That's my Line

Local actors Xu Bin (top) and Aloysius Pang (above) got their own stickers, which can be downloaded from the Line sticker shop until Sept 17.
Local actors Xu Bin (top) and Aloysius Pang (above) got their own stickers, which can be downloaded from the Line sticker shop until Sept 17. PHOTO: NOONTALK MEDIA

Having a set of stickers on the popular mobile messaging app is a mark of true celebrity status

As if getting millions of followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is not enough, the latest status symbol for celebrities appears to be having a set of stickers with their faces on Line, a popular Japanese mobile messaging app.

Pop princess Taylor Swift had them. So did Korean stars Lee Min Ho and Psy.

In Singapore, celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon too.

The first set of Line stickers featuring local stars was released last year, featuring the cast members of Channel 8 drama 118 such as Chew Chor Meng, Pan Lingling, Ya Hui, Dennis Chew and Chen Hanwei. The stickers are no longer available.

About a week ago, local actors Aloysius Pang and Xu Bin also got their own set of eight stickers each, which have them "uttering" phrases such as "hello", "so sweet" and "bo jio" (Hokkien for "Why didn't you invite me?").


Local actors Xu Bin (top) and Aloysius Pang (above) got their own stickers, which can be downloaded from the Line sticker shop until Sept 17. PHOTO: NOONTALK MEDIA

The free sticker sets can be downloaded from the Line sticker shop until Sept 17 and will be valid for 90 days for use in chat messages. Line also offers paid stickers.

According to statistics website Statista.com, as of this month, Line has 211 million monthly active users globally.

In comparison, WhatsApp has 800 million monthly active users, and Facebook Messenger has 700 million as of this month.

Experts are not surprised at the emergence of celebrity-inspired stickers, given the popularity of emoticons and that celebrities are increasingly projecting their presence across social media platforms.

Dr Michael Netzley, 49, a media researcher and academic director of executive development at Singapore Management University, says: "Twenty years ago, public status was about wealth and accomplishment. But today, simply being public and visible has become relatively more important.

The stars look very cool on the stickers. Say if my friends and I have arranged to meet up later, instead of saying 'okay', I can use the 'swee' sticker, which is more local.''

MS HUANG SHIYUN, a shipping executive in her 20s

"Having a Line sticker is very much in alignment with that trend."

Assistant Professor Liew Kai Khiun, 42, who teaches communications at Nanyang Technological University, adds: "Alongside emoticons, such stickers have become increasingly popular in messaging and text conversations.

"The stickers can convey otherwise complex thoughts and expressions instantaneously and informally. They also show the idols in cartoonish graphics with an array of expressions, which will appeal to fans."

According to Ms Belinda Ang, 34, director of think BIG Communications, a marketing firm whose core business is social media, Line users enjoy communicating with stickers and are likely to be between the ages of 18 and 24.

But sticker-sharing behaviour is not as evident among older users, she adds.

As to why Pang and Xu were chosen, Mr Simeon Cho, general manager of business development at Line Plus Corporation, explains: "With them being very active on social media, together with a great alignment between their fan base and Line's user base in Singapore, there is a very good fit."

Both actors were informed last month and went for a photo shoot. They declined to say how much they were paid for the shoot. The stickers then took two to three weeks to design.

Says Pang, 25: "It was probably my first time pulling weird expressions for a shoot.

"We were given some text and had to express emotions based on the text we had. My personal favourite is the 'bo jio' sticker because it's very Singaporean."

Xu, 26, enjoyed the experience too.

"My favourite is the 'please' sticker because I like my expression there. I didn't I think could pull off such an innocent look," he says.

"I often use stickers in my conversations with friends, so being able to send my own stickers feels so surreal."

Latest download figures for the stickers are not available. Both actors have a total of more than 40,000 followers on their official Line accounts.

Shipping executive Huang Shiyun, who is in her 20s, downloaded both sets of stickers and has been using them to chat with her friends.

The fan of both actors says: "The stars look very cool on the stickers. Say if my friends and I have arranged to meet up - instead of saying 'okay', I can use the 'swee' sticker, which is more local.

"Or if I realise I have been missed out on a conversation, I can use the 'bo jio' sticker."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'That's my Line'. Print Edition | Subscribe