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See where this ad is heading

CONTROVERSIAL AD: This Singapore Tourism Board video, chronicling a couple's trip here, went viral on Monday. It was panned all round by netizens, who called it "cringeworthy" and looked as if it was produced on a "$0 budget".


    Apr 09, 2014

    See where this ad is heading

    A TOURISM video marketing Singapore, which made many people cringe, was meant for the Philippine market, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said.

    But it also acknowledged that aspects of the video, titled Singapore, See Where The World Is Heading, "could have been done better".

    In a mea culpa, the board yesterday took down the three-minute clip, chronicling a couple's trip in Singapore, from its YouTube channel.

    Mr Oliver Chong, STB's executive director of communications and industry marketing, said the video - posted online last month - was removed "because it was not resonating well with audiences on YouTube".

    STB had partnered Philippine television network ABS-CBN to produce the video as part of a promotional campaign on Singapore, "in an effort to customise content for this (Filipino) audience", said Mr Chong.

    The promotional clip features the couple in Singapore's iconic attractions like Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

    It ends along the Singapore River, where the woman presents the man with a pregnancy test kit that indicates she is pregnant.

    The surprised man then says: "Singapore always had a surprise waiting for me."

    The video went viral on Monday after it was picked up by several sites and panned all round by netizens here, who called it "cringeworthy" and looked as if it was produced on a "$0 budget".

    Filipinos were not impressed either, reported The Straits Times. "I couldn't get past the 'Honey! Look!' The bad acting turned me off already," said travel writer and popular blogger Stella Arnaldo.

    A creative director with one of the biggest ad agencies in Manila, who declined to be named, said the video "takes you out from appreciating the tourism part". "Sans the dialogue and its poor audio dubbing, the visuals about Singapore lack the appeal to make one rush to buy a ticket for a vacation there," he said.

    Mr Chong said the video, which was posted on STB's Facebook page for the Philippines, attracted over 3,400 likes in the first week and garnered some 900 comments which were "largely positive".

    Dr Michael Chiam, a senior lecturer on tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said that while the video's content could have been better, netizens had overreacted. "In this case, I feel that it is just the loud minority who are fanning this controversy," he said.

    "If the video works for the Filipinos, then why not?

    "The video may be distasteful to us but we should give space for creativity that may not fit our norms, because the target market is not us."

    Ms Lily Lim, founder of BrandAngel Management Consulting, said organisations need to be careful when using social media. "It becomes public information once we click send. So we must be prepared for public comments - both likes and dislikes."