Decoding the legacy of Penn Masala—The World’s First South Asian A Cappella Group

From performing for President Obama to making a cameo appearance in Pitch Perfect 2, Penn Masala has pretty much done it all. The first ever group to bring the sounds of the Indian subcontinent to a cappella, Penn Masala creates music that traverses traditional cultural boundaries.

Founded in 1996 by four University of Pennsylvania students, Penn Masala has ever since been at the forefront of South Asian-Western fusion. A fusion that captures the essence of growing up with Indian and Western cultural influences and seamlessly integrates Western pop and Eastern melodies. Members join the group when they enroll into UPenn and become proud Penn Masala alumni when they graduate; making way for newer members to join.

Here’s taking you on a melodious journey of through some of their most iconic moments, lauded works, and celebrated performances.

Evolution of Bollywood Music – Penn Masala

This viral sensation that encapsulates the evolution of Bollywood music from 1940 to 2014 skyrocketed Penn Masala’s already rising popularity in India. They went on to perform this very medley at the IIFA awards—one of Bollywood’s biggest yearly award functions.

Pitch Perfect 2 – Any Way You Want It feat. Penn Masala

The group that earned its reputation through the music of Bollywood, made it to the big screens of Hollywood with this feature in Pitch Perfect 2.

Agar Tum Saath Ho / Treat You Better

The first single in Penn Masala’s 10th studio album, Yuva, combines the brilliance of Shawn Mendes and A.R. Rahman to create this magical eargasm.

Performing at The White House for President Obama


We hope you liked this list as much as we do. And if you do, you can head over to Penn Masala’s YouTube channel to check out their extensive body of work and give them a subscribe.

Written by Rohan Grover
Copywriter (English Division)

(Top Video)
Viva La Vida / Jashn-e-Bahara
This beautiful mash-up featuring Coldplay’s Grammy-winning Viva La Vida and AR Rahman’s IIFA winning Jashn-e-Bahara is one of Penn Masala’s most iconic mash-ups and the defining melody of their 2010 International Tour where the group performed in various cities in India, England, Canada, as well as throughout the United States.

Not Celebrating Lunar New Year? You’re Out!

Here comes the ad of GUCCI’s latest capsule collection – a group of relaxed young people wearing Three Little Pigs-heavy apparels and enjoying luxurious New York lives in the company of their pet pigs. This picture, taken in a chic apartment near Central Park, is promoting the brand’s global collection designed for the 2019 Lunar New Year starting on February 5th. Guess what is the zodiac animal for 2019?

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is the most celebrated cultural holiday among 2 billion East Asians worldwide. The holiday is a two-week festival filled with reunions among family and friends, auspicious wishes and, very importantly, lavish shopping and traveling.

It has long been a tradition for brands in Asia to celebrate this festival. But now, Lunar New Year is evolving and going global, thanks to the significant spending power of Asia’s market and Asian Americans, as well as their growing influence in global consumer trends. Realizing the enormous business opportunity, brands are making devoted efforts for this season to delight, not just Asians, but trendsetters around the world who are hungry for cultural experiences.

This sub-context has set the tone for brands’ Lunar New Year products and campaigns – modern and trendy yet still revolving around traditional rituals to fit the festive spirit and need. Here are the six rituals that have commanded brands’ celebrations of the season.

1. Wear New Things

Lunar New Year marks a time of change and new beginnings (what a perfect excuse for shopping!). Wearing brand new things on New Year’s Day symbolizes forgetting misfortunes and welcoming good luck.

This explains why luxury fashion and accessories brands are among the most vigorous players of the season. Different tiers of luxury brands are aggressively engaging their target groups with exclusive designs.

While GUCCI plays chic vintage in its Year of Pig collection, Louis Vuitton enchants fans with cute and chubby piggy accessories.

Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton

For the rich, there is Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Pig watch in 18-karat rose gold and in a limited edition of 88 pieces.

Photo Credit: Chopard

For the young and trendy, Longchamp has collaborated with popular Chinese fashion influencer Mr. Bags to create a line of adorable bags and accessories. (Sorry, this collection has already been sold out in the U.S. thanks to eager fashionistas!)

Photo Credit: Longchamp

2. Fresh up the Look

New Year, New Look. To be precise, a radiant and glowing look.

Beauty is another industry that is big on this season. Skincare and cosmetic brands and beauty retailers are gearing up to send out their most beautiful New Year’s wishes.

GIVENCHY’s beauty line is promoting these elegant limited editions on the home page of its official website in the U.S.


