9 out of 10 ads feature westerners.
I just spent the weekend in Singapore. It took 31 hours to get there. Thankfully I’m taking a pit stop in London on the way back to Miami.
I can honestly say that I love Singapore and could imagine myself living there. It has all the western amenities that I’m familiar with but with a heavy dose Asia. The reason I say a heavy dose – is because the western influence was really surprising to me.
Everything is in English (with Mandarin subtitles in some places) – even the road signs have the same design style as US road signs (green with a white ring – same font). The first day I got there I walked out the front door of my hotel and I didn’t stop walking for about 3 hours. I walked all the way to Orchard Road: the primary shopping district for the city-state. Along the way I made a point of walking down all kinds of side alleys with rows of asian food stalls. The authentic local food smelled great, looked great (aside from one shop advertising “Pig Organ Soup” as the name of the place), and made me feel for a moment that I was truly abroad.
Once I got back onto any main thoroughfare things started to change. I started to notice a patern in their advertising. All the ads that featured photography typically featured westerners. This really perplexed me.
I considered all kinds of alternatives. Is it because the culture here holds western culture in high regard? Was it just because they love western celebrities or was it that brands just were not investing in local celebrities for budget reasons?
I ended up asking as many locals as I could. They varied in descent from Chinese, Malay, to Indonesian. I was surprised by their response. Some claimed they just thought westerners “looked better”, other said they loved the western celebrities, but when I pressed the issue further they agreed that they would like to see more of their own celebrities, athletes, and actors in these ads.
I think there is a missed opportunity there for marketers. Why is no one there catching on to this? Am I missing something – if anyone has any insight please post a comment.