Winning work: How we made Jetstar’s Singlish campaign

AKA Asia's Amy Wright looks back over years of planning, pranks and unexpected pauses that eventually led to the Mumbrella Asia Award-winning campaign

AKA Asia and Jetstar have been working together for over four years to build brand awareness and love in Singapore. From surprising December Babies to celebrate the brand’s 11th birthday to Feng Shuing a plane for Chinese New Year, we’ve had our fair share of successes over the years. But nothing quite captured the hearts and the internet quite like our ‘Singlish’ campaign.

So how on earth did something that began as a simple April Fools’ prank hit such a note with audiences? To get under the campaign’s wings, we need to take a little trip down memory lane.

Three years ago…

Yes really, it started that long ago. It was back in 2014 when we first had the idea to unveil the brand’s ‘localisation’ strategy. We planned to re-skin the website in Singlish and issue a press release to media to announce our ‘new language option’. Then tragedy struck with the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance. In those circumstances, it just wasn’t the right time for this campaign and we took the decision to shelve the idea.

One year later…

We revisited the campaign and were ready to press play, when just one week before April Fools’ Day, Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew passed away. The whole nation was in mourning. We pressed pause again.

In 2015…

By this point, we had lived with the idea for years. To us, it seemed outdated. Plus in 2015, content was king. We could no longer convince consumers with a news article in The Straits Times. We needed to make the idea believable and shareable to truly give it a chance to fly.

Our April Fool’s Day prank

We filmed an all-too-believable behind-the-scenes mockumentary of the ‘Jetstar Singlistics Training Programme’, which took its cues from corporate videos. We filmed air stewards in training (and in doing so, gate-crashed an actual crew’s training session) and recorded the announcements over the plane’s sound system to make it as convincing as possible, thereby pulling off the ultimate prank.

On the eve of April Fools, we beat all the other pranks to the punch and pressed play. We posted the video across all social channels, distributed the release and film, offering the press multimedia content that was impossible to ignore. With pick-up from almost every national media outlet in Singapore, it started to spread to media across the region. Film views hit half a million and counting in the first 24 hours, driving traffic to the Jetstar website to confirm whether the rumours were true. On social media, we responded to comments in Singlish to further increase engagement and showcase Jetstar’s prowess with the Singlish language.

Responding to fans over National Day

We could have stopped there. But when consumers begged us to make the flights a reality, we listened. Overcoming logistical challenges, we launched Singlish flights for one day only on Singapore’s 51st birthday and became an integral and much-talked-about part of the nation’s celebrations.

Jetstar goes Singlish, really!

We created a new film, captured on a preview of the first Singlish flight, and secured another significant wave of national news coverage to build excitement in the lead-up to Singapore’s birthday celebrations. On National Day itself, hundreds of Jetstar passengers experienced the flights for real, sharing the experience with friends and family to reinforce our brand message: Jetstar is one of Singapore’s own.

So ultimately what worked best?

Content, content, content

The two films that we created were shared over 32,000 times and viewed over 3.7million times. Media were actively sharing the content we created – which couldn’t have been more branded if we had tried!

Know Your Audience

We struck the right tone to resonate with Singaporeans. The video scripts, press releases and social media responses went through multiple rounds of feedback to check the tone (and use of Singlish) was just right. We also kept the promotion to Singapore, rather than reaching out to a global audience. Singlish is such a uniquely Singaporean idea – if your idea didn’t translate to other markets, don’t force it.


Good ideas stand the test of time. Have patience and don’t rush to do something if a little extra time can make it even more awesome. Some things are worth the wait.

Amy Wright is a managing partner at AKA Asia 


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