M1 requests Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore to look into Gushcloud bloggers' smear campaign

This looks like it is no longer a spat between bloggers anymore.

Martino Tan| March 16, 04:19 PM

Update [Mar.16, 1940Hrs]: IDA is aware of an online controversy surrounding the blogging advertising network Gushcloud’s marketing of Singtel’s Youth Plan. In the spirit of fair competition, IDA has always encouraged our licensees to focus on promoting the availability, price and quality of their own services or equipment, and refrain from negative campaigns against their competitors.  This will allow end users to make informed choices. Operators should abide by the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice when conducting marketing activities.  

Following allegations by blogger Xiaxue on March 14, 2015, that blogger advertising network Gushcloud had engaged in an incentivised smear campaign against M1 and StarHub as part of their social media services to Singtel, M1 has responded by requesting the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to investigate these claims before deciding on further action.

A M1 spokesperson, Chua Hian Hou, said:

“We are aware of online postings that a social media agency may have incentivised its bloggers to make false derogatory remarks about our products and services, in order to drive users to a competitive operator.

Such practices are unethical, and we intend to seek clarification with the relevant operator on this matter. We will also request IDA to look into this pursuant to the Telecom Competition Code, and will explore further action if necessary.”

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.

Another section to note is Section, which indicates that a Licensee (Singtel in this instance) must not provide information to other Licensees that is false or misleading. In other words, Singtel's clarifications to its competitors will fall under this provision.

A Singtel spokesperson had clarified in a statement on March 15, explaining they did not issue the brief to incentivise the smearing of their competitors' services and products:

“Singtel wishes to clarify that it did not issue the brief.

Singtel uses different digital agencies for its campaigns. GushCloud was one of the agencies we had used in June 2014.

It is Singtel’s policy to focus on the strengths and differentiators when marketing our products and services. It is not our practice to run negative campaigns against any individual or organization. This is not the way we manage our marketing promotions. We will remind our agencies to strictly adhere to this policy when running campaigns for Singtel.”

According to the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice, the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, Cap 52A (2nd Schedule, No. 14) stated that "making representations in an objective form without stating that it is an advertisement is specified as an unfair practice".

We are contacting StarHub, Singtel and IDA for comments and will update this post with any developments.


Related articles:

Xiaxue’s exposé Part 2: Gushcloud asked bloggers to smear M1, StarHub to promote SingTel

Xiaxue’s exposé Part 2: Leaked phone conversation reveals Gushcloud co-founder has no qualms inflating advertising figures

Xiaxue’s exposé Part 2: Singtel clarifies that it didn’t issue the brief to smear its competitors

Xiaxue’s exposé Part 2: Website co-owned by Gushcloud questions Xiaxue’s motives for her exposé, downplays saga