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Shaw Empire, 1960s

By 1965, Shaw Brothers Limited had 35 companies under its umbrella. The company owned outright 130 cinemas throughout South East Asia including Singapore and Malaysia, 9 amusement parks, 3 production studios - in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

It was during the 1960s that another two members of the second generation joined the family business - Mr Harold Shaw, son of Sir Run Run and Mr Shaw Vee King, son of Tan Sri Runme. They were shuttled between Singapore and Hong Kong to be involved in all aspects of the film business. Both Harold and Vee King also began actively participating in international film festivals to acquire products to feed the growing Shaw circuit.

Shaw Chambers, 116 Robinson Road, Singapore

Billboard truck, Singapore, 1961

Publicity procession, Singapore, 1950s
Shaw Marketing & Publicity Department

Since the silent era, Shaw has been marketing films. One of the oldest methods was through poster displays. In the early years, the Shaw brothers used to bicycle around various towns with brushes and buckets of starch to put up posters. In many instances, they had to compete for the best poster space as early birds would get the choicest locations. One of their chief competitors in this regard was Tiger Balm king, Aw Boon Haw. Aw was one of most effective marketing campaigners in his day, having promoted his balm with its mundane medicinal properties into almost mythical proportions.

By 1950, advertising campaigns became more sophisticated and imaginative. Promotional materials sent from major studios had to be adapted to local conditions in Singapore and Malaysia. Having to work on a tight budget, Shaws marketing team had to be creative at the least expense. For the Federation Theatres, promotional materials were usually recycled from a film's Singapore release. It was up to the publicity managers of the various managment offices in Malaysia to come up with creative ways to utilise such materials and hype up a film. Marketing a film in Malaysia was not as sophisticated as in Singapore, but they were done along similar lines.

Billboard Trishaws, early 1960s

Judo demonstration at Capitol, Singapore 1965

Female impersonation contest for 'World By Night', Lido, Kota Bahru, Malaysia 1962

'Run of the Arrow' at Capitol, KL, Malaysia,1958

Fortune Teller for 'Dr Terror's House of Horror', Capitol, Singapore 1965

In Singapore, the Shaw marketing and publicity team in the early 1950s was headed by Mr James Lawler. He resigned in 1956, leaving the post to Mr Ashley Cooper, previously the theatre supervisor. For various promotions, the marketing team directed the art department which was headed by Mr James Wong. He was later replaced by Mr Jimmy Liang who ran the department into the 1970s. By September 1958, Mr Bill Goodwyn became head of the marketing and publicity department which included Mr C Y Chen.


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