TATCHA, a San Francisco based high-end beauty brand, has launched a new brightening serum priced at $88. No. 8 is regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture with its pronunciation similar to the word ‘fortune’, and is frequently used in Lunar New Year greetings and celebrations.

Photo Credit: TATCHA

Sephora in Canada has rolled out a celebratory promotion with a curated collection – brands’ Lunar New Year limited editions and products with a touch of lucky red in their packaging.

Photo Credit: Sephora Canada

3. Enjoy Opulent Feasts

Just like Thanksgiving, Lunar New Year is the time for family and friends to gather over dinners, especially the feast on the Lunar New Year’s Eve which is the ultimate embodiment of reunion. These celebratory gatherings are certain to have an abundance of delicacies and good wine.

Food and beverage brands are the early birds in celebrating this cultural festival and have been passionately launching special merchandises in both local and travel retail channels.

Whether it is for self-consumption or gifting, premium liquor has always been a darling choice for wealthy and sophisticated consumers. This year, Hennessy has continued its collaboration with acclaimed Chinese artists for its limited edition. The design is filled with auspicious Chinese cultural symbols that together present a “dream of past and present, heaven and earth — the natural and beautiful cycle of life”, according to a statement by Hennessy.

Photo Credit: Hennessy

There are treats for the sweet tooth too. Godiva has been launching zodiac-shaped chocolates for more than a decade and what’s refreshing to see is that Sugarfina, a trendy candy brand that is often labeled as the Tiffany of candies, is celebrating the Year of the Pig in the U.S. in the cutest way with strawberry flavor bite-sized gummy pigs!

Photo Credit: Sugarfina

Taking note the soaring popularity of Asian food and Asian chefs in the U.S., food and lifestyle retailers, such as Williams Sonoma, are creating special collections to help their consumers design menus and select themed décor for Lunar New Year parties.

Photo Credit: Williams-Sonoma

4. Exchange Gifts (Including Money)

Gift giving, especially to children and seniors, is an essential Lunar New Year tradition to show one’s love and respect to family and friends.

LEGO’s Year of the Pig sets, family reunion dinner and dragon dance with figures in pig suits, have quickly become one of the most desired toy gifts for the season, especially for today’s Asian American parents who endeavor to foster their children’s cultural confidence.

Photo Credit: Lego

Compared to physical gifts, another form of Lunar New Year gifting is even more rooted – money. Cash are packed inside a red envelope and given out as a wish for prosperity. Now, with the world adopting digital payment and China marching into cashless economy, what is more common (and actually more fun) to do is customizing and exchanging red envelops trough Apps at Smartphones – a staggering 688 million people worldwide have used WeChat Red Envelope during 2018 Lunar New Year! If you don’t know what is WeChat, here is a concise intro of this super app.

WeChat Red Envelopes

5. Travel

Do you know that Lunar New Year is actually the world’s largest annual human migration? With close to 400 million people traveling to home and 7 million traveling around the world for vacations, Lunar New Year is a golden week for global tourism. America is ranked one of the top vacation destinations, and Chinese tourists on average spend $7,000 per person during their stay in the U.S., according to U.S. Commerce Department.

More and more retail and hospitality brands are hosting themed celebrations to welcome both local shoppers and Asian tourists who are in joyful buying mood.

As the largest shopping mall in the west coast, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, for instance, has put up store decorations, cultural performances and in-store promotions to attract the crowd.

Photo Credit: South Coast Plaza

In Universal Studios Hollywood, one will be greeted by Minions in traditional Chinese attire and a Mandarin-speaking Megatron, and can learn Kung Fu with the Dragon Warriors in an interactive show.

Photo Credit: Universal Studios

In Las Vegas, a 20-foot high jade coin is displayed at Bellagio Conservatory to wish people good luck.

Photo Credit: Bellagio Conservatory

6. Entertain and Have Fun

The joy of Lunar New Year is essentially for everyone!

For E-sports gamers, League of Legends is arming the pig-riding warriors with a set of electrifying Lunar New Year skins!

Photo Credit: League of Legends

For families with young kids, there is Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year, a feature film co-developed by the producer of Peppa Pig, a famous British animation series, and Alibaba Pictures. For those who don’t know Peppa Pig – this pink piggy and her animal friends are like Avengers to preschoolers worldwide.

Photo Credit: Alibaba Pictures

For classic music lovers, New York Philharmonic’s annual Lunar New Year celebration comes with a fiery program!

Photo Credit: New York Philharmonic

Savvy brands across numerous industries are capitalizing on Lunar New Year and engaging the aspiring global Asian consumers and beyond. The celebrations are indeed everywhere!

