Haughty Horses and Clueless Crocodilians

January 25, 2007 Blog 13 comments

Two things caught my eye today as I scanned the newspapers.

The more highly publicised one was of course the untimely demise of Crazy Horse Paris, a topless cabaret show that kicked off 14 months ago with much ra-ra and buzz. Touted to bring Singapore’s entertainment to an exciting feverish pitch, it somehow failed to live up to expectations.

What led to its early departure from Singapore’s nightlife scene?

I believe that awareness is not the reason. Ask anybody in Singapore if they have heard of Crazy Horse Paris and the answer would probably be a resounding “YES” (or maybe a sheepish one for some). The huge initial wave of publicity which the venue enjoyed plus its uniqueness made it a household name. While more prominent advertising may possibly help to elevate its awareness and top-of-mind-recall, I seriously don’t think that’s a factor.

So what really went wrong for the world’s largest Crazy Horse venue?

1) Cultural Fit. People in Asia, least of all Singapore are still conservative and shy at heart. Censorship applies in Singapore because the majority still hold on to traditional values. There is also little resonance between dancing European women and the average Singaporean or tourist.

2) Price. While our economy may be booming, most Singaporeans are rather price conscious. The low air ticket prices to regional destinations like Bangkok (where the horses are probably crazier!) makes the value proposition offered by Crazy Horse less attractive. I also don’t see why high net worth gentlemen and ladies would want to be seen in such a public place.

3) Partnerships. In any lifestyle business, especially one that is very tourist centric, you need to forge strong alliances with value chain partners. This will mean travel agents, hotels, airlines, clubs, associations, and societies. You must offer special deals, commissions and kickbacks that make it worthwhile for others to promote you. I remembered that Neptune Theatre (another topless revue which went defunct a couple of months ago) kept itself alive for a considerably longer time through doing a lot of D&Ds with associations and unions.

4) Renewal. You need to constantly innovate and refresh your act to keep the audiences interested. It is unlikely that people will watch a movie in the cinema multiple times unless it is a blockbuster or a golden favourite with strong sentimental value. This is why attractions like the zoo and science centre constantly introduce new exhibits, programmes and highlights. While Crazy Horse did change its performances later, it was already too late to change people’s mindset that it is the same old show

On the western end of the island, we read about a family of crocodiles languishing in a habitat which isn’t fit for even cold-blooded reptilians. Matched against its illustrious avian neighbours (Jurong Bird Park), it obviously had to play a very hard catch-up game.

What’s surprising though is that the Jurong Crocodile Paradise actually has over 2,500 crocodiles, arapaimas (the world’s largest freshwater fish), pythons, terrapins, underwater viewing areas, a breeding enclosure, and daily Steve Irwin inspired crocodile-wrestling shows! At a low cost of only $2, it obviously was good value for money. I would have brought my family to visit it, if only I knew about it.

In this case, the biggest problem was truly the lack of awareness. If Crazy Horse feels that its publicity reach was inadequate, then the crocodile farm’s must be truly abysmal.

Jurong Crocodile Paradise could have also tied-up more aggressively with Jurong Bird Park or other western attractions (Singapore Discovery Centre, Singapore Science Centre etc) to provide value to customers. These packages may give more reasons for people to bring their families there for a day of fun.

In addition, it should have participated as a member of the Association of Singapore Attractions and leveraged on our network of brochure racks around the island at tourist destinations and entry points. These brochures have high visibility and can generate attention if they are attractively done.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. I think your analysis of Crocodile Farm is spot-on. So little publicity; many of us didn’t know it had other animals besides crocodiles.

    As for the Crazy Horses – they simply misread the Sporeans. It is neither here nor there. Too bold for the conservative; too arty for the general public and too tame for those who want to see nudity.

    I fear our IR’s will face the same problem.

  2. hahaha…. the ‘cleanliness’ of Singapore is well-known, so how could shows like Crazy Horse and Neptune Threater’s Topless Dancing survive here? Sure to fold wan what!

