Gordon Ramsay Singapore Hawker Food Challenge

This is such a great PR stunt for Singapore, which is current and relevant trying to address the dying delicious trade of good hawker food – in in recent days, divert away from the haze woes. Additionally, such a great opportunity for the Singapore Tourism Board to ride off the coat tail of the PR opportunities this represents. Not rocket science, and I won’t even go down the route of wondering what the hefty price tag of the campaign was.

I don’t think he will cook it as well at this Hawker Food Challenge  – let’s face it, it’s a matter of palate and having to cook aga aga style takes time and practice. He’s never lived in Singapore and his palate would probably miss the nuances of great Singaporean hawker cooking. And the wonderful wok, which requires so much skill to do a good fried kueh teow and the likes. He can’t master the wok hei (spirit of the wok) in days!

I’ve lived away from home for nearly a decade and there are things that I really miss about growing up in Singapore and feel really sad that the profit oriented government has destroyed what ‘home’ used to be for us. I also contemplate plans of going home in the near future to make a difference to this country that’s losing it’s culture and identity.

That said, I think Singapore’s done really well in marketing itself as a destination to the rest of the world – kudos to the marketing and PR team, they’re constantly churning out new ideas and have also established a strong presence in the China market – their weibo account is 385K fans strong, and clearly they’ve invested heavily in wooing the Chinese market with their ‘China KOL ambassadors‘ (including Wanrong the food ambassador, one of China’s top food critics, one of the closest friends I made in Beijing). She speaks well of the initiative and her stance is mostly neutral – that’s where personal relationships or the Chinese guanxi goes a longer way, and I don’t think Singapore quite gets China -yet-. There’s also a love story series soap #从心发现爱# (Rediscover Love) filmed in Singapore – I can’t for the life of me relate to it and it in no way represents the Singapore I knew – it’s Singapore marketed to the Chinese for the Chinese. Again, well done for targeted marketing, but I felt alienated by the content and never know how to contnue a conversation with Chinese friends asking me about this! [The videos are actually no longer available on their weibo because of a violation of copyrights.]

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There’s only so much money can do – gone were the days of fostering good friendships, it’s all about the money these days and I’m curious about the next new big thing Singapore will roll out in it’s marketing communications strategy – something super PR worthy, big and shiny, impersonal and campaigns without longevity.

That makes me sad.

Juliana Loh

Juliana is a freelance marketing communications strategist with more than a decade of experience in the field of advertising, journalism and luxury hospitality, with a focus on China and the Asia Pacific region.

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