S'pore advertising code of practice to be updated with race guidelines by 2019 after 'brownface' hoo-ha

The ad guideline was last updated in 2008.

Kayla Wong | August 05, 2019, 06:42 PM

There will soon be a new advertising guideline for marketers to follow when it comes to "potential sensitivities" involving race and ethnicity in Singapore.

New guideline to help marketers navigate ethnic sensitivities

Ang Peng Hwa, chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) told The Sunday Times that the guideline will be included in the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP).

ASAS is now in the midst of finalising the guideline, which marketers can follow to avoid making discriminatory ads against any ethnic group or religion.

It is expected to be rolled out when the SCAP review is completed in the later half of this year.

All advertisements published in Singapore must adhere to SCAP, which is administered by ASAS.

The SCAP was last updated more than 10 years ago in 2008.

Controversy over "brownface" ad

This update comes in the wake of a controversy stirred by a rap video released by siblings Preeti and Subhas Nair, which called out a Nets E-Pay ad for its "brownface" depiction.

In the ad, Mediacorp artiste Dennis Chew's skin was darkened to depict four different characters, two of which were an Indian man and a Malay woman.

However, ASAS has deemed the ad as not having breached any advertising code of practice, despite it being "in poor taste".

Nets, Havas Worldwide (the creative agency which came up with the campaign), and Mediacorp's celebrity management arm The Celebrity Agency have since apologised for the ad.

In addition, Havas Worldwide issued a second apology four days after its initial statement.

The Nair siblings have since taken down their video, and issued two separate apologies, after the first was criticised by the Ministry of Home Affairs as being "insincere".

Top image adapted via E-Pay & Dennis Chew's Instagram