In the U.S., with Asian Americans being the fastest-growing group and shaping mainstream culture, Lunar New Year is no doubt an auspiciously promising business opportunity brands should not miss out. A smart Lunar New Year campaign creates a good impression and entrance, but what helps brands sustain a strong relationship with Asian Americans and stand out from competitions are continuous and meaningful engagement.

Curious to know how? Drop us a line. We wish you a Happy New Year, again!

Written by Selina Guo
Planning Director

Top 8 Asian Beauty Vloggers Continued!

Continuing on our list of the best Asian Beauty and Fashion experts to follow, here are our Top 8 Picks beyond Chinese-North Americans.

These gals (and guys) are rocking in-language and English vlogs across Asia and North-America. Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, you name it.

#1 PONY Syndrome

PONY’s Korean in-language channel rose to fame starting with her 2016 Taylor Swift transformation video. That single video went viral and cracked 19M views. For the most part, her videos are easy to follow tutorials and beauty tips, with a few shocking transformations. Her 4.5M followers garner her over a million views per video.

#2 Asahi Sasaki

Proclaimed self-taught Sasaki does everything from day-to-day makeup to horror-makeup on her YouTube vlog sasakiasahi. An example of her variety is her visual masterpiece “1000 years of Japanese Beauty – Evolution of Women” that takes the viewer from different eras of Japanese beauty (2.9M views). As of late, her videos keep to product reviews and tutorials but they’re still a ton of fun.

#3 Yuuri Fukuse

Another Japanese makeup transformer is Yuuri Fukuse. Watching her take herself from pretty freckled girl-next-door to Pink-haired Glam Star is always a mesmerizing experience. She is unrecognizable at the end of most of her videos. Our favorite tutorials are her Disney transformations thought it’s been a while. Her following is a respectable 500+k on YouTube and 82K on Instagram.

#4 Miki Kawanishi

Ok, one more Japanese star. In one of her most popular videos, Miki takes us through her morning routine. Even though her YouTube following hasn’t broken 1M, this video got her 6.2M views! She explains all the details including contacts that expand your irises. Her upbeat attitude is a lot of fun to follow.

#5 Patrick Starr

How can we have an Asian beauty blogger list and not include mega-star(r) Patrick Starr?! Filipino-American Patrick has been making it BIG in beauty. Celebrities flock to co-star in his videos. Patrick not only makes beauty fun and approachable, but he takes it to the next level. Supporter and member of the LGBTQ community, Patrick reaches out to EVERYONE to embrace themselves. Now that’s real beauty!

#6 Promise Tamang

Not your average beauty blogger, Nepalese-American goes beyond day-to-day makeup and does full transformations. From Disney Princesses to turning her husband into the Grinch, Promise is about having fun. Her YouTube channel dope2111 has a fantastic 5.5M followers averaging easily over 1.5M views a video.

#7 Kim Thai

Ok, not interested in looking like Elsa from Frozen? Got it. Vietnamese-American Kim Nguyen is a little more down to earth. Her body-positive tutorials are super cute and informative. She does product reviews and step-by-step videos. Of course it wouldn’t be Kim if there’s not a touch of comedy and realness. Sometimes eye shadows fall out of their case. Sometimes brows are uneven. But that’s what makes us love her. She’s also a joy to follow on Instagram with over 400K followers.

#8  Pearypie Amata Chittasenee

Thai-American Amata goes bilingual (Thai/English or no-dialogue on her videos and IG, making her easy to follow for any viewer. She has recently gone the extra mile in her videos. So even though you’re gonna see some morning makeup routines, you’re also gonna see some fantastic fashion and travel.  Shiseido recently collaborated with Pearypie on The MASTER of ALL project, highlighting Amata’s rise to fame.

We could have kept going but the list is endless. We haven’t even touched upon South Asian Beauty! These men and women are transforming the beauty industry in their own unique ways – using their voices, skills and talents to influence tomorrow’s consumers. We’ll be watching as we are sure you will too.

Top 5 Chinese Beauty Vloggers You Should be Following

Influencers come and go, but when it comes to beauty, skin care, and fashion, people across the globe still rely on the advice from a trusted name.

Influencers who live under a flag of integrity and expertise harness the most loyal of followers; those who check in on a regular basis for the latest news. We’ve taken the lot and pulled some of our favorites, both long-time champs and brave newcomers. Check out our list and follow some of these fascinating, inspiring new voices in Asian beauty.

From K and J Beauty to South Asian Looks, we couldn’t fit it all into one list. We focused today on Chinese-heritage influencers. So be sure to follow up with our next round-up on Asian Beauty that explores other growing voices across the Asian diaspora.

