Captive business executives

In the lift lobby on the way to the office, and in fact anywhere people have eyes in Singapore, there are lots of screens playing an endless loop of adverts, in between adverts for the screens themselves, promising to reach “business executives in a captive audience”. The ads normally don’t leave any sort of impression individually, beyond a sort of sadness that jungle music is used to sell tights now.

This morning, though, there was a great one for Yahoo answers. European executive walks into hawker centre, sees lots of empty seats, smiles, prepares to sit – but wait! Every seat has a small packet of tissues placed on it – all the seats in the hawker centre have been reserved. The next day, he’s back, with an armful of toilet roll in Yahoo corporate purple: two seconds later, every seat is wrapped. Success.

Using packets of tissues to reserve (“chope“) a place is something that my Singaporean friends here joke about, the way I might mock my countrymen for queueing without a fuss: still, every lunchtime it confuses me, thinking that a seat is free before realising the tiny coloured plastic square means it’s been taken. An expat friend of mine told me over the weekend that she’d tried to save a place using something else once, and been told off by an uncle – “must be tissues!”. No point something being a norm if it isn’t normative.

These tissues look like they’d be best at saving a place.

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