Switched On: A Case study of i Light Marina Bay 2018
Barnabas Chia
General Manager, Pico Singapore

Singapore’s i Light Marina Bay festival – a sustainable light festival commissioned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority – featured 22 light art installations from 14 countries and drew in two million visitors who snapped and shared away during the course of its near month-long run.

Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade was transformed into four festival hubs boosted by complementary features to cater to various age groups including a pop-up made of recycled plastic tanks as a popular lifestyle lounge; a carnival with rides, games and other performances; an inflatable play garden for families and children; and a GastroBeats zone with food, music, art workshops and social games. 

One of the festival’s USPs was its ‘sustainable’ factor, both as a central thematic role for the event as well as to reinforce the notion of Marina Bay being a sustainable precinct in which to live, work and play. But how can a festival that is centred around the consumption of energy also be sustainable?

The ideas

“One way we reduce the festival’s overall impact on energy consumption is by running the annual ‘Switch Off, Turn Up’ campaign,” says Barnabas Chia, general manager, Pico Singapore, the agency responsible for the project.

“It encourages stakeholders in and around Marina Bay to switch off non-essential lighting and to turn up air-conditioning temperatures during the festival. The savings from ‘Switch Off, Turn Up’ were impressive, and they were used to power the light art during the festival.”

The team also collected over 15,000 glass and plastic bottles from various locations across Singapore and upcycled them to create the ‘Chandelier of Spirits’ and ‘Luzinterruptus’ installations. 

On top of that, cycling was encouraged as a mode of transport through Mobike – a bike-sharing initiative that added two additional deployment stations during the festival and gave attendees a promotional code for a 180-day free pass.

In the case of i Light, ‘sustainability’ extends to engaging the community through a common cause. “It isn’t solely about environmental sustainability; the community aspect of the festival is very important, and it contributes to social sustainability – the building and strengthening of common interests and bonds between people and neighbourhoods,” says Chia.

Playing on sustainability also helps in amping Marina Bay’s brand as a ‘green’ precinct as buildings in the area are ‘Green Mark’ certified by the Building and Construction Authority. “Marina Bay is socially sustainable in that it has been very carefully planned to balance the skyscrapers of the central business district with community-centred civic spaces and leisure facilities,” says Chia.

The insights

Pre-event marketing for the festival began three months before the event. Channels included in-hotel TVCs, inflight magazines, lamp post banners, digital and social media, radio ads and outdoor broadcasts, as well as other influencer engagement activities.

The team also worked with brands to manage corporate sponsorships and creative activations on-site. For example, Chinese smartphone maker OPPO set up an eye-catching neon-bedecked booth at one of the festival hubs. The booth attracted attention, showcasing the night photography and combining it with a photo competition, further prompting social media shares.

Adds Chia: “Evian contributed a pop-up store as well as photo ops and a backdrop, and Prudential contributed both the giant ‘PRUbounce’ trampoline for visitors to capture their signature moves as well as the ‘PruPlayce’ photo op and temporary tattoo space.

“Others included GrabPay who delivered a branding and resting space at GastroBeats, and GoPro who contributed workshops and outings to the festival.”

The event drew in two million visitors, 5.5 million impressions and SG$20.9 million (US$15.3 million) in PR value. If one of its objectives was to “bring buzz and vibrancy to the Marina Bay precinct”, these numbers certainly reflect that.

Next year, the festival will be rebranded to i Light Singapore and will coincide with Singapore’s Bicentennial commemoration. “For the first time, the festival will expand to the Singapore River, and over 30 artworks and a large-scale water-based multimedia show will be expected,” says Chia.

“In the next couple of years, we will focus our efforts on more closely engaging local communities, including the artistic community, volunteer and charity groups, and the stakeholders and partners around Marina Bay.”

The article was first published in CEI Asia e-magazine (Issue 5, 2018, p. 20-21). CEI Asia has granted Pico permission to publish the article on all online and offline communications channels operated by Pico, as well as the channels of all our subsidiaries and affiliates.

Source: CEI Asia, 12 September 2018