Singapore telco Circles.Life, which is known for its tongue-in-cheek campaigns, has copped some flak for its latest prank. This came after the telco put up an event titled “Wild Board Catching”, where it proceeded to encourage the public to join in catching wild boars in Singapore.
Although a seemingly harmless prank, the post caught the attention of Shawn Lum, president of Nature Society Singapore, who was unhappy at the activity posted. In a forum letter published on The Straits Times, Lum questioned the need to promote hunting of wildlife in a protected nature reserve as part of a marketing gimmick. “No one would possibly think of promoting, even as a joke, anything that is not only clearly illegal but also abhorrent,” he added. Lum added that by writing this letter, he is aware that he is buying into a marketing stunt. He also said that many Singaporeans would want to support companies which have values they admire or products or attitudes that resonate with them, seemingly taking a swipe at the telco.
“Respect for cultural diversity, gender equality, inclusiveness, and wildlife and the environment are just some of the things that are important for many Singapore consumers. We will spend hard-earned money on companies we can believe in and feel right supporting,” he said.
In response to the backlash, Circles.Life clarified that the Wild Boar Catching event was not an actual event it was planning to conduct. In a statement to Marketing, a spokesperson said the post was put out as a prank by its Discover Team, and was created with the intention to intrigue people as the telco ramped up efforts to raise awareness around its Discover Fun platform. "This was purely to raise awareness and not intended to cause any harm to Singapore’s wildlife," the spokesperson added.
Discover Fun is Circles.Life’s latest category that allows users to browse and book workshops. The category consists of five categories including Arts & Crafts, Culinary, Fitness, Beauty and Hobbies. According to the spokesperson, Circles.Life will continue to promote its Discover Fun platform through its social media and email marketing channels, as well as its partners. Recently, the telco came up with its own version of e-funpack. This saw it giving out at least 55 different promos for workshops, F&B deals from its Discover Food partners and discounts for its Laugh with Discover online comedy show.
Although the company did not expect any backlash from its prank, the spokesperson said it has since understood the concerns of the community and have taken steps to clarify the nature of the event. In addition, the telco has also helped promote local workshops and activities, which are aligned to what the government and STB are promoting.
Slated to happen on 22 August, the event claimed to be the “very first of its kind” in Singapore, and it will be a full-day hunting course surrounding Upper Seletar Reservoir to catch wild boars that are native to Singapore. It is added that there will be “highly experienced” hunting guides that will guide participants through the entire process- from prepping, to stalking, and hunting.
However, a week prior to the supposed event date, Circles.Life cancelled the event. In a Facebook post, the telco revealed that the Wild Boar Catching workshop was prank, and proceeded to talk about its official launch of Discover Fun platform. The post ended with a caption “We love wild boars and we’ll never do anything to hurt them!”
This is not the first prank that Circles.Life pulled on Singaporeans. Most recently, it also pulled a fast one on Singaporeans by placing fake parking summons on cars that, at a closer look, shared details on Discover Fun. The prank was carried out over the course of one day, across several malls including ION, Takashimaya, Paragon, 313 Somerset, Wisma Atria, IMM, JEM, Waterway Point, Tampines Mall and Westgate. The telco also partnered with five influencers to amplify the activation online.
Separately earlier in July, the telco hijacked Safe Entry signages to promote its eSIM. To raise awareness of its new product, the telco set up 90 standees at Jurong East Mall, NEX, and Tampines Mall. The prank had gotten Singaporeans confused and scanning the fake Safe Entry QR codes, where they will be redirected to Circles.Life's web page.
Another one of Circles.Life's pranks that caught the attention of the masses was in 2017 when the telco was newly-launched in Singapore. Circles.Life hired artists and influencer duo Youtiao666 to vandalise its “competitor” out of home (OOH) assets. The competitor in question was SGMobile, a fake company claiming to be Singapore’s “fourth telco”. Circles.Life confirmed the stunt to Marketing, explaining that the SGMobile ads on XCO Media+ assets were part of its branding campaign. This was to highlight the frustration of data-savvy Singaporeans with the limited amount of data available in mobile offerings today.
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