HPB pulls ad featuring controversial Pepe the Frog meme

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has taken down a video for its National Steps Challenge, which featured Pepe the Frog meme. This was because the frog is said to be representative of an internet hate symbol.

In an emailed statement to Marketing, HPB said that both the organisation and its video producer were unaware of the various interpretations of the image. HPB also said that in consideration of the feedback received, it had removed the frog image to ensure there is no misconception about the intent of the image. It also thanked lifestyle website Coconuts.co, who had first reported the frog's varied representations to HPB.

Since the removal of the last video, HPB has also put up a new one featuring local celebrity Chua En Lai (without Pepe) which has already garnered over 3,000 views.

Pepe the Frog meme first gained traction online, being used in situations to express emotions such as sadness and anger. Soon, it was used in situations, both expressing the feeling of something good and bad, as the frog was wearing a smirk on its face. However, the image took a political turn two years ago following the 2016 Presidential elections as part of the "Alt-Right" movement.

According to BBC, Pepe the Frog was subsequently added to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)'s database of hate symbols, joining the ranks of logos such as the Swastika and the "Blood Drop Cross" of the Ku Klux Klan, which were also deemed as offensive.