Of all the advertisers that created waves last year, Stephen Mangham, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Singapore, says the biggest was the Government: its adspend amounted to half the total as businesses cut back dramatically.
While advertisers that remained active continued to talk of the importance of digital - and indeed digital spend rose to six per cent according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau - Edward Pank, former managing director of Bates 141 in the market, believes there were too few campaigns that resonated with digitally minded Singaporeans.
"It's bizarre that a market that has one of the world's highest broadband and mobile penetration rates can still only claim less than 10 per cent of adspend as digital," he says.
Pank identifies a significant new force among consumers - the "silver segment" - who may or may not embrace digital communications. Regardless, falling birth rates and rising life expectancy is giving Singapore a greying population and the over-50 segment is seen by advertisers as one that offers rich pickings, particularly because so many in this group are keen consumers.
That may explain why despite economic uncertainty, Singapore was witness to the opening last year of a host of new upscale malls. Mangham says retail sales rose for the first time in 16 months in January 2010.
Confidence was boosted by the opening of two major resorts, the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa,which Raju Mohammed, CEO for Grey Group in Singapore, says drew a significant number of foreign and domestic visitors.
Mohammed says that rather than taking long-haul holidays, Singaporeans used their money to treat themselves closer to home, which perhaps explains why some of the world's most expensive boutiques opened along Orchard Road.
"This year consumers engaged in smaller luxuries," he says, pointing out that while consumers prioritised value for staples, they were also prepared to treat themselves to luxuries that they viewed as good value. "There has been a shift in mindset since the financial crisis," he says.
David Tang, president and CEO of DDB Group Singapore, says that another change in consumer behaviour brought about by the downturn is a greater interest and pride in Asian brands.
"The west is looking east for growth and regional and Singaporean brands are looking to uncover Asian strategies and ideas that really connect," he says.
Singapore Top 20 brands
2 NTUC FairPrice
14 Singapore Airlines
1 Channel 8
2 Channel U
3 Channel 5
4 Channel News Asia
1 The Straits Times
3 Lianhe Zaobao
4 The New Paper
5 Shin Min
This article was originally published as part of the 2010 Top 1000 Brands report.