#1 Rainie Tian

Chinese-born, Toronto-based Rainie has scored a respectable 349.5k YouTube followers. Her makeup-heavy videos are informative, her breakdowns and reviews straight-forward. She performs in-language Mandarin but her texts are bilingual – so whether or not you speak Chinese, you can still follow along to a certain extent. Her IG @raintainie, with 186k followers, needs no translation and is more fashion than makeup.

#2 Oh Emma

Canada is producing a lot of stars and Oh Emma is one of them. The proud mother of the CUTEST baby boy is fashion heavy on her IG @oops_ohemma with 199k followers while her YouTube with 321.6k followers is more geared towards her makeup and skin care topics in Mandarin. Her latest video published in Dec. 2018 reviews multiple Japanese makeup products – those that are more esoteric to American general market – making her videos extra interesting.

#3 Nana OuYang

Young (18 years old) and talented, the Taiwanese professional cellist and actress, has made a splash in China. Her IG account has a whopping 1.8M followers, she’s acted alongside mega stars like Jackie Chan. She’s been featured in Shiseido ads and Vogue China. But her Asian American relevancy is only just coming to fruition. Nana OuYang only joined the YouTube crowd in February 2018 with Nabi’s School Life but has already gathered 272.6k followers. Her videos that she unapologetically titles “Vlog [number]” range on topics, from music to cooking to her morning makeup routine.

#4 Maaaxter English

Unlike the predessors in this article, Maaaxter performs bilingually in both Chinese and English, from her home base in Los Angeles. Her main goal is to teach English to Chinese speakers through interesting and compelling themes. Her topics range from everyday conversations like buying your morning coffee to the intricacies of politics. When she talks about beauty and fashion, it’ll be a video like her 26 Luxury Brands Name Pronunciation which reeled in 287k views.

#5 Savislook

Based out of the US, the world-traveler Savislook is hard to pin down. From Milan to Tokyo, Savislook takes her fashion and beauty vlogs wherever she goes. In-language Mandarin, the young and hip Savi screams Crazy Rich Asian glamour and Parisian decadence in all the best ways. It’s no wonder her IG and YouTube channels have about 360k followers total.

Love our roundup? Be sure to check out our next round of Asian Influencers.

Who is Mukesh Ambani? The Indian Billioinare who got Beyoncé to perform at his daughter’s wedding

Courtesy: Beyonce’s Instagram

There are a few celebrities in our celeb-obsessed world that create mass hysteria among their fans. And then there is Beyoncé. For over two decades now, Queen B has been ruling the hearts and minds of her fans and more recently breaking the Internet in ways that weren’t thought possible. But if you are someone who has been online before then we don’t need to give you a 101 on the superstar power of Beyoncé.  You probably already know about her beauteous pregnancy photo shoots that gathered millions of likes within minutes and her recent groundbreaking Coachella performance. Or her epic album drops and the elevator showdown between her sister Solange and husband and music mogul Jay-Z.  As marketers, you might even follow her every move because who else can give us better lessons in hype marketing and exclusivity than her?

Mukesh Ambani (center) with his wife Nita Ambani (right center) and daughter Isha (left center) with her husband Anand Piramal (right) and his parents (left)
Courtesy: Times of India

If so, then you might be left wondering recently that what one of the biggest music superstars on the planet was doing when she performed at a wedding in India? Well, then hold on to your seatbelts because we are about to introduce to you to one of Asia’s biggest billionaires you might have not heard of: Mukesh Ambani, the man who casually dropped $100 million for his daughter’s wedding. Mumbai-based Ambani, whose net worth at the moment is $44.3 billion is not only the richest man in India but as of 2018 in entire Asia, leaving behind Alibaba’s Jack Ma. Though you might have heard of Antilla, his palatial, 27-story residence in Mumbai, which is often compared to the Buckingham Palace in its grandness. While Jack Ma, started China’s extremely popular shopping platform, Alibaba, Ambani is the Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, India’s second-biggest company. Reliance Industries started when his father, the late Dhirubhai Ambani set it up as a textile and fabric manufacturing company. Over the years the company diversified into refinery and petrochemicals and then telecom and retail. Incidentally, Reliance Industries is the same company responsible for India’s recent Internet explosion by providing fast-speed Internet at throwaway prices. Which, as we pointed out here, is already changing the global pop-cultural landscape by introducing a heavy Indian influence. According to Bloomberg, this fast speed Internet connection, called Jio is also responsible for the recent surge in his wealth that pushed him to the top of the Billionaire List.


