SINGAPORE TRANSFORMED by MSLGroup for Singapore Tourism Board

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SINGAPORE TRANSFORMED

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Industry Destinations (Countries & Places)
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Singapore
Agency MSLGroup
Released September 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Travel, Tourism & Leisure
Advertiser: SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD
Product/Service: SINGAPORE
Agency: MSLGROUP
Senior Client Service Manager: Stephy Liu (Msl China)
Media placement: Social Media - Weibo: Www.weibo.com/xinjiapo - 2011-03-05
Media placement: Social Media - Campaign Minisite: Http://all.vic.sina.com.cn/yoursingapore/ - 2011-03-05
Media placement: Social Media - Douban: Http://site.douban.com/singapore/ - 2011-03-05
Media placement: Social Media - Kaixin: Http://www.kaixin001.com/singapore - 2011-03-05
Media placement: Consumer PR - Voyage, Travellink Daily, China Travel Agents Magazine, Xiamen Evening News, New Woo - 2011-03-25
Media placement: Consumer PR - China Daily, Lifestyle, Beijing Times, Chuncheng Evening News, Oriental Morning Post - 2011-09-22

Summary of the Campaign
Chinese travellers had a poor perception of Singapore. They believed Singapore didn’t offer much as a holiday destination, and saw the country as only a stopover location. The truth, however, was that Singapore had recently launched new attractions, and offered an abundance of activities and value for visitors. But the Chinese weren’t convinced and tourism revenue did not increase as hoped.
Consumer-research revealed that Singapore’s attractions and experiences would appeal most to Chinese urbanites, city professionals and young affluent couples, and they, in turn, would be more likely to stay for an extended break. This generation of Chinese desired individuality, having experienced more economic freedom than prior generations, and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) decided to tap into this with its campaign, ‘Transformed Singapore.’
What followed was a social-media movement that challenged the Chinese to transform, shared inspirational stories of change, and revealed ways in which Singapore could transform their lives in inspirational ways. This helped change views of Singapore, and by the end of 2010 Chinese tourists to Singapore reached a record-breaking 1.1m. In 2011 it broke its record again with 1.5m, a massive 36% rise since the start of the campaign.

The Situation
Chinese travellers held preconceived notions about Singapore, despite many culture-ties. The Lion City was still perceived as a stopover location and had a reputation for being small and boring. To reverse this thinking, in 2010, Singapore launched 3 premium sightseeing attractions, but this did not translate into an increase in tourism revenue as hoped. STB decided to launch a new campaign to challenge perceptions: 'YourSingapore.' However, more was needed to convince the Chinese that Singapore is an exciting destination that offers them a chance to explore a modern, international city that shares their values and vision for the future.

The Goal
STB had to tackle negative perceptions of Singapore as a small, boring and limited holiday destination that was good for quick shopping trips only. Only by doing so could the goal of increasing the volume of tourists and length of stays increase. However, insights also showed that peer-to-peer recommendations and real life experiences would be needed to win over this savvy generation, as they tended to rely on word-of-mouth, e-booking, individual trips and search engines.

The Strategy
Chinese urbanites, city professionals and young affluent couples are typically hard to influence and tend to be highly sceptical of advertising and other 'controlled' messages. STB decided on a strategy that would engage through a medium where the Chinese expressed themselves most openly and freely: social media. The campaign would show how Singapore had ‘transformed’ through its new sightseeing attractions, and reveal the many ways in which these sightseeing attractions could ‘transform’ the lives of Chinese travellers too. Through the ‘Transformed Singapore’ campaign, STB would share Singapore-related activities, stories and discussions that would feed Chinese travellers’ pursuit of leisure and entertainment. However, to be truly effective, it couldn’t be a one-way conversation. So the campaign galvanised a cross-section of society from celebrity-ambassadors, social-media influencers and current Chinese travellers and asked them to share stories of how travel to Singapore had, and could, inspire and transform their world.

Execution
It started by encouraging Chinese people to follow and engage with the official Singapore Ambassador Stephanie Sun through social media, who personified the notion of ‘transforming’ by returning to popularity with a new style. Using several Chinese social-media platforms, STB encouraged celebrities and vistors to Singapore to share stories about the attractions and how the experience transformed them. At the same time, STB used SinaWeibo (Chinese twitter) to start discussions on change, and shared interactive activities on the Weibo app. Consumers with sophisticated travel needs were invited to design travel plans on www.yoursingapore.com, and a Kaixin (Chinese facebook) competition asked people to create ‘Your’ picture with Stephanie, incorporating Singapore’s attractions. With so many stories, images and videos, STB collected 2011 reasons why travellers loved Singapore, how it transformed them and created a book of inspiration. This was shared with media, influencers and visitors and was also used for an iPhone App.

Documented Results
The ‘transform’ movement struck a chord with Chinese urbanites, city professionals and young affluent couples. Perceptions of Singapore as a boring island that offered very little were completely changed. By the end of 2010, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Singapore reached a record breaking 1.1m and in 2011 it broke its record again with 1.5m. This is a 36% rise in visitors from China in 2011. The transform social-media movement had created more than 437,000 online interactions and over 12mn impressions online. The microblog was ranked number 1 on the SinaWeibo billboard (Winxun) amongst tourism accounts. 'Transformed Singapore' generated €343,381 of earned media, and achieved an 80% positive awareness amongst social media fans in regards to the refreshing of the 'YourSingapore' brand.