Finding the real Singapore: how research helped everyday Singaporeans quit smoking

Sonal Narain
Ogilvy Singapore

Singapore is derided for many things – a stentorian government, draconian laws, restricted freedom of speech and expression – but what wins the contest for 'most popular topic for derision' is a purported 'lack of soul'. While, in post-Lee Kuan Yew Singapore, many of these stereotypes are being challenged, there is one aspect in which the 'lack of soul' remains unchanged: advertising.

Advertising in Singapore is highly codified and formulaic; typically it features a 'pan-Asian face' and a lifestyle shot in a resort-style condo. It has evolved from a common shared aspiration of the Singapore dream, or the 5Cs (car, condo, credit card, cash and country club). It's not far from the American Dream advertising of the 1950s US that promised a post-war society of technology ushering in general prosperity and happiness.