Havas issues 2nd apology in 4 days over 'brownface' ad

The issue has not died down.

Belmont Lay| August 02, 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.

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

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