Is this Subway ad fresh? You decide

CONTROVERSIAL: A recent Subway Singapore ad has drawn mixed reactions for featuring a character called Rose Wah Chin Swee, who speaks with an over-the-top Singaporean accent.
Is this Subway ad fresh? You decide

INSPIRATION? Rose bears an uncanny resemblance to TV character Barbarella, played by actress-director Michelle Chong.


    Aug 22, 2013

    Is this Subway ad fresh? You decide

    IS IT funny or tasteless?

    A Subway Singapore commercial has drawn flak from advertising gurus and some viewers for its female character, who uses an exaggerated Singaporean accent to promote a new $5 meal combo.

    But others have posted online that they love the character, who calls herself Rose Wah Chin Swee.

    Mr Hari Ramanathan, 41, regional strategy director at Young & Rubicam Group Asia, said the commercial utilises "lazy humour", where "Singlish is simply used in the hope that it will be funny".

    He said: "Exaggerated 'Ah Lian-ness' is not funny. An advertising company has to understand what motivates and drives Singaporeans, and create smart humour."

    Mr Ramanathan pointed to Singaporean director Jack Neo's works as an example of good Singapore-based humour.

    His sentiment was shared by Mr Ronald Ng, chief creative officer of the Singapore branch of advertising agency BBDO, who labelled the ad "rancid".

    He said: "Was the bad humour intentional, or was it an attempt at cheesiness?

    "Either way, I'm worried that someone thought up these ideas, someone else approved them, and another signed a cheque to make them."

    The 38-second ad, which was aired on TV, features the character flipping her hair while making continual references to the sandwich chain's slogan, "Eat Fresh".

    Since it was uploaded on video-streaming site YouTube on Aug 1, the video has garnered over 75,000 views.

    In response to My Paper's inquiries, Subway Singapore said yesterday it has noted that its ad has turned a few heads.

    A company spokesman said: "We're always looking for new ways to entertain our customers.

    "Singaporeans, like many people, enjoy a little humour, and we think this ad is a bit of fun."

    My Paper understands that the ad was produced by advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

    Netizens have also noted an uncanny resemblance between Rose and popular TV character Barbarella, played by actress-director Michelle Chong.

    In response to My Paper's inquiries, Chong said via e-mail that she has received tweets and Facebook messages from fans about the ad.

    She said: "There are some similarities, such as the colloquial accent and the use of humour through Singaporean speech patterns.

    "But the difference is that there is no one specific characteristic that people can go: 'Oh my friend sounds exactly like that.'

    "I think for comedy to be good, the characters have to be realistic, yet original at the same time."

    Flak aside,the ad does have its fans.

    Netizen Rion Tng said that the ad was "as Singapore(an) as you can get".

    Marketing-services coordinator Eunice Ngieng, 23, said: "There's a lot of relatable Singapore elements, no doubt."