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Category winner: Kobe Influencer Marketing:
Building Brand Awareness via Social Media

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This case won the Outstanding Case Writer Competition category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2021. #CaseAwards2021

In conversation with... Patricia Lui and Lipika Bhattacharya

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we were sadly unable to visit Patricia and Lipika to present their awards in person.

However, they joined our Director, Richard McCracken, from Singapore to discuss their winning case.

The full conversation can be watched on the right, or each section can be viewed separately below:

The case

Evangeline Leong and Cha Lin The protagonists

Evangeline Leong and Cha Lin are the co-founders of Kobe, a start-up which specialises in influencer marketing for small and medium enterprise (SME) businesses.


Kobe is a leading social media marketing company in Singapore with a patented AI-driven advertising platform that pairs advertisers with relevant everyday influencers. It has more than 5,000 influencers on its platform, with an outreach of over 45 million followers and over one million engagements.


Kobe’s new client, Jia Jia, is looking for an innovative promotional strategy for their brand of herbal teas. Although herbal tea is popular in Singapore, younger customers tend to prefer bubble tea so Leong and Cha are tasked with making Jia Jia herbal tea the new trend in Singapore. 

Singapore skylineWhere?

Kobe is a Singapore-based start-up and is well placed there due to its large influencer base. Over the past few years, the company has expanded its business to Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and China.


The case is set in May 2019, three years after Kobe was founded in 2016.

Key quote

“Some clients ask what volume of products I can sell through this campaign. We have to manage our client’s expectations and explain the objectives - influencer campaigns are meant for building conversations with customers; so the focus is on engagements rather than sales. If the influencer content is too sales oriented, storytelling will be lost in the process. Eventually, followers would stop following.- Evangeline Leong, Kobe.

What next?

Jia Jia herbal teaLeong and Cha need to consider the social media platforms and influencers chosen for the campaign carefully. They also need to ask if their dependency on the Singapore market is limiting their client base and choice of influencers. They need to get Jia Jia trending amongst millennials in Singapore but, also, ask themselves how they expand their offering looking forward. 

Judges viewpoint

This competition was judged by Caren Scheepers, Gordon Institute of Business Science; Naman Desai, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad; Richard McCracken, The Case Centre; and Tao Yue, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

Competition judges

“Excellent to see a winning case with dynamic and active female protagonists.”

“A winning combination. A well written and engaging case giving valuable insight into the world of brand influencers - an innovative and growing sector.”

The authors


Patricia Lui and Lipika Bhattacharya

This is the first award for Patricia and Lipika, while Singapore Management University have previously won two awards in 2010 and 2018.

Truly honoured and delighted

The authors said: “We are truly honoured and delighted to have won this award from The Case Centre for the first time.

“Winning this competition means that the judges recognised the area of business issues we wrote about. It encourages us to continue working on unique business stories and topics and helps stimulate our interest in exploring the case writing method to engage students better.” 

Winning combination

They continued: “There are a few reasons why this case was popular. Firstly, the case tells a story of something that interests people. Influencer marketing and social media are relevant to readers. Secondly, the narrative talks about an entrepreneur’s journey and their motivations stemming from the age-old notion of human influence and word of mouth. Thirdly, the case tries to tie back new business strategies with societal traditions creating ‘aha’ moments that foster deliberation. Fourthly, despite being Southeast Asia centric, the case talks about discussion points that are global in context.”

Person at laptop seeing social media likesCollaborator challenges

The authors reflected: “Most brands use an agency to plan and implement their digital marketing campaigns. We wanted to write the influencer marketing case with inputs from both the agency and the brand. It was challenging to get both an agency and a brand to allow us to write about their campaign. We were thankful that Evangeline Leong, the founder and CEO of Kobe, supported us with detailed information, enabling us to weave together our subject knowledge with the case situation and problems. We managed to look into how the strategy was developed from an agency’s perspective, which is not a common approach in business case writing.”

No case is an island

The authors explained: “No case is an island; no topic discussed in a case is hugely significant by itself. Staying true to the company's experiences and translating those experiences to the business context without being obsessed with a pre-determined set of learning objectives, allows authors to focus on the big picture.”

Case writing tips

The authors commented: “A good case needs to tell a story that most readers want to finish reading. The primary focus is to take note of what interests the readers.

“Also, good teamwork is an essential capability for effective case writing. Form a case writing team where members work well together and understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. Allocate tasks to the most appropriate case team members. We need to be open to new ideas and perspectives as these are the fundamental elements for a good case.”

About the authors

Patricia Lui is Lecturer of Marketing at Singapore Management University.
e patricialui@smu.edu.sg

Lipika Bhattacharya is a Senior Case Writer at Singapore Management University.
e lipikab@smu.edu.sg

Interested in finding out more?

Download the case and teaching note

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Kobe Influencer Marketing: Building Brand Awareness via Social Media
Ref SMU-19-0037

Teaching note
Ref SMU-19-0037TN


View all the 2021 winners