ASAS to add new guideline on potential sensitivities in ads involving race and ethnicity

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) is working on a new guideline that will highlight “potential sensitivities” to marketers if race and ethnicity are involved in their ad campaigns, according to ST. This comes after the E-Pay ad by NETS caused a stir among Singaporeans recently.

The recommendation, which will be incorporated into the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), will complement an existing section on how advertisements should be non-discriminatory against any ethnic group or religion. Marketing has reached out to ASAS for its comments.

It is currently still being finalised and will likely be rolled out when the SCAP review is completed later this year. The last major revision to SCAP, according to the report, was in 2008. The review looks to incorporate guidelines on digital advertising, while adopting best practices from international guidelines found in the International Chamber of Commerce’s Advertising and Marketing Communications Code, which was revised in September 2018.

Meanwhile, the Nair siblings (influencer who goes by Preetipls and her brother Subhas Nair) have issued a second apology for a rap video on the “brownface ad”. This comes after the first apology was called out by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for being “insincere”, “a spoof of an earlier apology issued by Havas Worldwide” and one that “shows contempt for the many Singaporeans who have expressed concern at their blatantly racist rap video”.

In a joint statement, the siblings apologised for the “tone, aggression, vulgarities and gestures” used in the video and said it was “born from a place of frustration and pain” that there is not enough safeguards for minorities in terms of how they are portrayed in the national media. The Facebook post has garnered 1,700 likes and over 430 shares within two days. They also said that if they could do it again, they would change the manner in which they approached the issue and “worded out thoughts better”.

They added: “We must, as a nation, have space for people to express themselves; however, at the same time, it is our responsibility as artists, to carry that message in a way that honours the issue and does not hurt people. We want to continue to participate in the ongoing national discussion, but to do so responsibly. It has been a difficult time, but a silver lining is that brownface will probably never happen again in Singapore.”

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Read the earlier apology below:

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The incident started last week with an advertisement by e-payment company E-Pay which featured Mediacorp actor and DJ Dennis Chew impersonating different races – with darkened skin tones. Chew, who is known for cross-dressing and Channel 8 character Auntie Lucy, was seen dressing as a Malay woman in a head scarf and an Indian man with darkened skin. He also played the role of a Chinese woman in the same ad.