Give those marketing geniuses hired by the Singapore Tourism Board a raise. If ever there was a good example of an agency that wholly understands viral marketing, it's these guys.
I mean, let's consider how much they spent on this video: nearly nothing.
It's clear they did not spring for any professional scriptwriters, creative directors or even anyone who had even the vaguest idea of what acting is.
After all, they weren't trying to make a good ad worthy of an Academy Award, they were trying to make an effective one that would be shared online by tons of people.
In advertising terms, there are only two sure-fire ways to do this:
1) Make an ad that is so clever/moving/ interesting/funny/outrageous that the viewing audience cannot help but share it with their friends and family, or
2) Make something so incredibly terrible that the viewing audience cannot help but share it with their friends and family.
If you happen to be someone on a budget or someone who has just consumed a huge quantity of alcohol, then the only real option for you is to make something terrible.
In some ways, it can be even more effective than making something good. You know what they say: Misery loves company. This could not be truer today in modern Singapore.
Very often, groups of friends will gather together after a hard day's work to engage in a ritual of trying to convince the other fella that you have a more miserable life. ("A pay toilet at work? That's miserable, but that is nothing compared to what my boss did the other day. You know what a bear trap is, right?")
And we can also hardly experience something truly nasty without wanting to share the discomfort with everyone we know. ("Ugh, that is rancid. Here, taste this!")
All of which leads me back to what I was trying to say at the beginning, which is that we've been had by the incredibly cheesy tourism ad about Singapore that so many people have been mocking recently.
Here is an ad released quietly online, produced on a minimal budget and ostensibly targeted at Filipinos - who, if this ad is right, love advertising featuring people suffering from some sort of mental illness.
With nearly no effort whatsoever, they have gotten thousands and thousands of people to watch it and share it. And they've gotten people like me to write about it in the newspaper for free. And they manage to speed up the spread by subsequently pretending that they don't want people to watch the ad.
I am basically in awe of the marketing genius at work here, which is why I want to offer my services in coming up with a sequel to the tourism video.
When we last left our couple, she had just sprung on almighty surprise on him by pretending to give him a watch but actually just putting a small bit of urine on a stick and packing it in a nice box.
In my ad, we catch up with the couple a few months down the road as they plan for a second trip to Singapore. In the name of simplicity, I have decided to call the couple Jim and Mary.
(As with the previous ad, this one opens with them pretending to be busy working on their computers while actually messaging each other about the holiday. He is working in a little room while she appears to have set up her office beside a condo pool.
She is wearing the necklace he gave her the last time. He is wearing his same lame old watch having not received a new watch.)
Message from Mary: "Excited by YOUR Singapore."
Message from Jim: "I thought it's OUR Singapore."
Message from Mary: "I thought so too, but the logo that plays before this scene says YOUR Singapore".
Message from Jim: "Yes, that's right, but we are supposed to internalise the slogan. They are telling us that it is YOUR Singapore, so from our perspective, it is OURS. Get it?"
Message from Mary: "I've no time to debate this with you. I need to take off my glasses to read this brochure of Singapore even though I am a woman in my early 30s and therefore statistically unlikely to suffer from long-sightedness."
(Cut to a scene of them walking hand in hand in the Singapore zoo. Incredibly, the place is deserted.)
Jim: I like coming back to Singapore, there's always something new to see here.
Mary: "Oh honey, I'm just happy we can bring our unborn child here."
Jim: "Well, to foreshadow what will happen later, I am going to say that I'm sure Singapore will surprise us again this time. And tell me something: Why is it the moment we arrive here you start every sentence with 'Honey'?"
Mary: "Oh honey, I don't know. Maybe there's something in the water. (Product placement opportunity) Honey, look!"
(Cut to scenes of pandas eating bamboo and various other beautiful zoo images. The next time we see Jim and Mary, they are seated on a bench talking to each other when suddenly, Mary leaps up and drags Jim along.)
Mary: "Honey, let's go there!"
Jim: "Okay, where?"
Mary: "Here, some 5m from where we were just sitting down."
Jim: "Wow, amazing".
Jim: "Yes, dear."
Mary: "Look at that!"
Jim: "Those are the pandas. You pointed at them and said 'look' maybe five seconds ago."
(Cut to them having dinner at a restaurant.)
Mary: "Look, honey, I have something for you. It's a box in the shape of a watch with something inside that may or may not be a watch.
Jim: "I have something for you too in this jewellery box that is most likely to be jewellery."
Mary: "Honey, even though we are giving each other gifts now in this restaurant, let's not open them until much later for no good reason."
(Cut to a scene of them opening their gifts much later against a scenic city backdrop. Jim has predictably bought her some jewellery.)
Mary: "Honey, here's my surprise for you. We're having twins."
Jim: "Why can't this news come from a doctor like normal people? Also, it would be nice to get a watch once in a while. I am spending all this money on you and you keep giving me messages."
Mary: "Oh honey, I thought it would be a nice Singapore surprise."
Jim: "I want a divorce."