‘We wanted to stand for something that matters’ – Sentosa’s CMO Lynette Ang

In an interview with Mumbrella’s Ravi Balakrishnan, Sentosa Development Corporation chief marketing officer Lynette Ang digs deeper into the strategy behind the ‘Make Time’ campaign and her vision for the destination in Singapore

What was the last campaign for Sentosa like? How have the objectives changed between then and now?

“The ‘State of Fun’ campaign was launched in 2014. It positioned Sentosa as a destination for fun. But as we talked about how to go forward, we realised that fun means different things to different people.


“We felt there was no point talking about product branding. Some of the other attractions talked about flowers or animals. But given our plethora of experiences at Sentosa, the question was how do we bring it all together?

“Looking at many of the world’s most successful brands, we realised that the ones that resonate and have longevity form an emotional connection with the audience. Just product branding was not going to give us that result.

“And then, we came across studies that revealed that Singapore is a stressed-out society. We saw an opportunity and an insight – that Sentosa could be an antidote. The place where people make time for things that matter.

“‘State of Fun’ is still very much there (as a tagline). What we are trying to do is give that fun some meaning and context.”  

Tourism ads showcasing a destination with diverse attractions tend to gravitate towards the catalogue approach. Was the decision to avoid that a conscious one?

“It was a very conscious decision. That would have been very much in the product branding space – just telling the audience what the product is. Instead, we wanted to connect and stand for something that matters to people.

From casual conversations, we get the impression that locals tend to take Sentosa for granted to a certain extent. How attractive is Sentosa as a destination to the residents of Singapore?

“Sentosa welcomes about 19 million visitors a year: 70% are tourists and 30% are locals. We do not track distinct local visitors – for instance, if they come in twice, that is counted as two visits.

“To your point about it being taken for granted – we saw that trend. But over the last two or three years, we have been putting in a lot of effort to reconnect with Singapore residents.

“For instance, we hosted a lot of free events that were interesting experiences for families with young children and working adults. We brought them back with these events, and once they were here, they realised that Sentosa is quite changed.

“That is our hope: that when people come in, they realise this is not the old Sentosa they once knew.

“That there are a lot of new things – many F&B offerings for families, for instance. The objective is to get people to experience Sentosa again and then to revisit once they realise there is so much more that they could do.

“Over the last eight or nine months, we have started to see the reconnection with the local residents and I am quite pleased with it.”

What was your first reaction to the ‘Make Time’ campaign from BBH Singapore?

“We loved it. And we loved it even more as we got to see different versions of it through the course of production. When I shared it internally with the management team members and different Sentosa stakeholders, a common reaction was ‘that is my life; that is my family’. 

“We knew we’d hit the nail on the head because people immediately resonated.”  

You have mentioned this idea could work with audiences in other countries like China and India. Is this a thought you plan to bring to the global messaging around Sentosa?

“When we first started, it was meant to connect with the locals. But we saw the potential and are looking at the possibility of how we can use this in the various markets that matter.

“The execution could be different – people in some countries may not resonate with the tables, for instance – but the idea and key message could be the same. The insight is universal and will travel.” 

What’s your overarching vision for Sentosa? Would you like it to be a more premium destination?

“We are not looking at ourselves as a premium offering. It can be free or paid. The beaches, nature trails and many of our events are free. But people who want to pay can go to Universal Studios, the zipline or many other options.

“For the MICE audience who want exclusivity and premium, we have avenues like the golf club which is one of the best ranked in the world. We have five star hotels and One Degree 15, a yacht marina.

“There is a part of us that can curate more luxury and premium experiences, but we want to be accessible to everyone who makes time to come here.”


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