Crazy Rich Asians producers: SIA declined movie partnership, had concerns over brand representation

Some think that it's a missed marketing opportunity.

Tanya Ong | September 07, 2018, 05:04 PM

Crazy Rich Asians is putting Singapore on the world map.

Fictitious airline used

As a major feature film set in Singapore, the show features iconic landmarks, such as Marina Bay Sands' Infinity Pool and Newton Food Centre.

Given the presence of these icons, it may come as a surprise that Singapore's national carrier airline, Singapore Airlines, was not featured anywhere in the movie.

Instead, a completely fictitious airline, Pacific Asean Airlines, was made up for the Singapore-bound flight scenes.


Producers said SIA declined to be featured

According to an interview with The Wrap, producers Brad Simpson and Nina Jacobson revealed that SIA turned down a partnership with them.

“It was going to be an ad for Singapore Airlines!” Simpson said.

Simpson was further quoted saying that SIA was unsure if the movie would "represent the airline and their customer in a good light", while Jacobson admitted that they were shocked by the decision. 

As it is, director Jon M. Chu added that people "didn't have faith in this movie" and were "very suspicious about what [they] were trying to do".

When Mothership reached out to SIA for comment, the airline company said that they are "not able to comment on potential branding opportunities".

Missed marketing opportunity?

Plenty of airlines spend millions on advertising, and being featured in a movie like Crazy Rich Asians would have been a great opportunity for brand exposure.

In light of this, some have suggested that SIA has missed out on a huge marketing opportunity.

Speaking to Marketing Interactive, Wesley Gunter, PR director of Right Hook Communications, pointed out that SIA missed the chance for its brand to "become synonymous with a film that has made history in Hollywood by breaking the barriers of Asian cultural stereotypes".

Furthermore, Gunter addded that it would have been nice for SIA, the country's national carrier brand, to have been associated with the Singapore culture.

Many possible reasons for SIA's absence

That being said, there can be many possible reasons for SIA to decline being featured in Crazy Rich Asians.

In the same report by Marketing Interactive, more PR experts like Carolyn Camoens and Lars Voedisch weigh in with some of the possible considerations that the airline may have had:

  • The brand has a strict and conservative brand image, and perhaps wanted to remain faithful to the way it has projected itself all these years.
  • The brand could have been concerned that the film would turn out to be superficial and stereotype-laden, and that was not an image that they wanted to be associated with.
  • The brand could have also been concerned about the perception that the airline was only for the rich, when in fact, most of the seats on a plane are in the economy class.
  • Even if the movie is a major hit, it does not necessarily mean that it will be a platform that value-adds to the brand's marketing efforts.


Top photo from Singapore Airlines and Crazy Rich Asians Wikipedia