Orchard Road ice cream uncle gets sweet revamp courtesy of New Balance

If you have lived in Singapore long enough, you would have heard about Uncle Chieng – the 71-year-old uncle who sells ice cream by Orchard Road. Famous for his ice cream sandwiches, Uncle Chieng (pictured) has recently grabbed the attention of global sports brand New Balance.

New Balance has given Uncle Chieng’s ice cream cart a revamp donning it in its famous grey. In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesperson from New Balance said that the execution is part of its Grey Day 2021 celebration which spreads the message of “Worn by Anyone” to embrace the spirit of individuality.

The spokesperson said New Balance’s iconic colour, grey, has become synonymous with its heritage and independent spirit. “Grey day celebrates individuals who are fearlessly independent and live in the grey,” she said. Working with Uncle Chieng is one of the ways New Balance wanted to get its message out onto the streets. Other elements of the campaign focus on tactics of awareness, engagement and purchase. One of the signs on the card reads: "We've got another surprise in store!" and urges consumers to pop by New Balance's store at Paragon, which is opposite from Uncle Chieng's cart, for a Grey Day experience.

Meanwhile, in line with heightened restrictions which kicked in on 16 May in Singapore, the spokesperson said Uncle Chieng will be moving to the heartlands to bring Grey Day closer to the communities.

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"Uncle Chieng started selling ice cream and drinks outside Ngee Ann City when the mall opened, and his 26-year journey has seen him moving from an anonymous street vendor to an icon of Singapore. He is also incredibly friendly and personable and does not shy away from hard work and spending hours on his feet. And that is what we saw as embodying the fearlessly independent spirit," the spokesperson added.

The campaign was planned since January this year and takes into consideration a multi-pronged approach. This campaign was the brainchild of Distilleri, which also planned and executed creatives, production and PR. The digital videos were created in collaboration with Safe House Media. According to the agency, given New Balance already has very high brand awareness, the campaign looked to reinforce its brand positioning.

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Campaign execution with KOLs

The campaign also involves creative duo Jon Tan and Nathaniel Fong, calligraphy artist Malik Mazlan, and fashion designer Hu Ruixian chosen. “Each of these people are fearlessly independent in their own right, and live life in the grey,” said the spokesperson.

As multidisciplinary creatives, Tan and Fong use their skills to create visual and creative content. Connected through their mutual love for fashion, this duo puts their mark on every project they work on with their distinctive style and attitude.

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Founder of Studio HHFZ, Hu creates modern cheongsams and bespoke gowns inspired by her Chinese heritage. Blending tradition and modernity, she aims to encourage youths to reconnect with their roots and express their individuality confidently through clothing.

As a Malay Singaporean calligraphy artist, Malik pushes the boundaries of Chinese calligraphy through technology. Hoping to make the ancient artform relatable to the younger generation, he challenges norms with his unique artistic expression.

Along with the personalities, the New Balance Paragon store has also been turned into an immersive Grey Area where the public can pen down what the colour or word “grey” means to them. Video content is also being produced to showcase what grey means to the KOLs chosen.