So when his 26-year old daughter, Isha Ambani, who was quickly dubbed as the ‘Indian billionaire heiress’ by the US media was to get married to Anand Piramal, the executive director of the Piramal Group, another of India’s top companies, it was expected to the extra-est Indian wedding ever. And it was. In an Indian wedding season that was decked with famous couples like Priyanka Chopra and Nick Joans, the Ambani-Parimal wedding upstaged everyone with its bigness, fatness, and Indianness. With a price tag of $100 million Harry-Megan Royal Wedding was $40 million in comparison), the bride’s trousseau alone cost $12 million. Apart from Beyoncé, who was present with her Mom Tina Knowles, minus Jay-Z, the celebrity guest list also included Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Ariana Huffington. But beyond the international guests, the wedding seemed to have summoned the entirety of Bollywood, including superstar Shah Rukh Khan, and barely fresh off her own wedding, Priyanka Chopra along with husband Nick Jonas. Like most typical Indian weddings, the festivities lasted for a week but unlike most Indian weddings, it created a buzz that’s lasted much longer. So if you are still wondering, what does it take to have Beyoncé perform a private concert? It’s ultimately a big, fat, Indian wedding.

PS. Since we are all collectively upset over not getting an invite to that wedding, here’s a Beyoncé gif that hopefully makes up for it!





Yashica Dutt, Associate Creative Director

Asia Tech 101: Tmall Basics


The nonintrusive name of “Tmall” probably hasn’t passed your way. Maybe an Asian friend dropped it in conversation while chatting about Christmas shopping and it struck you as “new”. But the decade old online retailer with $550 billion a year in sales, SHOULD be a name you know and know well. Putting that in perspective, Tmall beats out the entire US economy’s online sales.

What is Tmall:

If you haven’t heard of Tmall, you’ve probably heard of Alibaba, the mega-retailer/e-commerce-all-in-one company. (Think China’s – correction, the world’s – Amazon). Tmall, formally known as Taobao Mall, falls under the Alibaba Family.

The platform is a B2C online retail space servicing China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Launched in 2008, the platform bypasses a lot of China’s hurdles, allowing global companies to sell directly to Chinese consumers. Such brands you’ll find on Tmall include P&G, Lipton, Reebok, and Samsung

Who uses Tmall:

Tmall comes in as the second largest e-commerce site in the world. 500 million users shop on a daily basis in China.

Tmall’s Homepage Features

What are its features:

Tmall offers a standard array of services that are customer facing such as live-chat with sellers and easy Alipay integration.

Tmall Singles Day Gala

How do businesses and marketers use it:

Business facing, Tmall offers less autonomy than normal. Brands must partner with a certified Tmall representative, who then supervises the online shop. But in return they’re given access to hundreds of millions of shoppers. There are banner placements and prominent special sales events – like Single’s Day and Double Day – that can lead to incredible revenue increases. is one of Tmall’s biggest competitors.

Who are its competitors: and Vipshop are some of Tmall’s biggest competitors. Both companies operate out of China and have similar offerings and platforms.

How does it compare:


Tmall gives shoppers easy, fast and reliable in-language access to millions of products.


For retailers, Tmall can be difficult to navigate and sustain. Having the right experienced, bilingual, bicultural team to guide you through the hurdles is essential for success.

Where is it going:

Just like the rest of China’s e-commerce industry, Tmall will only grow. Alibaba projects to serve 2 billion consumers by 2036 which adds up to one in every four people on the planet.

Written by XiaoHwa S. Ng
Digital Strategist 

Don’t know T-Series, The YouTube Channel That’ll Become the Most Subscribed in the World Any Minute Now? We’ve got you covered!

Courtesy: Social Blade

Let’s face it. We’re in the business of marketing and there has been a no bigger disrupter in our game in the past decade or so than YouTube. From creating YouTube stars to being the OG birthplace of influencers, it’s the streaming service crucial enough that when a big change happens, we pay attention. And right now, the biggest conversation about YouTube is the subscriber race to the top between two highly popular YouTube channels – PewDiePie and T-Series. Now, you might be familiar with PewDiePie, YouTube’s most subscribed channel since 2013, run by Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg who is known for his video game commentary and comedy vlogs. But if you are left wondering what exactly is a T-Series, then you’re not alone.


