Sunday 9 October 2016

Ode to free Milo peng: Nathan Hartono's tiny joke 'took on a life of its own'

Who is Nathan Hartono?
Asked a girl queueing for free iced Milo
To deal with such fools
There should be rules
If you have never heard of the man
You should not be allowed near the Milo van
He’s the reason you’re getting free Milo peng
Girl, on Friday outside Plaza Sing

Hartono is the first Singaporean
To make it to the final of the Sing! China competition
Which used to be called The Voice Of China
Is it related to The Voice in America?
Yes, it’s the Chinese version of the US show
Based on the original from Holland, don’t you know
Which brings a whole new meaning to going Dutch
It’s not just the lady on the milk products we drink so much
Because of disputes with the franchise owner
The Voice Of China was rebranded as Sing! China

In a Straits Times interview, he told his fans:
“If I win, I will rent a fleet of Milo vans
And treat everybody to Milo peng”
Although the singer later said he was kidding
Milo Singapore saw the marketing opportunity
And took advantage of his flippancy

The Nestle company posted on Facebook last Saturday:
“Nathan, win or lose, Milo will support you all the way!
No need to rent, also can
Just tell us where, we bring the van
Fellow Singaporeans,
Any suggestions
On the location?”
This is such blatant self-promotion
Not that anyone is complaining
As long as we get free Milo peng

Why couldn’t Hartono have said
That he would treat everybody to chilli crab instead
Then he could have even more new fans
Alas, where does one rent a fleet of chilli crab vans?

He was amused by how his quip grew:
“I made one tiny joke about a Milo van during an interview
Hahahahahaha… thanks Internet”
But free Milo peng isn’t the only treat we get

To celebrate the singer’s “awesome achievement”
Tung Lok Group released a Facebook statement
You get free Liu Sha Bao (or salted egg yolk custard buns)
Today at selected Tung Lok restaurants
Yesterday, it was free spinach tofu
They’re both Hartono’s favourite food
Tomorrow, a 25 per cent discount you can grab
At various Tung Lok restaurants including Dancing Crab

How does Tung Lok know what he likes to eat?
Because his mother is a senior VP at the company
His uncle is executive chairman too
And his grandfather the founder of Tung Lok Group
Imagine, if on Friday night, Hartono had won
Would Tung Lok be giving free crab to everyone?

One assumes he has no relatives working at Milo
He explained on Facebook two days ago:
“A lot of people have been asking me
If this is some kind of brand deal/sponsorship
It really isn’t. I haven’t even been in contact with Nestle
Because of the crazy schedule here in China
It started off as a joke
And it kinda just took on a life of its own
Because Internet
But hey, if it means people all over town today get
Free Milo, then I’m happy. Seeing that big green bus
Always brightened my day back in school
So glad we could recreate some of that nostalgia
Enjoy guys. Sending love from Beijing”

We got free McNuggets when Joseph Schooling came in first
Though Hartono came in second, he has already quenched our thirst
Should he also get a victory parade on Orchard Road for all to see?
Then maybe the girl in the queue wouldn't ask “Who’s he?”

- Published in The New Paper, 9 October 2016