Mediacorp actresses Zoe Tay (pictured right) and Aileen Tan (pictured left) have spoken out against a skincare brand Auralei Anti-Aging Cream for fabricating content that said Tay and Tan endorsed their products. According to Channel NewsAsia, one of the articles claimed that Tay appeared on American health show Dr. Oz and stated that Tay faced pressure to have cosmetic surgery done in a bid to keep and improve her looks.
A quick check by Marketing found that the fabricated articles have since been removed. In a statement to Marketing, Mediacorp’s The Celebrity Agency, said both actresses do not endorse the product, nor have they provided any interviews relating to it.
“Tay and Tan are considering further recourse,” the agency added. Tay and Tan were not the only celebrities to have fallen prey to their images being used unwittingly. Recently, billionaire Peter Lim’s name and image was also used for online scams, while AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandez also publicly denied endorsing get-rich-quick schemes that claimed he revealed his secret to earning as much as RM300 a day from home.
Malaysian pop star Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin was also under the spotlight after a trader misused her and her husband’s photos, to promote sexual stimulant pills online.
Speaking to Marketing on how celebrities can safeguard their brand image, Joe Escobedo, director of content marketing at Happy Marketer said the first step to protecting one’s personal brand is awareness. Whether the person is a celebrity or not, they should set up a Google Alert or Talkwalker Alert for their name, in order to receive notifications whenever their name is mentioned online, either in the media, blogs or forums.
Next, he advised individuals to write to the specific media or blogger and clarify any falsified information, adding that most of the time, the websites are willing to make clarifications if the original information was inaccurate.
“Remember, the only way you can protect your brand is by being aware of what’s being said about it,” Escobedo said.
Also weighing in on the issue is Lars Voedisch, principal consultant and managing director of PRecious Communications, who said that while there is not much one can do preventively, one should still be alert and clarify if wrong claims like these occur – the quicker, the better.
While legal action is one possible way – more importantly you have to go out with a clear statement that you are not endorsing this brand.
“Doing this swiftly and clearly is absolutely crucial – for any kind of brand,” Voedisch said. He added that being witty when clarifying is one way to oppose such claims.
Echoing his sentiment is Ip Wai Yin, senior manager, GOLIN Singapore, who said there have been several occasions of celebrities responding to such stories with good humour to effectively control and turn the situation around. Ip added that reputation matters in the PR and communications industry and with social media, personalities are able to clarify and take control of a situation, if necessary.
Meanwhile, with the fake news crisis not waning anytime soon, the Singapore government has decided to take a stronger stance on the issue. In June, K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs & Minister for Law said that in the second half of 2017, the ministry will work towards consulting with stakeholders, the media, the legal profession, and the Internet companies to “see what the contours and shape of the legislation ought to be”.
The move followed the results of a poll commissioned by the government on fake news. When asked on what their views were on legislation to deal with fake news, 91% of Singaporeans surveyed supported stronger laws to ensure the removal or correction of fake news.
In April, Shanmugam also raised the red flag on the prevalence and impact of fake news in Singapore, pledging to tackle the issue. In his Parliamentary speech, Shanmugam named websites such as All Singapore Stuff and States Times Review as websites which perpetuate fake stories, raised the potential impact fake news has on national security, on top of ill-profiteering.