It is an age-old communications tactic - burying bad news on a day when everyone is distracted.
This was exactly what a Labour party press officer in the United Kingdom tried to do on Sep.11, 2001:
"It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors' expenses?" The Daily Telegraph
And the consequences? She had to apologise before the cameras when her e-mail was leaked. There was no hara-kiri but she resigned within 6 months.
So nice try, Gushcloud.
Context: In this latest piece by blogger Xiaxue to highlight unethical blogging practices by blogging advertising network Gushcloud, she revealed that Gushcloud provided instructions to their stable of bloggers to slime telcos M1 and StarHub as part of their blogging services to promote Singtel’s new mobile plan for youths.
As Gushcloud's Facebook post is too vague, we have fortunately gotten a Singtel spokesperson to provide a more comprehensive explanation to this controversy:
"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."
In other words, Singtel has provided a strongly-worded and firm statement about its own code of ethics.
They do not engage in unethical advertising practices, such as running "negative campaigns against any individual or organization". Singtel also said that it did not issue the brief.
Which brings us back to Gushcloud.
Gushcloud explained that its brief was "an internal brief" that "is not meant to be read in isolation without the full context and verbal briefings given by Gushcloud".
Below are a few burning questions left unanswered by Gushcloud's brief FB post about its brief:
1. Did the Gushcloud bloggers mislead their readers about the poor phone reception and the poor Internet connection by M1 and Starhub?
2. Will Gushcloud provide the public with the full context of what actually happened?
3. Even without appreciating the full context, it is difficult for any normal Singaporeans to imagine a situation when it is okay to smear individuals and companies. Do explain such a unique situation for us.
Anyway, the government is not going to announce another public holiday anytime soon.
And Singaporeans are good multi-taskers - they can celebrate the extra holiday and listen to Gushcloud's full explanation at the same time.