Havas issues 2nd apology in 4 days over ‘brownface’ ad

The issue has not died down.

Belmont Lay | August 2, 2019 @ 03:14 am


Creative agency Havas Worldwide has issued another apology on Thursday, Aug. 1, the second in four days.

This was for the agency’s role in creating an E-Pay advertisement campaign for Nets, which featured a local Chinese actor and deejay Dennis Chew portraying different people of various ethnicity, including a woman in tudung and a man with visibly dark skin.

The advertisement is controversial as it makes use of “brownface”.

The agency said: “Havas Worldwide Singapore would like to apologise for any hurt caused by the recent campaign to communicate that e-payment is for everyone.”

“The message behind the campaign is that e-pay is for people across all age groups and demographics,” it added.

“Our multicultural society defines us as a nation, and we regret if anyone has been offended by the campaign.”

First apology

Havas and The Celebrity Agency, which is Mediacorp’s celebrity management arm, had issued a joint apology on Monday.

They both apologised for “any hurt that was unintentionally caused”.

The statement read: “The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone. For that reason, Dennis Chew, well-known for his ability to portray multiple characters in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of the campaign.”

Mediacorp also said it would put in place “more stringent safeguards… to prevent a repeat of such a mistake”.

NETS has also apologised.

Dennis Chew removes mentions of ad from social media

Chew’s Instagram initially featured him holding up a voucher with the four characters he portrayed.

In the video, he invited fans to attend an event to promote the E-Pay system.


It has since been removed from the social media platform.

Guidelines weren’t breached

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), Singapore’s advertising authority, said on Aug. 1 that the ad did not breach any advertising code of practice.

It was, however, “in poor taste”.

A police report has been lodged against the ad.

On Jul. 29, Preetipls, real name Preeti Nair, released a video addressing the recent “brownface” ad for E-pay.

Shanmugam: Preetipls’ video crossed a line, govt will not allow these types of videos

However, she had complied with the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s notice to take down the video.

IMDA: Preetipls & Subhas complied with notice to take down offensive video

People who shared the video have also been asked to take it down by the IMDA.

CNA formally cuts Subhas Nair from National Day documentary after he shared about his involvement

About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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