Advertising Standards Authority of SG unveils guidelines for promos during COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives across the world in an unprecedented manner, and the Singapore government has called for sustained collaboration among the public, industry and governments worldwide to bring the virus under control. With that comes changes in lifestyles, personal habits and the way businesses work, which all represent opportunities for marketers.

Hence, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) has issued a reminder to businesses to advertise responsibly and act ethically during COVID-19 pandemic and listed key points for advertisers to follow:

  • Put out messages that contribute positively to the Singapore government’s management of the crisis. 
  • Ensure that the terms and conditions of promotions are indicated in the advertisement in an upfront and transparent manner. 
  • Use only honest and truthful claims about products and services that are capable of robust substantiation. 
  • Avoid spreading misinformation that originates from sources that are not reliable. 
  • Check and comply with the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), the ASAS’s advisories and all relevant national legislation. 

In addition, members of the public are also encouraged to come forward and report any advertisements for products and services that appear to be misleading. 

Amid the Circuit Breaker measures implemented by the government, F&B outlets will only be able to do a takeaway and is not allowed to have dine-in options until 4 May 2020 while non-essential services will be impacted as everyone’s required to stay home at all times. As such, local consumer-facing businesses have been aggressively advertising various products that are intended for personal health and protection, promotions on food and beverage, and services that facilitate telecommuting and make physical isolation bearable, among others, during this trying period. 

According to the ASAS, a vast majority of businesses have been responsible advertisers however, a small number have unfortunately used the crisis to traffic in misinformation which were reported to the organisation in February and March 2020. 

“They claim that their products and services offer meaningful protection against viruses or ‘the virus’ during this period, based on weak evidence or misinterpreted research. Such tactics may give anxious consumers a false sense of security, bait the consumer into making purchases out of fear and undermine efforts to contain the spread of the disease,” the organisation said in a statement.

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The ASAS recently said it will be introducing a new guideline in light of the topic around racism in ads. This was announced shortly after the e-pay ad by NETS caused a stir among Singaporeans and pulled race and ethnicity issues in. According to a ST article then, the new recommendation will be incorporated into the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP) and complement an existing section on how advertisements should be non-discriminatory against any ethnic group or religion.