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Impersonators and kimchi burgers: Businesses capitalize on the Trump-Kim summit

Singapore hits the jackpot for Trump-Kim summit
Singapore hits the jackpot for Trump-Kim summit

Businesses are getting a case of summit fever as Singapore gears up to host a historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Cash registers are ringing for some of them, too, as they take advantage of the hype around the summit, set to be held in the city-state on June 12.

Tech start-up Vybes hired Trump and Kim impersonators — American Dennis Alan and Australian-Chinese Howard X, respectively — for the weekend to promote its mobile app. At the event held in a downtown mall on Saturday, people were asked to download the app to pay for a selfie with one or both of them.

Hannes Santana, director of marketing at Vybes, said the company decided to bring the impersonators to Singapore because "Trump and Kim are the biggest influencers on the planet."

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump impersonator hug each other during a promotional event on June 9, 2018 in Singapore.
Toh Ting Wei | AFP | Getty Images

He said "thousands" of users downloaded the app on Saturday. More than 500 selfies were sold through the app in roughly three hours.

There has been a wide array of summit-themed offerings and marketing campaigns capitalizing on the historic meeting.

For one, cannabis cryptocurrency company PotCoin sponsored basketball star Dennis Rodman to be in Singapore for the summit.

Dennis Rodman tweet: Thanks to my loyal sponsors from @potcoin and my team at @Prince_Mrketing , I will be flying to Singapore for the historical Summit. I'll give whatever support is needed to my friends, @realDonaldTrump and Marshall Kim Jong Un.

Rodman has made several visits to North Korea, and said in a recent tweet that he will give "whatever support is needed" to Trump and Kim.

Meanwhile, global fast food chain KFC renamed a fried chicken box to a "Four Peace Meal" on its Singapore-oriented Facebook page, and Singapore-based Mexican restaurant Lucha Loco made special tacos named "El Trumpo" and "Rocket Man." That latter dish is a reference to what Trump once called his North Korean counterpart.

Will Leonard, group general manager of the Loco Group, said the restaurant had sold out of the $7.50 (S$10) tacos every night since they launched on Monday.

A Mexican restaurant in Singapore created the El Trumpo and Rocket Man tacos for the Trump-Kim summit.
Ore Huiying | Getty Images

Zach Wen, the owner of Singapore's OSG Bar + Kitchen, came up with a Korean and American twist on the traditional Singaporean dish of nasi lemak, a dish of coconut rice and chili sauce. He insisted that his dish — which he dubbed Harmony Nasi Lemak — is not a gimmick and will be on his menu permanently.

"Harmony is a daily effort," he said.

Wen added that more people have been taking photographs rather than buying the $16 (S$21) dish.

"Maybe I don't make much, but that doesn't matter," he said. "We want to spread harmony, so we don't want to be seen as ripping off this summit commercially.

A man looks at a promotional poster outside a local eatery, Harmony Nasi Lemak, which offers a special Trump Kim-Chi dish to its menu on June 6, 2018 in Singapore.
Getty Images

He even paid tribute to the U.S. leader's trade posturing, saying that the dish used U.S. beef "to make Mr. Trump happy."

As for the hospitality industry, hotels are cashing in on the influx of visitors for the summit.

The Royal Plaza on Scotts, a hotel in the heart of Singapore's shopping district, has seen about a 20 percent increase in bookings since the summit was first announced in April. Patrick Fiat, general manager of the hotel, said he was expecting more bookings to come in over the weekend and that the occupancy rate should be in "the high 90s."

That hotel is about a 15 minute walk to the Shangri-La, where Trump is expected to stay, and it's only a 10 minute walk to the St. Regis, where Kim is reportedly staying.

To commemorate the event, the Royal Plaza created a special kimchi burger, which will only be sold for one week. The dish was only launched on Friday, but Fiat said the burger has increased traffic at the restaurant by 20 percent.

The Trump Kim burger, in Singapore June 7, 2018.
Edgar Su | Reuters

The general manager said he expects to sell 500 burgers by the end of the week, adding that the hotel it will give away bite-sized versions of the burger on June 12 to "share the excitement of the summit."

Singapore businesses may seem like they are profiting from the event, but Singapore as a whole may be paying a price for the prestige of hosting the event.

In fact, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told local media on Sunday that the Trump-Kim meeting will cost about $20 million Singaporean dollars (nearly $15 million) to host.