#MarketingExcellenceAwards SG 2021 highlights: Singtel wins back brand trust with humour-led anti-scam ad campaign

#MarketingExcellenceAwards SG 2021 highlights: Singtel wins back brand trust with humour-led anti-scam ad campaign

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In the past few years, the number of scams and phishing incidents has increased in the Singapore market. According to the telecommunications company, Singtel, tech support scams are becoming the second-costliest scams. In fact, in the Police News Release on ScamSituation, at least SG$41 million were lost to scammers in the first few months of the years. This was approximately SG$9 million (27.9%) more as compared to the year before. 

As a leading telco, Singtel was aware of its name being popularly used in tech-support scams. In a bid to protect its name, and its consumers, from falling prey to such incidents, the brand decided to address the issue to warn the general public on the ongoing scams. Launching its scam awareness campaign, the telecommunications company won the hearts of the judges and managed to clinch the gold award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Marketing Excellence Awards 2021.


Social engineering scams were fast becoming a prevalent issue. In Singapore, a variant has been on the rise in recent years, in which callers pose as tech support staff claiming to be from big companies. Being a trusted brand, Singtel’s name was marred in many of these on-going scams as it allowed scammers to establish legitimacy with targets, ensuring a more successful hit rate. 

According to Singtel, scam victims lost more than SG$14 million in the first half of 2020, making tech supports scams the second-costliest scams after investment scams. In one such scam, fraudsters cheat victims into believing their Internet connections have been compromised and persuaded them to install software applications such TeamViewer, after which the fraudsters “offered to help” these unsuspecting customers to troubleshoot remotely. Once the application was installed, the scammers would then access the victims' computers and transfer money out of the respective bank accounts.

While Singtel was already issuing advisories to the public to combat such scams, the telecommunication company came to the conclusion that no method or solution was fool-proof. Typically, the response would be to put distance between companies and reputation risks. Singtel, however, had another approach. In fact, Singtel decided that the risks would be greater if the company did not address the elephant in the room. The situation was acute and warranted a public education campaign. 


With the aim of helping Singaporeans recognise scams, Singtel launched an educational campaign, titled, "Jaga your data!". The campaign was built on a series of short videos, each playing out a telco-related ruse that has tricked consumers. Utilising humour in the dialogue, cinematography and acting, Singtel aimed to make the scenarios in the videos memorable. This in turn, drove the message that everyone is responsible for staying vigilent to avoid falling prey to scams. 

The drama and the conversation between the characters, which recounted the scam faced by the victim and the skepticism of the family member or friend - became a post-mortem of the incident, helping viewers recognise the red flags, without being dull or too instructional. To ensure that the video would be relatable to all walks of life, Singtel featured different generations such as Millennials, mature adults, and seniors. Aside from that, the telecommunications company decided to inject a large dose of humour to raise awareness of a tough subject in an easy and understandable manner.  

Playing to familiarity, Singtel featured local actors such as Pamela Oei and Shane Mardjuki to take on different personalities of varying ages in each scam scenario. This in turns helped to engage viewers of all generations to demonstrate how anyone, regardless of age or gender, is vulnerable to a scam.  Infused with quintessential Singaporean humour, the films aimed to persuade audiences that recognising tell-tale signs of a scam is half the battle won. 


In the first film of the series, "This is tech support calling", a fraudster masquerades as Singtel’s technical support, convincing the victim that her IP address has been "hacked". Fooled by the urgency of the scammer, the victim downloads a software that enables remote control of the desktop to solve the problem, and unwittingly hands over internet banking one-time passwords when asked. The scammers then make off with the victim’s money.

In the second film, "Robocall", the victim receives an automated voice call claiming that his mobile line will be terminated shortly. Alarmed, the victim follows the "operator’s" instructions to get connected to a technician who claims to be from Singtel, informing the victim that his mobile phone number has been used for illicit activities. The scammer offers to help the victim check if his credit card has been compromised and asks for his credit card number and one-time-password, which was then used to conduct fraudulent transactions.

For the third film, "Fast Cash Anyone?", the ad features a scam that counts on victims falling for get-rich-quick schemes. In this scene, the victim responds to a "quick cash" ad online and was convinced to sign up for a new mobile line and SIM card, before handing it over to the scammer in exchange for cash, who also promises to foot the monthly mobile bills. The cash never comes, and the victim realises that he has been scammed when he receives exorbitant mobile bills and the scammer remains uncontactable.

The videos were posted on Singtel's social media channels and on Singtel TV. Furthermore, the telecommunications company worked with the authorities to spread the word on the campaign.

The campaign launch was also timed together with the launch of Scamshield, an application that actively blocks calls and filters spam messages from blacklisted numbers. The application was launched by the National Prime Prevention Council. 


The campaign proved to be a success, chalking up close to four million views since its launch at the end of November 2020. The campaign also received positive feedback from the public, industry, and community watchdogs. In fact, the general public felt that instead of shying away from the issue, Singtel took ownership and sought to find solutions. 

By serving up anti-scam lessons with a dash of humour with the aim of making the messages stick, Singtel said it hoped it had managed to foil some of these scammers’ efforts by encouraging Singaporeans to stay vigilant to protect themselves and their families.

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