To most non-South Asians T-Series is a jumble of letters that probably make no sense. But to millions of us around the world, it’s often our connection to the cities, towns, and villages that we leave to move elsewhere. Technically, it’s the YouTube channel for one of India’s largest music and film production company that has been around since the ’80s and ironically enough has a Bollywood-style origin story of its own. ‘Cassette King’ Gulshan Kumar, who built his business as a juice seller started this company in 1983 selling pirated cassettes of mainly Hindi film music. His business grew so big and so quickly that by 1990 he was a music producer on his own and releasing music for one of the biggest Bollywood hits of the decade. Aashiqui, which has already seen two remakes and remains one of the romantic soundtracks to come out of Bollywood sold 20 million units back in the day. Think of T-series as one of Hollywood’s big six studios but from India. T-series is such an integral part of South Asia’s and specifically India’s cultural landscape that anyone who grew up since then can spot its instantly recognizable white T in a circle on a red background logo from a mile. Over time, T-Series has moved from music producing into film production releasing some of the biggest grossers in the past few years. Moreover, its expanded into many other Indian languages like Tamil, Telegu, and Malayalam and also doles out fitness and children’s content.

Courtesy: T-Series

While YouTube has been popular in India since the beginning, low Internet penetration so far has stopped it from becoming the force it is in the US or elsewhere. Even T-Series started a YouTube channel only in 2011 realizing that South Asians across the world were going online to watch songs from their favorite current and old movies. But just in a few years, it’s already rivaling PewDiePie’s extremely popular and much older YouTube channel to become the most subscribed in the world. – It’s already the YouTube channel with most views in the world. To anyone who understands the power of Bollywood, this wouldn’t come as a surprise. Unlike what most US media and YouTubers stunned by its rise are pointing out, T-Series is more than a channel with ‘Bollywood music videos’. In more ways than one, it is Bollywood. It is among the first Bollywood production companies that organized and uploaded its entire library of content on YouTube. For people, both living in India and outside, who went online to look for their favorite songs and found grainy, low-quality uploads with jerky sound quality, T-Series’ high-quality uploads were a blessing. Not to mention that as slickly produced, multistarrer Bollywood movies started making millions in India and across the world, the songs that featured in those movies gained the same traction. To compare, PewDiePie’s most viewed video has 83 million views, while T-Series’ most viewed video has close to 565 million views. According to Mashable, T-Series has 94 videos that surpass PewDiePie’s most watched video when it comes to views.


Sure, it’s easier for a Bollywood giant like T-Series to surpass PewDiePie, who is ultimately an individual YouTuber, in terms of both content and number of uploads. Part of this rise is also attributed to the recent dirt-cheap mobile Internet arriving on Indian phones. But it also shows a growing trend of interest in Indian content across the world. PewDiePie and his cohort of fans and supporters have launched an intense campaign — peppered with predictably racist attacks and showy gimmicks – to keep him at the number one spot. But with T-Series gaining 145,000 more subscribers per day, it might become the number one subscribed channel (and the first non-English channel to do so) in the world any minute now — we’ll keep our eye on the various live streams tracking the numbers and keep you updated.

South Asian content is already more visible in our pop culture than even a few years ago. With T-Series, that might push our optics even further. As marketers interested in a South Asian consumer, there has been no better time to reach out to them than the present.

PS. Here is an absolute fire of a diss track released by Indian-origin YouTuber JusReign in response to the racist backlash against T-Series, adding even more heat to this already spicy ‘war’ taking over the Internet. Enjoy!

Words: Yashica Dutt, Associate Creative Director



Asia Tech 101: LINE Basics


“What’s that? I feel like I’ve heard of it before. It’s green. Is it the one with the eyes? No? That’s WeChat. So which is LINE?”
– Real Life Conversations.

What is LINE:

LINE is a free messaging and voice call app that originated in Japan in 2011. It was originally designed by NHN Japan to facilitate employee communication after the Tōhoku earthquake. It went public a few months later. LINE quickly grew to 100 million users in its first 18 months.

Who uses LINE:

Today, LINE has over 700 million users worldwide. It is the most popular messaging service in Japan with an incredibly strong presence in Taiwan, Thailand, Turkmenistan and Indonesia. Runner ups are India and Spain. LINE’s demographic runs young – from Gen Z to early Millennial.

It services iOS, Android, Blackberry, Nokia, Windows Phone and PC (Windows and Mac) users.

What are its features:

LINE started as a basic messaging app out of necessity but has grown into a multi-function app.

Free and easy to use, LINE is popular for one-on-one and group messaging. Texts, photos, videos, and music are all shareable. Groups can be intimate amongst friends or up to 500 for more interest/community based topics.

Timeline and homepage features, reminiscent of oldie MySpace, are customizable with stickers and themes.

Stickers are a big attraction on LINE. A popular replacement for Emojis, stickers can be purchased or downloaded for free. Their popularity is tantamount to LINE’s own success. 1 Billion stickers are sent on a daily basis. You can even customize your own stickers and sell them. One creator in Taiwan made millions.

