, the viral tissue paper stunt was an attempt to send a “funny but clear” message to highlight the real frustrations Singaporeans felt surrounding the search for parking lots. Through this campaign, the company hoped to reduce private car ownership / usage and promote its ride-hailing platform.


The viral stunt's success was due to its relatability and humour, resonating with Singaporean netizens. By incorporating familiar imagery and local slang like "chope," the campaign tapped into the country's culture and connected authentically with the audience. This is crucial for multinational brands like Uber, originating from other countries. PR campaigns that show a playful understanding and appreciation for local culture entertain and create a lasting positive impression, fostering brand loyalty.


Circles.life Cash Vending Machine


large crowd surrounding a vending machine
Source from Yahoo News

On 27 February 2018, a large crowd was observed surrounding a purple vending machine in town at 313 Somerset. Giving out $50 in return for $3, hordes of Singaporeans all across the island-state rushed down to the machine to get their hands on some “free money”. Pictures of the mysterious vending machine went viral on social media, being reshared and hashtagged #3dollarballer on different platforms. The next day, police officers were forced to put a stop to the event at Raffles Place as the machine was mobbed by eager participants and curious onlookers.


It was later revealed that the machine was part of an outrageous yet ingenious PR campaign by local telecommunications company Circles.life. Often featured in the media for their viral stunts and campaigns, its cash vending machine aimed to publicise the launch of their daily unlimited data plans valued at $3. The company’s marketing team shared that their intention behind the vending machine was to create a sensation and show people “how $3 can go further” with the launch of their Unlimited Data on Demand.


Offering $50 for just $3, the Circles.life PR campaign went viral in Singapore. Tangible rewards like cash incentives can be powerful tools for PR campaigns, driving customer engagement and amplifying brand awareness. However, companies must carefully evaluate the ROI of such rewards to ensure cost efficiency and campaign effectiveness.



Coca Cola #ShareaCokeSG


coca-cola advertisement
Source from Our Parenting World

“Share a Coke” is a popular multinational campaign launched by Coca-Cola in 2011 to promote its well-loved fizzy drinks. Replacing the Coca-Cola logo with the wording “Share a Coke with…” and a popular name like “John” or “Henry”, the company aimed to create a more personal relationship with its customers and “inspire shared moments of happiness”. By using a list of each market country’s top 250 most popular names, the Australian campaign was estimated to increase consumption by young adults by 7%.


This PRcampaign arrived on Singapore’s shore in 2015, coined by the hashtag #ShareaCokeSG. With a timeline running parallel to the nation’s 50th anniversary, coke bottles featured Singaporean slang like “Ah Boy” and “Chiongster”, as well as phrases like “Relak Lah”. These colloquial terms were well received by the Singaporean public, who were invited by the company to share photos of the product on social media using its relevant hashtags.


Similar to Uber's Chope King campaign, Coca-Cola aimed to connect with local culture using colloquial terms for authenticity. Creating a personal relationship humanises the brand, fostering a genuine bond with consumers. Beyond campaigns like #ShareaCoke, personalised messaging and one-on-one interactions can make consumers feel valued, increasing satisfaction and positive word-of-mouth.


EMERGE Against All Odds


woman handing out two dollar notes and flyers
Source from Asia One

In 2020, Singapore-based professional gaming and talent management agency EMERGE Esports launched a PR campaign before their official launch, coined “EMERGE Against All Odds”. Drawing inspiration from rag-and-bone men in Singapore, the company sent out ambassadors acting as “dream collectors” around the island-state. They engaged with those passing by and offered them $2 in “exchange” for their unused dreams or life goals, which were written down. To the shock of most engaged, the dreams were then immediately disposed of into a trash bag by the dream collectors.


The campaign sparked varied reactions, delighting some with a $2 reward but surprising others by discarding their dreams. This provocative act quickly spread online, generating diverse responses. The agency's intention was to foster dialogue and highlight the significance of dreams and passion in a society focused on practical pursuits.


Conclusion


In conclusion, the world of public relations (PR) and marketing is truly an exciting one, where campaigns can impact markets and even shift mindsets in society. By exploring the power of viral PR campaigns in Singapore, we have witnessed how these initiatives can captivate audiences, spark conversations, and leave a lasting impact. Using techniques like gamification, incorporation of humour and local culture, or even providing cash incentives, PR professionals can meaningfully engage and connect with their target audience to build brand loyalty.


Eager to explore more PR methods for connecting with your audience? Sign up for our SMU Academy Effective Public Relations & Marketing for Startups course to learn more about successful PR strategies, or read more about the course here!

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