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Trump-Kim meet: Brands go for real-time marketing | Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO- South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network

13 Jun 2018

As the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un got social media channels abuzz, brands decided to engage in real-time marketing. Many took to social media channels with their digital promotions. Even the Singapore Tourism Board got into the act to illustrate the nation's many hi-tech qualities and attractions as a tourist destination.

What helped the branding effort was a viral picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un taking a selfie at Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay attraction. Though social media channels could not have enough, retweeting this and other pictures endlessly, marketing experts insist the value to Singapore's tourism profile is likely to far exceed the reported $20 million that the Singapore government reportedly invested in hosting the event. Speaking about brands engaging with the summit, Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO-South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, said: “This is a major event that is happening and not every brand can take advantage of it though it is an opportunity for agile brands to make it on the world stage”.

However, brands also need to be careful, said advertising chiefs who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for the moment has to tie in with the brand, and has to resonate well with consumers.

At the summit, while the Singapore government doled out goodie bags emblazoned with the country's 'Passion Made Possible' branding, the first brand off the block to capitalise on the event was chicken major KFC, with its burger for World Peace initiative splashed on Twitter.

Beverage major Coca-Cola Singapore created limited edition can designs, incorporating both US and North Korean elements to commemorate the historic summit. In their new advertisement, the company is showing seeking insights from consumers over the new design format that it has created and what the peace summit means in a conflict-ridden world.

The brand's social team told consumers over social media that the cans were intended to honour the historic moment and were not meant for sale. The company also created a Facebook video on the ocasion, where a woman chants: “You don't have to be a certain race, or from a certain country, to even recognise this drink."

Also trying to make capital of the event was the Singapore Tourism Board. Incidentally, G B Srithar, Regional Director for Singapore Tourism Board and Lynette Ang, Chief Marketing Officer, Sentosa Development Corporation, were recently in Mumbai on a road show, to commemorate the fact that India has moved up to the third position from the fourth in terms of visitor arrivals to Singapore, and continues to be the third largest tourism receipts generating market for Singapore.

Speaking about the branding opportunity the summit provided, an unfazed GB Srithar, told BusinessLine that, “As with all high-profile visits, it places Singapore on the map for international audiences and showcases Singapore as an ideal destination, especially for business and meetings. Having the summit will also further burnish our credentials as a leading business events city, as recognised already by international meetings associations like the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and the Union of International Associations."

Singapore has been ranked Top Asia-Pacific Meeting City for 16 consecutive years at the 2017 ICCA Rankings.

The hospitality sector also got a huge facelift. Apart from corporates eager to capitalise on the event, hotels and locations such as the Sentosa island, Shangri-La Hotel where Donald Trump stayed, Capella Resort where the dignitaries met, and St. Regis where Chairman Kim Jong-un stayed, also caught the attention of the world.