Singapore's Sentosa Island resort, which welcomes almost 20 million visitors annually, keeps booking tours—for free—even though its theme parks, beaches, museums and casino remain closed through June 1 amid the coronavirus crisis.
Of course, you can't enjoy the sunshine, surf, exotic cuisine and night life in the flesh. But working with BBH Singapore, the Sentosa Development Corp. is offering virtual visits to "Sentosa Crossing" via the wildly popular Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
"It made a lot of sense to do it on Animal Crossing—it's trending worldwide since people are playing it while staying home, and it's at the top of all the gaming charts," BBH senior copywriter Adeline Siow tells Muse.
In the clip below, a cute animated version of Sentosa chief executive Quek Swee Kuan gets the party started:
"In a way, it's almost the perfect platform for us—because it is all about using your creativity to create any kind of island you like," Siow says. "So, we looked at some of the signature locations on Sentosa—its beach bars and adventure-themed attractions—then designed items to transform our initially deserted virtual island."
Next, you can compare the Sentosa Crossing to the IRL thing:
BBH strove "to be as faithful as possible to Sentosa within the limitations of the Animal Crossing world," says Siow. "We had to cleverly design logos and patterns that could fit within the 8-bit constraints. We had to work around attractions that aren't available in-game. For example, imprinting the illusion of a 3-D luge cart on the ground. We've even tried to mimic Sentosa's natural landscape by using the terraforming function in the game to make it as close to reality as possible."
You can view more highlights below:
"We wanted to speak to everyone who's longing for their life pre-Covid," says BBH strategy chief Rebecca Ash. "While not all of them would own a Switch or the Animal Crossing game, what we saw in the data showed a wide cultural appeal."
The initiative leverages a trend among Animal Crossing gamers to fashion fantasy islands of all sorts (and in-game destination weddings!). It recalls Milka's recent Easter egg hunt inside Fortnite—though the confectioner's efforts were kid-focused and frenetic (plus, there was an actual game to win) while Sentosa Crossing emphasizes fun and leisure for all.
Up to 36 players per day can register for a Sentosa Crossing escape. (Wouldn't want those 8-bit beaches to get ridiculously crowded, right?)
Folks not into Switch or Animal Crossing can check out Instagram for Sentosa-themed playlists curated by local DJs and cocktail recipes, or work off their "Covid 19" with beach yoga on Facebook through month's end.