Museums are generally thought of as places fit for cultural connoisseurs that feature antiquities. The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore, has been pushing boundaries to engage the younger crowd and draw them to its exhibits. In 2017, for example, the museum launched a Spotify campaign featuring with Singaporean rapper ShiGGa Shay. Titled "ACM, The HipStory of Joseon Korea", the campaign included a rap about Korea's Joseon dynasty, its court treasures and city life.

That was not all. In 2021, it went a step further by partnering with ESSEC Business School to promote the Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto exhibition. According to ESSEC, the partnership brought about two main advantages. First was that the diversity of its Master of Science in esb电竞数据投注电脑版 Management and Digital (MMD) students being aligned with ACM's international outlook. Secondly, the museum had access to the perspectives of the younger generation.

In this latest episode of "Not your usual marketing", Kennie Ting (pictured right), director of Asian Civilisations Museum and professor Sonja Prokopec (pictured left), professor of marketing, ESSEC Business School Asia-Pacific share more about ACM's marketing approach to drawing visitors, the challenges and misconceptions it faces, as well as the future of museums. Prokopec also talks about how museums and the luxury industry are similar to each other.

Listen to the full episode here.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is Asian Civilisations Museum's marketing approach to marketing?

Ting: The ACM is in a very interesting place because we recently completed a major multi-year refresh of our mission across our entire museum and also our brand. We have become the national decorative art museum and also moved ourselves into a space for contemporary design, such as fashion for a start. This also means that we have shifted quite dramatically in terms of the marketing approach that we have.

We are a lot more visual now so I think a wonderful image speaks mountains. We believe very firmly in the strength of our collection in everything that we do at the museum. Our marketing channels involve a mix of traditional and contemporary channels of marketing. We still very much depend on news media and have very strong ties with the editors. Of course this does not only include mainstream press and journals but also, increasingly, the fashion, design, and lifestyle journals and magazines. So that bit is new.

Outdoor ads are still very key. A lot of our visibility for exhibitions come from the ads that we have in the city on SMRT's network or at Changi Airport, for example. The two avenues that we find are newer and more important is, first of all, social media. Because we are very strong on visuals, Instagram is something that is very, very natural for us. Increasingly, we see a lot more of our footfall being driven by social media. We have also moved into WeChat for the Chinese market.

We are also marketing through collaborations. For example, we work with the Textile and Fashion Federation which represents the fashion designers in Singapore. It is through these collaborations with other like-minded partners that we can reach out to segments of the public that we would otherwise not have been been able to reach out to. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are some misconceptions consumers typically have about museums?

Ting: I think the perennial challenge or misconception for us is that because we are primarily a museum of antiquities, it is all old and dusty, and boring. So one of the major challenges we have is to find contemporary ideas for the future through looking at our past. But at the same time, we also have a very staunch visitor base that we cannot alienate. So again, this boils down to us articulating very clearly what our brand is and how marketing pushes our brand.

We have these brand essences that we believe very strongly in - beauty, wonder, and relevance - so they ought to speak to whoever and whatever age group or community visitors come from. It's always about focusing on the beautiful visuals and encouraging people to gasp with wonder whenever they step into our museum or to look at the kinds of campaigns that we have, and also ensuring that the storylines we have are very relevant.

The marketing is insufficient without the product to market. Hence, we've made a huge shift in terms of the product that we have in recent years. We don't just present antiquities at our exhibitions anymore. We try to link the antiquities up with a recognisable brand. 

For example, we had an exhibition with Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei on Chinese art and couture and we also concluded our Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto exhibition with photographer Russel Wong. We also did a show on Stamford Raffles. So we depend on these so that our marketing campaigns can also be easier. 

Prokopec: I think first of all it's about having a good product to start with. Then it's also about how you can be more inviting and more relevant. What Ting just mentioned are good examples in making things more relevant for the younger audience.

I think one of the key misconceptions is that if something is not digitally immersive or new, then it's only relevant for a very small group of culture connoisseurs rather than a broader audience.

People might think of factors such as them not being culturally knowledgeable enough to be able to understand that exhibition and hence it will be boring. But one of the key things is for museums to understand that their role is to make themselves more accessible and relevant. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What do museums and the luxury industry have in common when it comes to marketing?

Prokopec: This is probably one of my favourite things to discuss. Sometimes people think that the luxury industry is totally separate from museums but one of the key things is that museums, like luxury brands, have a long history. Often, they have beautiful products and how they present those products could be part of their challenge. But museums, like luxury brands, have a strong DNA and are very authentic.

These are all things that really resonate well with the consumers. Luxury brands have been very good at innovating while staying close to their brand DNA. They are able to innovate and not appear irrelevant. Be in line with the narrative of the consumers, especially the younger ones who are the driving force in a lot of trends and innovations that we are seeing. That's where the similarities lie between museums and luxury brands.

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