It’s been just over five years since the official opening of Marina Bay Sands, and the hotel and resort destination has firmly established itself as not only a true icon of Singapore, but as one of the world’s most iconic buildings.
But if the marketing strategy in its first five years has been about putting Marina Bay Sands on the map, the next five years is all about creating an affinity with visitors.
“We don’t want to be the Eiffel Tower of Singapore,” said Maunik Thacker, senior vice president of marketing at Marina Bay Sands. “We want to be a place where people want to come back.” To his point, the brand wants to shift from being a spot to take the perfect Singapore selfie, to be being a lifestyle destination you can visit time and time again.
Thacker moved into his current role heading up the marketing team in June 2013, after joining the company is 2006 as executive director of revenue management. The advantage, he says, of being with the organisation for a number of years in different roles, is that it has given him a strong overview of the bigger picture.
“The next five years is very important for us," Thacker said. "It's extremely critical to get it right and to move from the once seen destination—‘I’ve been there, done that’—to 'I want to keep going back again and again.' And that’s the challenge for us. That’s the goal.”
After taking stock of what the brand has achieved in it’s first four years, in creating a must-visit destination for anyone in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands rolled out a significant campaign in March this year, featuring sporting icon David Beckham.
Behind the scenes on the 'Never settle' campaign for Marina Bay Sands.
The regional campaign, with the tagline "Never settle”, followed a similar campaign of the same name for the Venetian Macau. The Las Vegas Sands group, which owns the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and The Venetian in Macau, had previously partnered with Beckham in 2013, as part of an effort to expand its presence in Asian markets.
A year in the making, the campaign was conceptualised by creative agency AR New York, with the commercial and print advertisements shot over two days in early October 2014. Beckham has a history of promoting brands in Singapore; he was also in the city in November last year to launch his own whisky brand, Haig Club.
The key intention behind the campaign was to move consumers beyond the iconic building and take them inside to the experiences that are available.
“The next five years we want to be known as a brand that constantly reinvents itself and refreshes,” Thacker said. “From an opportunities perspective, we’ve got multiple different businesses and our aspiration is to be the best-in-class in each of these areas; whether in food and beverage, retail, entertainment, or as a luxury hotel. The challenge is to bring it all together with a single message."
In the TVC for the campaign, Beckham can be seen arriving in Singapore in a sleek vehicle and entering the luxury hotel. The ad follows Beckham through his experience in the resort, taking in a number of locations including celebrity chef restaurant Cut and the city views from Sands SkyPark.
“We had the opportunity to work with someone like David Beckham, who's got a phenomenal following, and a person who's sort of reinvented himself over time," Thacker said. "Choosing him as a partner was ideal for us because we're constantly reinventing ourselves as an organisation as well.”
The KPIs for the campaign were all about awareness, and the brand was able to leverage Beckham's huge star appeal as well as his social-media following. A photo of Beckham in Marina Bay Sands' famous rooftop pool got over 1 million likes "instantly", Thacker said.
“It was not necessarily about tactical transactions or transaction exchange, it was really about the brand side of things,” Thacker added. "We asked ourselves, is it the right kind of perception we've created, did we get high engagement levels, and then as a result of that are more and more people engaging with us?”
The results so far? Since its launch in March to the end of June 2015, Marina Bay Sands said the campaign had received:
- 220 million impressions;
- 3.3 million clickthroughs across display, video and social;
- 520,000 social engagements;
- 45,000 organic views on YouTube for the two-minute version of the campaign video.
Meanwhile, year-on-year, total website visits (from China, India and Malaysia) saw an increase of 79 per cent, along with a 55 per cent jump in the room nights booked.
'Never settle' is set to continue throughout the rest of the year, which is a milestone year for Singapore as it celebrates its 50th birthday. Marina Bay Sands will have a central role in the celebrations, forming the backdrop for the annual fireworks and festivitiies.
“Since we opened five years ago, Marina Bay Sands has changed the whole tourism scene in Asia," Thacker said. "People look at Singapore differently. It’s become a lot more vibrant and we've added a lot more colour to the space, and there’s a lot more tourism in Singapore because of that. With that, there is a significant responsibility to make sure we deliver."