LINE FRIENDS (LINE’s sticker characters) even have brick and mortar shops, including one in Times Square, NYC, selling all things related to the characters. And it doesn’t stop there – there are video games, cafes and a character-themed hotel in Seoul.

LINE GAME is an additional install where users can play (both multi-player or solo) a range of games. By 2013, LINE GAMEs have been downloaded 200 million times.

LINE PAY is an in-app mobile payment system. Users can exchange money with each other. It can also be used for in-store purchases at participating retailers.

There are micro-functions per territories as well, including a taxi service in Japan, a food delivery service in Bangkok, and a video service in Taiwan.

LINE Lite launched in 2015, offering users all the messaging functions but with the frills of themes and timeline.

How do businesses and marketers use it:

Official Accounts are LINE’s influencer and business accounts. LINE users can follow these accounts for news, updates, promotions and more.

Companies can create LINE stickers based on their products, mascots, etc., and distribute them to LINE users. These stickers are used by LINE users to express feelings like “thanks” and “sorry,” and can also be used to promote your company’s products or services.

LINE Gift allows users to send electronic gifts to other users. This is a great business opportunity to share coupons, promotions, and gift cards.

Who are its competitors:

LINE’S biggest competitor is, of course, WeChat – Asia’s behemoth all-in-one app. WhatsApp is India’s choice of messaging service, so LINE has found only 2nd place in South Asia.

In the US, other messaging services like Facebook and WhatsApp and social apps like Twitter offer up a competitive market. But LINE fans are dedicated and passionate about the app with high active rates after download.

Click Here for more on WeChat.

How does it compare:


LINE has plenty to interact with. It’s fun nature is attractive to young users and it’s constant refreshment of content keeps them coming back.


LINE can only be used on one mobile-device and one personal computer at a time. In other words, if you have a multitude of devices you can only install on two.

Where is it going:

LINE is always doing something new. Its latest smart technology add is a function to that allows users to capture their facial features and embed them onto their characters. In real-time, your character can conduct a conversation while matching your expressions. Developments like this are always popping up with LINE.

LINE has plenty to offer businesses who want to target Asian Americans. To learn more, contact us!

Written by XiaoHwa S. Ng
Digital Strategist 


Photo: Matthew Henry

Why Asian Indian Children Excel At School?

Indian Parents are highly involved in their children’s education. Photo: Matthew Henry

No matter which part of the world they live in, there is one thing that all Indian parents can agree on: their children’s education – in Science or Math if they can get their way. They not only start saving for it right from when their kids are born, most Indian parents also prepare their kids to attend the best colleges from a really young age. In fact, growing up as an Indian kid whose parents cared deeply about education, I can attest that many Indian parents often consider their children’s education the single greatest achievement of their lives. And it is almost exclusively thanks to their drive, that Asian Indian children excel in academics in whichever country they live, including the United States. But what exactly motivates Asian Indian parents to get their children the best possible education. The easy answer would be cultural behavior. But we did some real research and got you the facts.

Asian Indians: Among the fastest growing population in the US

  • Asian Indians are among the fastest growing population in the US and since 2014, India and China have replaced Mexico as the top two immigrant origin nations.
  • 58% and 42% of Asian Indians live in the top 10 and top 5 US markets respectively. The top market locations include NY, NJ, SF, LA, Dallas, Chicago.
  • In 2016, 82% of the 85,000 new H1-B visas (for skilled young working professionals) were issued to Asian Indians and Chinese.
  • They constitute the highest median household income group at $110k
  • India and China continue to be the top two countries for international students for US colleges (Source: WSJ, 2015).

Asian Indian Behaviors and Attitudes Regarding Education

  • Indian parents are extremely ambitious for their children and over 51% rank career success as the most popular goal for them, even above a happy life, and carry that same attitude when they move to the US.
  • Over 91% see an undergraduate education as essential to achieving life goals. (HSBC Survey Report: The Value for Education: Learning for Life)

Indian parents start saving for their kids’ education right from when they are born. Photo: Nicole De Khors

Education: The biggest life goal

  • Asian Indian parents are willing to go above and beyond to ensure the best possible education for their children. Most start saving for it from a young age, often from when their children turn five.
  • They send their children to some classes – be it Sunday school or STEM classes — even before official SAT prep begins.
  • Most believe higher education the only way to earn respect as immigrants in America and dropping out of college is never an option.

Highly Competitive Attitudes

 Asian Indian community is highly competitive when it comes to education. Children’s high scores are a source of pride for the entire family and low scores a reason for shame.

