Both Singtel and Gushcloud have accepted responsibility for the recent online smear campaign controversy against telcos M1 and StarHub.
In an email statement sent out in the evening of March 17, 2015, Johan Buse, VP of Consumer Marketing, Singtel said:
“We refer to our digital youth campaign in June 2014 with Gushcloud. We would like to clarify that this was a niche campaign targeted at a narrow customer segment.
Further investigations have revealed that our staff who worked with Gushcloud on the marketing campaign in June last year did not adhere to Singtel’s marketing standards.
As an organisation, we maintain high marketing standards and do not condone negative campaigns or publicity against any individuals or organisations. Our focus has always been on the strength and differentiators of our products and services.
We apologise for this isolated incident. We will emphasise to our staff and agencies our marketing standards and the importance of adhering to industry guidelines including the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice.”
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) reminded operators yesterday that they should abide by the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice when conducting marketing activities.
But this may not just be about adhering to the code of advertising practice.
Under Section 8.4.1 of the Telecom Competition Code, a “Licensee must not engage in unfair methods of competition”. Singtel’s Gushcloud advertorials may fall under this provision.
This concession of wrongdoing by Singtel has taken the heat off blogger advertising network Gushcloud for now.
In response to Mothership.sg's request for comment, Vincent Ha, Gushcloud CEO, said:
In June 2014, Gushcloud was engaged by Singtel to run a campaign for the Youth Plan promotion using influencers.
The campaign’s intention was to leverage on our influencers to promote the benefits of the plan. In preparing the brief to our influencers, we had discussions with the client’s project team. But as an influencer marketing company, we should known better and made better recommendations to our client.
Because of that, we have let our influencers and our client down with the way the campaign turned out and we are sorry.
It goes against the management’s belief to use the Internet for spreading negative messages about anybody or organisation. We stand for a better and safer Internet, because that is the environment we want our children to grow up in. But it was also my responsibility to ensure that a clear code of conduct and the necessary guidelines were put in place for my staff. The fallout from this episode that my team and our influencers went through was unpleasant to say the least and I would like to apologise to them.
That being said, we do not condone the actions of Ms Wendy Cheng, because we feel it has done far more harm than good to our industry.
We remain open to work together with any party including Nuffnang and other industry members to make this industry better through self-regulation and having proper channels for recourse.
The influencer marketing industry is a house we all live in. If something is broken, let us fix it together.
Moving forward, my team and I are committed to doing better for everyone.
1. We have initiated talks with various industry partners including regulatory bodies and established companies to create proper guidelines for the influencer marketing industry.
2. We are implementing and educating the Gushcloud team and our influencers on a clear code of conduct and recommended practices.
3. We have started an internal audit of our business and taken stock on the areas that we are lacking.
4. We want to better care for our influencers. We not only want to educate them on what they should or should not do, but also nurture a positive personal brand for each of them.
5. Transparency in the business is important and I hope that the platform we will be rolling out in a few months will making the influencer marketing industry more transparent and productive for all.
Thank you for giving us a chance to do better.