Circles.Life unmasked as brand behind Singapore ‘free money’ vending machines

Following much speculation, Circles.Life has admitted to being the culprit behind a major marketing stunt giving away free money.

Singapore’s self-dubbed ‘fourth telco’ almost sparked a riot in Singapore after setting up three vending machines which exchanged S$3 for S$50.

Having generated significant buzz through the hashtag #3dollarballer, the event had to be cut short when police were called to control crowds at Raffles Place. 

The stunt stirred further interest when a vending machine earmarked for Orchard yesterday evening had to be cancelled after running out of $50 notes.

Revealing itself today as the vending machine perpetrator, Circles.Life has said the stunt was to promote its launch of its new ‘unlimited’ services – one of which involves gaining unlimited mobile data for $3 a day.

In addition, the company said it intends to launch an unlimited plan for data usage on WhatsApp in 18 countries.

The event forms part of Circles.Life’s marketing manager Megan Yulga’s headline-generating communications strategy, although this particular activation was spearheaded by Carrie Sim.

Sim said: “I looked at creating a whole story to drive interest in the #3dollarballer cash vending machine. We seeded the activity via a shady WhatsApp message as well as Micro Influencers and SGAG. The objective here was to get people to come and to create credibility that this was indeed real and that real money was being given out, no strings attached. ”

Last year, the brand kicked off its marketing efforts with a ‘vandalisation’ stunt, which saw viral video duo Youtiao666 deface a ‘competitor’s’ billboard in Bugis station last spring.

The bold effort won Circles.Life and and independent agency Supermarket Creatives Campaign of the Year and the award for Creative Effectiveness at the most recent Mumbrella Asia Awards. 

Following vandalisation activation, the company launched its ‘Hungry for more data’ outdoor campaign, which faced a public backlash for allegedly trivialising poverty last August.

Speaking to Mumbrella about the telco’s “noisy” marketing strategy last year, Yulga said: “I think of all of my campaigns in terms of PR headlines.  I think: what’s the story and what’s the headline? That’s how we start everything. Why should people care in one sentence.

“Obviously we’re not going out there to offend people. But sometimes when you do, it means you’re grabbing their attention at the same time.”

Following rapid growth in Singapore, Circles.Life said it intends to launch in Indonesia by the second half of 2018. Hong Kong has also been touted as a potential future market for expansion.


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