CategoryB06. Use of Events & Stunts
EntrantAKA ASIA Singapore, SINGAPORE


Name Company Position
Samantha Lee AKA Asia Account Director
Jia En Chan AKA Asia Junior Account Manager
Rachel Foo AKA Asia Senior Account Executive

Why is this work relevant for PR?

“Why should Singapore be celebrating 200 years of colonial subjugation and exploitation?” 2019 marks 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles’ founded Singapore as a British port. The decision to commemorate this milestone came from a desire to reframe Singaporeans’ perceptions of our history and to paint a more accurate, holistic picture that went beyond Raffles. Sadly, the announcement sparked immediate backlash across Singapore. Instead of letting this impact our plans, we decided to channel Singaporeans’ outrage into a national conversation about our history with a carefully orchestrated PR campaign. Starting from the ultimate source of contention – Raffles himself.


While Singapore has a long and storied history that dates back to 1299, many Singaporeans are unfamiliar with this narrative. We wanted to use the Singapore Bicentennial as an opportunity to spark bolder conversations about our history and educate Singaporeans on how different communities, including their own, had a role to play in Singapore’s history to help shape and strengthen our national identity. To reframe people’s perceptions, Singaporeans first had to be open to having a conversation about our history. However, we knew from the sentiment on ground that many had already written off the Bicentennial as just another piece of government propaganda. The job to be done was daunting but clear. Before we can begin to educate Singaporeans about our history, we first had to open their minds to a different perspective with a bold stance to make our intentions clear.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

On the bank of the Singapore River, there stands an iconic statue of Sir Stamford Raffles. A monument that commemorates where he landed and changed the trajectory of Singapore forever. What if we used this statue to spark this conversation that Singapore so desperately needed to have? The Idea: Beyond Raffles - The Disappearance of Sir Stamford Raffles and His Reappearance with a Wider Cast of Contributors By making the Raffles statue ‘disappear’ then bringing him back with additional, specially-commissioned statues of heroes who also contributed greatly to our history - some 500 years before the British arrived - we wanted to send a powerful message about the intentions of the Singapore Bicentennial to go beyond Raffles to tell a richer story of our heritage. Leveraging a diverse set of media channels, including mainstream, citizen journalism platforms and social influencers, we crafted a narrative to achieve this objective.

Describe the strategy (30% of vote)

We conducted a pre-campaign survey which revealed 92 per cent of Singaporeans were aware of Sir Stamford Raffles but only 16 per cent knew about Naraina Pillai, an important leader in the Indian community who also arrived in Singapore in 1819. We knew we needed to reach Singaporeans of all ages and walks of life as this low awareness was especially felt in younger Singaporeans who are the least familiar with the long and storied history of Singapore. To reach the masses, we worked with the key dailies (The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao etc) and broadcast media (MediaCorp) to secure earned media. At the same time, we collaborated with content and citizen journalism platforms like Mothership, SGAG and Rice Media to reach our younger, digital-savvy audience. Finally, social influencers like Preetipls were commissioned to create unique content around the new statues.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

Just days prior to the new year, the start of the Singapore Bicentennial, we made the iconic Raffles statue disappear, in partnership with trick-eye artist Teng Kai Wei. Making a statue disappear may seem easy, but how do you create enough intrigue around the disappearance, so that by the time the statue reappeared (a week later), media and Singaporeans still cared enough to be receptive to our message and the purpose of the campaign? We targeted media with different information and strict embargo dates, to ensure a steady stream of positive coverage to keep people engaged throughout. We deliberately revealed SBO’s involvement to media under embargo, bringing them along on the journey, allowing them time to prepare their content around the two phases of the stunt. A week later we orchestrated Raffles’ ‘reappearance’, together with four statues representing a wider cast of historical contributors.

List the results (30% of vote) – must include at least two of the following tiers:

The response made its own history! With an overall reach of more than 245, 246, 842 through a total of 162 media articles, which means the average Singaporeans were exposed to the campaign several times across local, regional and global media - from front page on The Straits Times and prime-time news on CNA, to The Atlantic, Financial Times and SCMP. We generated PR value of over SGD$2 million of earned media for the Singapore Bicentennial Office without spending a cent. Our strategy to let mainstream media in early on SBO’s involvement paid off. Coverage during both phases were on-message. It also fuelled a national conversation about who could be behind the stunt, the stories behind each of the contributors, and many calling for the statues to be made permanent. Singaporeans’ interest in our history was clearly piqued – Google Search data shows searches for “Bicentennial” increased by 450% between 28th December 2018 - 5th January 2019. The Facebook page registered a 22% increase in Page Likes. This is a significant metric as ‘liking’ a Facebook page indicates that the user is open to receiving content updates from the brand. That means the Raffles PR campaign succeeded in converting awareness of the Singapore Bicentennial to people opting in to find out more about our history across the Bicentennial year. Echoing this, the average engagement rate for Facebook posts uploaded by the Singapore Bicentennial covering the stunt was 17.8%, far exceeding the 0.13% benchmark for the Non-Profit sector.