UPDATE: Axe Brand has since explained in a Facebook post today that the ad placement "was not intentional by [the] company but a very unfortunate coincidence". It added that the ad was arranged and booked last December with The Straits Times. "Our company is in deep sympathy and grief with the victim’s family," the brand said in a Facebook post. Singapore Press Holdings did not comment when approached by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
Axe Brand Universal Oil has found itself in a difficult situation after its ad was placed below an article on The Straits Times concerning the recent murder which took place at River Valley High School (RVHS). Both the article and the ad are on the front page of ST's print and digital editions dated 20 July. A secondary four student was arrested yesterday for the murder of a secondary one boy at RVHS and according to multiple media reports including ST, police seized an axe as evidence.
The ad reads: "A handy medicine for quick relief of cold and headache. To get you prepared for your next step."
Axe Brand Universal Oil is not the first brand to have landed an unfortunate placement on a publication. In February this year, BMW Singapore was in a difficult situation after one of its ads emerged on local content site Mothership, alongside an article detailing a horrific car crash along Tanjong Pagar which took the lives of five individuals over the Lunar New Year weekend.
The issue of problematic programmatic is not uncommon. Two years ago, after news of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash broke, Mediacorp made headlines for running ads of its digital entertainment service Toggle with the words "under our sky" and "there is a monster in all of us" alongside news coverage of the flight crash on Channel NewsAsia's digital platform. Meanwhile, ST also previously hosted ads from AirAsia promoting "free seats" alongside a news article on the plane crash.
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