SG Hawkerfest Campaign: Food is Art
The campaign to celebrate Singapore’s successful inscription of hawker culture in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List combines two things all Singaporeans love: free stuff and food.
SG HawkerFest, which runs from 26 December 2020 to 11 January 2021, is mostly an online affair. The main campaign involves completing hawker trivia quizzes on a minisite in exchange for $2 vouchers which can be used in one of the 29 participating hawker centres.
The hawker centres range from old-school legends such as People’s Park Food Centre and hawker culture’s poster child Tiong Bahru Market to newer additions such as those in Kampung Admiralty and Yishun Park.
It is commendable that the National Envrionment Agency (NEA) created a publicly-accessible e-resource kit for this campaign. Usually, style guides are only released for crowdsourced art projects when outsiders have to handle the logo. This is still a welcome change as it gives us an inside look into the thinking behind aesthetic choices.
The logo’s shape is inspired by old-school hawker signboards. SG HawkerFest is written in all four official languages, and the only graphic in the logo is a typical hawker centre round table and chairs. According to the resource kit, the logo “symbolises a communal gathering point for both hawkers and patrons”, likening hawker centres to community dining rooms.
The style guide establishes the dos-and-don’ts for the logo, along with the colour palette and fonts used - a good refresher on how to create a set of brand guidelines.
The two accompanying illustration sets, which adorn all campaign material, do the heavy lifting for the identity. The first set is a panoramic view of a hawker centre by creative studio 8EyedSpud - they recently posted sketches and the full piece on their Instagram page.
The other set, made by Tell Your Children, is full of gradients which gives off a regal feel, fitting for a culture which has just been elevated to internationally recognised status.
Coinciding with this campaign is the #ThankYouHawkers Art Project by the National Heritage Board. Illustrations by four local artists were commissioned and put up as banners at hawker centres.
Compared to the oursgheritage identity which got Singaporeans to support the UNESCO bid, there is less emphasis on visual consistency for SG HawkerFest. Instead, this campaign encouraged artistic interpretations, showcasing vibrancy in Singaporean art styles, which can also be said about the variety of food hawker centres offer.
Simple Idea, Simple Pleasures
SG HawkerFest’s idea is simple, but do not discount its impact in getting people to visit new hawker centres. The five trivia quizzes cover hawker centres on all four corners of Singapore (plus one wildcard where the reward can be redeemed in any of the participating hawker centres), nudging Singaporeans to venture out of their usual go-to hawker centres.
The mobile-first minisite is simple enough to navigate. Choose the hawker centre location and answer the trivia quiz. There is no penalty for getting an answer wrong - just try again. Note that you cannot change the hawker centre location and voucher collection timing once you select them.
You can even customise your avatar, but it is purely for cosmetic purposes.
The SG HawkerFest campaign also includes a digital video series on NEA’s social media accounts which profiles pioneering hawkers.
A platform called Hawkers’ Seminar is also slated to launch soon. Hawkers’ Seminar would allow hawkers to “exchange ideas, celebrate hawkers’ achievements, and contribute to ongoing efforts to sustain the hawker trade”.
The inscription of hawker culture on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list is just the first step in ensuring its longevity, which is currently threatened by an aging population of hawkers. Hopefully, this inscription would inspire more young people to enter the hawker trade, and future national campaigns would likely work towards this goal.