  • No Asian Indian parent wants their child to be ‘left behind’ the others and parents are constantly enrolling their children in activities that other kids are doing.
  • After-school classes and scores are a frequent topic of discussion at most local events and community gatherings.

Extremely Hands-on Parenting Style

  • Asian Indian Parents are extremely involved in their children’s education, personally helping them with homework and overseeing their academic progress.
  • They constantly communicate with teachers and also supplement the coursework by adding extra lessons and practice tests for their children, sometimes even with material above their current grades.
  • American school system is considered less rigorous than India with lesser emphasis on STEM subjects.

High Expectations and Hopes

  • Asian Indian parents have equally high expectations from their children and expect nothing less than the highest scores.
  • Lower scores (even an -A compared to an A) are considered unacceptable and unsatisfactory. (Asian Indian Mothers Involved in their children’s schooling: An analysis of social and cultural capital)

Their extensive focus on education, competitive, excellence-pursuing attitudes, and community-based information exchange makes them a unique consumer group, but this behavior is also visible throughout all communities of Asian Americans. Not just Asian Indian but Chinese American, Korean American, Filipino, Pakistani and Vietnamese American parents also show similar drive for their children’s education. Given that it’s little surprise that Asians Americans are shaping up to become one of the most formidable and fastest growing minorities in the US.




Written by Yashica Dutt, Associate Creative Director 

Asia Tech 101 – WeChat Basics

You’re here to learn about WeChat. You may have heard of WeChat in passing – perhaps from an Asian friend? Or you were curious what that green logo and speech bubble was for? Or maybe the word has been thrown around at work. Whatever the reason you’re here, what you do have is a sneaking suspicious that if you don’t know what WeChat is in 2018, then you are WAY behind.

What is WeChat:

The multi-purpose app has been around since 2011 and services over a billion users. Developed by Chinese company, Tencent, its original Chinese name was Weixin 微信, means “micro-messaging”. It took on the name “WeChat” in 2012 when it went global.

Who uses WeChat:

WeChat is used all over the world but 90% of its users are in China. 3.5 million Chinese tourists visit the US every year, bringing their WeChats with them, and Asian Americans are also strong users.

What are its features:

One of the most complex apps on the market, WeChat offers messaging, mobile-payments, GPS sharing, sharing content, and integrates with popular Social Media platforms like Facebook (in the US) and Tencent QQ (in China). It also has its own social feed called “Moments”. Both businesses and individuals can create accounts, gain followers and communicate with them en masse.

WeChat has a robust QR scan function that is utilized by almost every business account on the app.

In China, its “City Services” feature is used for booking appointments, paying utilities and other city-related topics.

“Enterprise WeChat” is a work-level function that offers employers a way to group their employees, communicate, and other business-related micro-functions.

Since you can link your WeChat with your bank account, mobile-payments through the app are incredibly popular. Money can trade hands amongst friends, for services, for goods, and for paying bills.

Update: As of the New Year 2019, WeChat has added an “Instagram Story-like” video feature called Time Capsule to compete with Snap, Instagram, TikTok and other social apps.

For many, it’s an all-in-one app. Note: not all features available in China are available in the US, thus taking a deeper dive, or tapping an agency’s expertise, are essential when expanding into WeChat.

How do businesses and marketers use it:

Taking advantage of its multitude of functions, companies have done everything – Lucky Red Envelope giveaways, QR code product placement, creating mini-apps within the app and more.

Because of its business accounts, Enterprise functions and mobile-payments, companies can open micro-stores.

Like other Social Platforms, marketers tap popular influencers (WeChat Official Accounts) to spread their messaging.

Who are its competitors:

For Mobile Payment, WeChat’s biggest competitor is Alipay, another China-lead app for mobile and online payments. Other competitors in different sectors are Skype, WhatsApp, and Line.

In the US, WeChat top competitors are monoliths like Facebook and Paypal. It has struggled to break into the US market’s general populace.

How does it compare:


Functionality and popularity is the name of the game. Over a billion users? Unlimited ways to connect with your followers? And it’s free. Yes, please.


Unlike other Social Platforms who can blast their followers all day long, WeChat has advertisement restrictions and only allow WeChat Official Account Users 2 advertisements per day. This hasn’t stopped businesses from cashing in though. With a solid strategy, this con can be turned into a pro.

Where is it going:

WeChat continues to launch new functions that attract more and more users and capital. There doesn’t seem to be any slowing.

If you want to crack into the China market in China or the Asian American market here, a WeChat campaign is essential for success.

Written by XiaoHwa Sydney Ng
Strategy, Admerasia