MEDIA & MARKETING | Contributed Content, Singapore
Karen Flynn

When Singapore marketing becomes annoying noise pollution


Recently, I took a stroll along Orchard Road on a Saturday afternoon with a visitor from Australia; we lasted about 35 minutes before ducking into a cinema for refuge.

The ambient noise along Orchard Road was deafening!  The noise level in Orchard must be above the level of a rock concert at times – easily over 105dB.

I ended up having quite a serious conversation about this with marketing and advertising colleagues and how they perceive this type of marketing activity that has littered Orchard Road and other areas of Singapore for some years now. 

The Activations and other “marketing” events which take up less than 4 square meters and blare at pedestrians every 3 meters must break every rule in the book on effective engagement. 

It was mind boggling to think that brands would actually believe consumers might stop and be swooned by this utter noise pollution; and for which I am sure they pay a premium to be present on a peak day on prime pavement.

Subsequently, I have paid close attention to the level of street noise in London and New York.  It is significantly and beautifully lower than Singapore. 

There are lots of street vendors in these cities but the noise level does not assault the senses the way it does here.  The Activations actually encourage consumers to stop and look and listen.  Isn’t that what marketing is supposed to do?

Who in their right mind would stand next to a speaker that is pumping 105dB of pop music to listen to an uninspiring promoter shout a poorly-crafted sales pitch to their ear? Is it time that marketers take a serious look at these “marketing” events in public spaces? 

Frankly, I align it closely to inhaling toxic cigarette smoke or smelly body odour as I stroll along a nice pavilion looking to enjoy retail therapy – instead of adding to the enjoyment of one’s shopping experience, it simply grates on the senses and causes annoyance. 

I suggest it might be time that licenses for such Activations are revoked on the spot when they are deemed to be a nuisance rather than effective.  Let’s get the marketing quotient back into Activations and make them a memorable part of shoppers’ experience.

I would dearly love to hear how my fellow communicators in the industry view this – how can we work together to raise the bar? 

Let’s not allow it to slip any further; we are after all a developed city in so many ways – surely we have the creative talents to promote engaging, tasteful, even enjoyable street Activation ideas!

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Karen Flynn

Karen Flynn

Karen Flynn is the Managing Director & Principal Consultant at Siren. She Specializes in developing communication programmes within integrated marketing environments; significant experience in managing multimarket initiatives.

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