Singapore spreads the love of shopping with Xmas in the tropics theme

Christmas in the Tropics is the marketing theme this year for Singapore. Clearly aimed at people not in South East Asia or those mad ones thinking about a going back to Europe/US…..

The second theme appearing on all posters in Singapore’s amazing shopping mecca, Orchard Road, for example is “Christmas is Love”. Ironic as Hong Kong’s strapline this year is “Love is all around” which just reminds me of the Hugh Grant film “Love Actually” and the terrible Wet, Wet, Wet song “Love is all around” which gets “hilariously” changed in the film to “Christmas is all around” by the charismatic Bill Nighy. I hope they’re not using that as their theme tune! I am sure that the connection is lost on Hong Kong residents!

Not for no reason is Orchard Road ranked amongst the top 10 for the World’s Best Holiday Lights according to Frommers, and in the top 10 for best Christmas Markets of the World by Lonely Planet.

Christmas is big business for Singapore as is tourism at this time of the year for South East Asia in general. Europeans are desperate to get away from 24/7 rain, cold and darkness and Singapore provides a tropical paradise of shopping, dining, attractions, sun, light and heat to satisfy every craving.

7 million people visited Orchard Road/Marina Bay during the 2011 xmas season and that was up on 6 million the previous year. This year should be even higher, especially given the darkness, floods, plagues and locusts sweeping across Europe…(ok there are no plagues…).

Orchard Road is focusing on tradition and has kept commercial sponsors to a minimum (having learnt their lesson last year when Panasonic ruined the decorations with horrible blue ones). Visa and Hitachi are sponsors this year although more subtle than last year.

Visa have looked to activate the sponsorship more than Hitachi with a call to action free $10 voucher when you spend $200 on your Visa credit card at any of the 11 malls on Orchard Road.

Although they seem to have been let down by technology as instead of it being automatic you have to register with seven different fields via text which history will tell any marketer will massively reduce redemption.

The back to basics Christmas themes this year include  many yuletide elements,  hearts, santas, reindeers, snow, red and white colours, doves and nutcracker soldiers (I’m not sure soldiers and doves go together but you get the drift!).

What is truly unique about Orchard Road is the width of the street. It’s enormous! So large is the width that it can showcase carol singers, theatrical events and endless Christmas tress without you ever feeling crowded, congested and unable to walk by which is magical for tourists and residents alike.

The same cannot be said of streets in London, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney for example.

Even the F1 shop has got into the act. During the Grand Prix build up and for weeks after it was the F1 Shop…now the same shop is The Christmas Village…but it’s still selling the same F1 gear! It’s just seasonally rebranded! No doubt it will become the Chinese New Year Gift shop in January and the Easter Store in March!

Metro department store have got into the spirit of “Christmas is Love” with a “Let Love Unfold” campaign. Wouldn’t “unwrap” have been a better analogy?

All the Malls are competing for custom and for the gaudiest/brightest xmas decorations to draw in residents and tourists alike. Some have gone very bling and dazzlingly OTT like ION some are just very half hearted like new Plaza Singapura for example.

The ten malls along the 2.2km strip are holding a best building contest such is the pride in being the gaudiest and most eye catching!

Real Christmas trees are a big seller if the massive outdoor plant and florists are anything to go by. They can’t import them fast enough from the US for Singaporean residents of all nationalities to snap them up to showcase their home as being appropriately seasonal.

The same with xmas wreaths on doors, although they tend to be on Singaporean residents from Western countries rather those hosting Eastern world residents but everyone is getting involved one way or the other such is the spirit of any festival in Singapore!

Many people in Singapore don’t celebrate xmas at all, ranging from Hindus to Muslims who have their own seasonal festivals such as Deepavali’s festival of Lights which have just finished. Many others are Budhist or part of other religions and are blase about it and enjoy the day off (only one here…well we get so many others we can’t really complain!) and have a fun day with the family/friends instead.

Oh and I’m sure that the Christian religion is playing some part in Christmas in Singapore but that’s bypassed most people in here as it has the majority of people around the world these days. It’s more important to share time with family and friends, enjoy a traditional meal with plenty to drink (alcoholic or non as per your taste), exchange gifts, spend gift presents (or exchange them!) and have fun.

Religion may have given the world xmas but the people of the world have taken it away and made it a non-religious celebration for everyone to enjoy especially in places where there are truly multi faith communities which Singapore is a great example of.

Ho ho ho!

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