As it prepares to usher in 2018, Singapore has a new tagline – ‘Passion Made Possible’ (PMP). That is the motto that the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Economic Development Board (EDB) unveiled recently as part of a new campaign to market the Lion City to travellers, businesses and consumers under a holistic and unified brand.
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Singapore’s tourism sector prospered in 2016 despite challenging economic conditions as both visitor arrivals and tourism receipts beat forecasts to hit historical highs. According to the STB, visitor arrivals grew 7.7% to S$16.4 million, while tourism receipts rose 13.9% to $24.8 billion backed by food and beverage, shopping and accommodation spending. Promoting Singapore as a destination for business tourism has also been part of STB’s action plan, with more than 410 business events last year, a 15% jump from the year before.
Wanting to forge ahead even further, STB sought the answer to how it could do more for ‘Brand Singapore’. The result was PMP, an initiative to keep up with global trends: more and more countries investing and branding themselves as both travel and business destinations; travellers wanting more transformational experiences; and consumers and investors demanding more value creation and innovation.
Inevitably, there have been some mixed reactions about the new slogan. One criticism is that the slogan does not have the word ‘Singapore’. This counter-intuitive approach was taken to capture the attention of target audiences and create a brand impression. Apparently, this seems to be the case for most brands. A study by global advertising media-planning agency MEC of 240,000 respondents in 34 countries found that 47% of people have a strong impression of which brand they will buy before the need to purchase is triggered. That compares to wanting something even before you realise you want it.
There is also ambiguity about what ‘Passion’ refers to. However, it could be argued that it is an open-ended term that travellers or businesses can define for themselves so Singapore means something special for everyone.
Debates about the slogan aside, how exactly will PMP boost brand Singapore?
Passion Beyond Borders
The PMP campaign will take place across 15 markets worldwide through STB’s regional offices. Key source markets include China, India and Indonesia, as well as longer-haul markets such as Australia, the UK and the US.
To ensure that each in-market campaign and event is relevant and relatable to audiences, STB will be coordinating collaborations between PMP brand personalities, Singapore talents, and influential public figures from the various countries or cities. Instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach, the campaign will be complemented with ground-level activities that are tailored to local cultural tastes to appeal to the respective audiences of each market.
The Experience Economy
PMP is a timely campaign as the biggest global tourism and consumer trend today is the demand for a travel experience that is immersive, local, authentic and active. Manufactured and packaged tourism is fast losing its appeal. An American Express survey found that 72% of respondents would rather spend money on experiences than things.
Aiming to capitalise on this trend, the PMP campaign seeks to showcase the fundamentals of the Singapore Story, and its cultural diversity, rich food heritage and the unique psyche of Singaporeans. Relying on the short-term novelty of new attractions to attract tourists, a tactic that previously worked for Singapore, does not look to be sustainable in the long run. The new campaign targets more discerning tourists who will be intrigued and do their research to find out if Singapore is really worth a visit.
People at the Centre
According to STB chief executive Lionel Yeo, the PMP is backed by a campaign that puts the focus squarely on Singaporeans to “tell a fuller Singapore story beyond just tourism”. A key part of the campaign that showcases how Singapore is ‘Passion Made Possible’ is a series of ‘Tribe Films’ that features close to 100 Singaporeans, residents and notable personalities who embody Singapore’s diverse society. These films will be broadcast on various media channels and social media platforms.
The Tribe Films aim to appeal to the aspirations and imaginations of visitors by showcasing how Singapore’s depth of offerings can ignite their passions, whatever they may be. STB has segmented potential visitors into seven major ‘Passion Tribes’ based on their lifestyles, interests and reason for travel: Foodie, Collector, Explorer, Action Seeker, Culture Shaper, Socialiser and Progressor. For instance, Foodies are invited to delight in gastronomic experiences, while Explorers are called upon to traverse the outdoors and other places of interest. The Progressor tribe is aimed at business travellers who seek to connect, collaborate and innovate.
On the business front. EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin described the launch of PMP as a well-timed move given Singapore’s strategic shift from being an investment-driven economy to one lead by innovation. The PMP campaign is meant to communicate how being in Singapore can help innovators create solutions for a better world and build successful new businesses. It signals to the international business community that Singapore is an ideal base from which to create new products and services that make a strong impact in the growing Asian region.
PMP can be a valuable platform for international and local businesses to take advantage of techno-economic trends in the 4th Industrial Revolution that promise to transform life as we know it. Think of exciting ideas and inventions like mobile supercomputing, intelligent robots, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements and genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and progressing at exponential speed.
At the end of the day, PMP should be seen as more than just a campaign. It seeks to be a whole that is more than the sum of its parts by collectively reaching out to different segments of society and the economy across borders. If the campaign is successfully executed and travellers and businesses embrace it, PMP promises to be the next iteration of Brand Singapore as it adapts to stay competitive in a dynamic global landscape.