Opinion: How I overcame my SG50 scepticism

Low Sieu Ping, from The Hoffman Agency Singapore, reveals how overseas travel made her rethink brands' involvement in Singapore's 50th anniversary celebrations

Writing this might mean that I’m contributing to the glut of SG50 articles, and allowing conversations of "simi sai also SG50" to happen. But, it is a thought that I had to express. Personally, I am excited to celebrate the nation’s 50 years of remarkable progress and going all #local.

But ever since the SG50 campaign started last year, a slew of activities have been initiated, whether officially or unofficially. As a professional in the media/creative sphere, it’s hard not to notice the numerous commemorative events and activities that happened or will be happening.

Client: "Let’s think of something for SG50."
Media: "SG50 again?"

SG50 is seemingly a memo that the entire nation received.

Everyone wants a slice of this pie, from advertising campaigns to organizers of film screenings, exhibitions and concerts. The emblem of ‘SG50’ can be seen screaming on various products and decals.

Much as I love my country, I have to admit that I started to grow dismissive of these events as the SG50 drum beat went on fervently and got louder. As journalist Ong Sor Fern aptly put it: "The cynic in me snorts and dismisses the whole slew of events as just advertising malarkey riding on the coattails of a national event."

As I was close to shutting my ears to any activity about SG50, a series of unexpected events held me back—the conversations and trips that I had overseas in China, Thailand and Vietnam where, for various reasons, people held Singapore in such high regard.

Growing up in the post-independent landscape, I experienced a city-state that was already an economic hub, and one that saw political stability and social security.

Did I come back with a refreshed perspective of SG50? Definitely.

This was a timely reminder that amid the clamour from the SG50 marketing activities, I count myself very fotunate to have grown up in Singapore.

The fact of the matter is, the hype over SG50 is here to stay. Maybe what would be valuable is having brands review their SG50 associations, and question whether it is relevant to their messaging, so that negative brand sentiment would be less amplified.

But at the risk of digressing into another topic that’s about branding, I’d like to think, for now, that brands just want to show support to Singapore and SG50. And of course, they too, want to wish the country, a happy birthday too.

Low Sieu Ping is an account executive at The Hoffman Agency, Singapore

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