SINGAPORE - You have to hand it to local lifestyle blogger Sara Shantelle Lim for being one smart cookie.
She approached several businesses to sponsor her 27th birthday bash and promised to generate publicity in her blog for them in return.
But her luxury lifestyle blog, which she started with her sister last January, has received a total of only 340,000 views to date.
Popular local blogger Xiaxue claims to get 40,000 views daily.
And a check of Miss Lim's Instagram profile shows that she has only 610 followers. Most popular local bloggers have more than 20,000 followers on Instagram.
Still, she did not let her relative obscurity stop her from generating a whopping $40,000 worth of sponsorship for her birthday party tonight.
On Sunday, Miss Lim put out a press release about her "Candylicious Neon Birthday Bash 2014" on Sunday, naming her sponsors and listing the freebies she's getting.
She even explained how she managed to get so many sponsors - "mainly her close friends, who wants (sic) to throw Sara an amazing birthday party" while others believe that she can "help them to promote their brand well on her luxury blog" and "tap into her strong network of contacts".
In the press release, she called sponsor Kim Lim, a "good friend".
She went on to describe Miss Kim Lim as "the daughter of billionaire Peter Lim, who is known to have recently bought over Valencia Football Club".
Miss Kim Lim, who is sponsoring $1,500 worth of beer for the party, told TNP yesterday that she and Miss Lim are "not good friends, only acquaintances".
She added that Miss Lim had amended her press release to remove the reference to her father.
On Tuesday, The New Paper carried details of Miss Lim's sponsored birthday party on our website, tnp.sg.
The post went viral overnight and has since received more than 16,000 shares.
Call us suckers for giving Miss Lim the publicity she was obviously craving, but how to resist a story in which a little-known blogger sweet-talks so many people into sponsoring her birthday celebration?
Miss Lim's extravagant bash did not sit well with many netizens, who called her a "freeloader" and slammed her for "showing off".
Several said the birthday party "is a waste of money and resources".
One netizen commented that "she doesn't know the value of money", while another said she was "shameless".
Many of them advised Miss Lim to donate the money to charity or use it to help the poor and needy instead.
Netizen Azian Jebat wrote on The New Paper's Facebook page: "So good life... If she were to donate some of the money, her life will be more blessed."
Yesterday, Miss Lim responded to her detractors in a blog post.
She wrote: "I know that some of you have said that I should have donated this $40,000 to charity. I would love to if I could, trust me on that, but do kindly hear me out. "This $40,000 of birthday sponsors are sponsorships in value, not $40,000 in cold hard cash."
She added: "Since we are at (sic) this charitable topic, I would like to take this opportunity to let you all know that I have always believed in giving back to society, and I have always love (sic) children. My company has always been taking part in donating to Singapore Children's Society."
Miss Lim told TNP: "I don't blame the netizens for asking why I am throwing this kind of birthday party as they don't know what is going on.
"This is the most luxurious birthday party I've thrown so far. I see it as a win-win situation in which I can help my sponsors publicise and market their products in exchange for the sponsorship."
Mr Choo Yew Meng, business development manager of 1-Altitude, which is sponsoring the party venue at Altimate, told TNP that their new nightclub had just opened three weeks ago.
He said Miss Lim had asked for sponsorship a few months ago, offering the club publicity in return.
"This is the first birthday bash we are sponsoring, and we think it's a good trial run for us," he said.
Mr Choo, 45, added: "We can take many photos during the party and use them in our portfolio in the future.
"She can (also) bring in the beautiful party crowd, so it's a win-win situation."
Owner of Delcie's Desserts and Cakes Delcie Lam agreed to the sponsorship, believing it would be "good exposure".
"(Miss Lim) was also very specific in telling us why she came to us for the sponsorship, and it was in line with our mission of promoting healthier cakes," Miss Lam said. In her press release, Miss Lim described herself as a luxurious lifestyle blogger.
She was an air stewardess, but quit to set up her own business.
Miss Lim says that she is now an entrepreneur who runs seven businesses, including her own skincare line.
But many netizens had not heard of her and were curious why the companies were willing to sponsor her.
One of them, Tan Tui Ngee, commented on TNP's Facebook page: "Why sponsor her? She's just an attention seeker!"
But some netizens stood by her, with one writing: "Don't have to feel sore and condemn her for it. At least she's smart enough to get others to sponsor her instead of using her own money..."
Which is why, despite all the criticism, Miss Lim will probably be laughing all the way to her bash.
Socialite: This is unnecessary drama
Blogger Sara Shantelle Lim called socialite Kim Lim her "good friend" in her press release.
However, Miss Kim Lim, the daughter of billionaire tycoon Peter Lim, clarified that she and Lim "are not close".
She said: "I was a little pissed off and upset that both my father and I were name-dropped in the press release. Now I am dragged into this saga when I didn't even want to be involved."
Miss Kim Lim added that she had got to know Miss Lim through a mutual friend a few months ago.
Miss Lim then invited Miss Kim Lim for a sponsored eyebrow embroidery session at her beauty salon.
"Sara then asked me if I wanted to sponsor her birthday bash and I told her I'd think about it."
Miss Kim Lim eventually decided on sponsoring a barrel of beer in return for the eyebrow embroidery.
"To me, it was like a business transaction," she said.
Miss Kim Lim is not attending Miss Lim's birthday bash as she is flying off to Europe for a business meeting.
She said: "But even if I am in Singapore, I would have just turned up, wished her happy birthday and left. I wouldn't have stayed long as we are not close.
"Initially, I was even thinking of pulling out the beer sponsorship as I felt that this whole issue had given me a lot of unnecessary drama.
"I just want to clarify that I am not the one throwing the expensive birthday bash, nor am I her good friend."
This article was first published on May 30, 2014.
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