    The prices so expensive, one ticket to the above-mentioned shows can go Geylang for action a few times.

    I used to bring my foreign friends to Crocodile Paradise, after visiting Jurong Bird Park. It had a 4-faced Buddha in its compund once but was told to remove it by the authorities. People from all over Singapore went to pray to the Buddha, including my hubby from the east.

    Often it is our ‘talented’ civil servants who are inflexible and rigid in their dealings. Like the Tang Dynasty City. The owner lost millions of dollars & was declared a bankrupt because of lots of restrictions. And if PM had not intervened, the Duck tour bus would have died too. Also the Hippo.

    IRs? They don’t stand much of a chance. You want to do something, either go all the way or don’t do it, ai mai ai mai (indecisive) , very difficult wan.

    I have not watched the Crazy Horse show. Too expensive. I watched Neptune Topless dance a few times, subsidised grassroots activities! hahaha….. I have not been to any show at the Esplanade. Tickets expensive also. I’m a chor law lang(crude person) don’t know how to appreciate. Esplanade white elephant, right?

    That’s where most of our taxes go lah. oops….. wander too far liao.

    My conclusion : IRs probably will die too.

    ps – oh, Walter you are not the stero-typed cs, so be happy I friend you.

  3. Hey. I think lam chun see is so right. You can’t please everyone and when you try, you please no one. Sigh. I think bringing in the crazy horse was a good idea implemented wrongly. sad.

  4. well said, coolinsider, i couldnt agree more on ur view of why the horse crippled.

    Arr.. i hv not been to Crocodile Farm yet. Hee.. i wonder will it still be there when i get back to SG.

    Sidenotes to EastCoastLife aka CLL: LOL. i tink u muz be a joker in real life.I juz cant stop lafing even when i read ur comment.

  5. eastcoastlife, thanks for your witty comments and incisive insights. I believe that the key reasons why the horses couldn’t gallop here are not so much the legislative restrictions than a poor market fit. Also, it could have been better if they have studied how attractions have boomed or busted in the past.

    Having said that and being in the attractions business (family-friendly only lah) myself, I must say that it is often much easier said than done. Coming up with the magic formula is still a challenge.

    Thus far, I think Zoo, Night Safari, Bird Park and Science Centre have done relatively better than the others. However, museums are going to be a force to reckon with soon – mark my words!

  6. Chun See and ian timothy,

    Agree with you guys. Its often said that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Crazy Horse Paris is a classic example where execution went wrong from the word “go”

  7. geri,

    Ha ha ha.

    Zee Zee,

    Thanks for popping by! I may drive by Jurong one of these days to check out the crocs and try to smile at them. Maybe that will make them feel better?

  8. Hi Walter,

    I like what you wrote:

    “Jurong Crocodile Paradise could have also tied-up more aggressively with Jurong Bird Park or other western attractions (Singapore Discovery Centre, Singapore Science Centre etc) to provide value to customers. These packages may give more reasons for people to bring their families there for a day of fun.”

    This calls for JVs or “marketing by association”. How many times have I come across the suggestion to place pamphlets/brochures in your business associates’ shops. Unfortunately the Horse stands alone, even ignored by STB. Now that’s Crazy.

    best regards,
    Nelson Tan

  9. Blueheeler,

    Thanks for popping by. Are you who I think you are?


    Grateful for your inputs too. I think the sad thing is most businesses in Singapore don’t see the benefit of alliances. That is sometimes the cheapest and most effective way of gaining market share.

    Also, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What would make them come to you? How could you make it more convenient, interesting or valuable for them? If we can answer these questions, I think the road to business success would be smoother.

  10. I just have one useless comment to add, with Crazy Horse on the way out and all: Boy am I glad that we now have those male exotic dancers at Gotham Penthouse. Finally, something for the ladehz!

  11. Equal rights for all! Incidentally I was reading this book “EVEolution” by Faith Popcorn on marketing to women. Fascinating stuff. I think men better beware before we get outmoded by our better halves!

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