Local supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice has been criticised by netizens for its Chinese New Year t-shirts with the character "shou" (寿) printed on it. In Mandarin, the term "shouyi" (寿衣) translates to longevity but could also be understood as "longevity clothing", referring to traditional funeral attire for the deceased.
The news was first reported by AsiaOne, after a netizen posted an image of the t-shirt on Facebook. AsiaOne added that the "shou" printed t-shirt is one of the three that was allegedly designed by online retailer Sporticube. The t-shirts were meant to reference three Chinese deities - Fu (福), Lu (禄) and Shou (寿).
Nonetheless, the image caught the attention of several locals who were quick to have a go at NTUC FairPrice for getting "someone with no cultural knowledge" to see this through, and asked for the procurement department to "wake up". Some of the comments on Facebook saw netizens blaming NTUC FairPrice's English-speaking staff for the error, while one particular netizen said this is what happens when locals are replaced with foreign talents.
In a statement to Marketing, a NTUC FairPrice spokesperson said the company understands that the product in question may "unfortunately" be misinterpreted as being offensive to some. "We seek our customers’ understanding and apologise if it has caused any unintended meaning other than wishing for Longevity. The item has since been removed from our stores," the spokesperson added.
This comes in the midst NTUC FairPrice looking for a new creative partner. Marketing first broke the news that the supermarket chain called for a pitch in November 2019, and that the pitch will be handled by R3. NTUC FairPrice has over the years worked with ADK, TNT advertising and Crush advertising. Most recently, BBH Singapore worked with NTUC FairPrice to launch an integrated campaign called “Worth The Trip” to better engage and connect with its shoppers and the community.