E-Pay ad didn't breach code of practice but is 'in poor taste'

No guidelines breached.

Belmont Lay| August 01, 07:22 PM

The "brownface" E-Pay advertisement featuring a Chinese man portraying people from other races did not breach any advertising code of practice, Singapore’s advertising authority said on Thursday, Aug. 1

The e-payment advertisement was, however, “in poor taste”.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) said it had assessed the E-Pay advertisement based on the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP)’s general principle on social values.

11-year-old guidelines

The current edition of the 65-page SCAP is from 2008.

The SCAP dictates that advertisements should be handled sensitively to minimise misinterpretation of intentions on ethnic issues.

It should also not jeopardise inter-ethnic understanding or discriminate against any ethnic group or religion, or downplay the importance of mutual dependence amongst all groups.

Did not put down any ethnic group

Professor Ang Peng Hwa, chairman of the ASAS, an advisory council to the Consumers Association of Singapore, felt the advertisement was not done “with harm in mind or to deliberately put down any ethnic groups”.

He added that they received two feedback about the matter.

Ang said that the council has taken note of the explanation by Havas, the creative agency behind the advertisement.

The council found that the SCAP was not breached.

“We also note that the advertisement has been removed and that Havas has issued a public apology, as the advertisement has ceased, no further action is currently required,” he added.

Ang said the SCAP is being reviewed to bring it in line with international best marketing practices and the codes of practice of other jurisdictions.

A police report has been made against the ad.

Take-down notices have also been issued to individuals who re-published the video on social media.