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Samsung SG pulls ad with drag queen and mother, netizens divided on stance

Samsung SG pulls ad with drag queen and mother, netizens divided on stance

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Samsung Singapore has removed an ad which was launched late last year for its wearable products. The removal came with an apology as some netizens found the ad to be insensitive and offensive to "some members of the local community" in Singapore. In its apology, the brand said that while it believes innovation and growth are driven by diversity and inclusivity, it will be more mindful in considering all perspectives and viewpoints for future marketing.

The company said in a Facebook post: "We acknowledge that we have fallen short in this instance, and have since removed the content from all public platforms."


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While the brand did not specify the name of the campaign, online chatter indicated that netizens were discussing Samsung's "Samsung Listen to your Heart" campaign, which took an emotional approach to showcasing its latest Samsung Galaxy Buds2 and Watch4.  Done in collaboration with ad agency Cheil Singapore, the team worked with individuals from different walks of life to test the Galaxy Buds2 and Watch4 Classic and recorded their heart rates as they listened to various genres of music. In a surprise twist, Samsung embedded a voice-recorded message from someone close to the individuals, who wanted to express something personal to them for a long time.

Among the individuals featured were a drag queen who expressed appreciation for his tudung-wearing but totally supportive mother; a pair of best friends whose friendship showcased loyalty; an absentee father who spent years in jail but turned over a new leaf thanks to his daughter; and a man paying tribute to his fiancée’s courage in battling depression while taking care of her ailing mother.

Both the video, and Samsung's removal of the video and issuance of an apology, had netizens divided. One netizen who objected to the initial video, later praised Samsung for "adapting and reacting to market responses" since "not every company will do that". Meanwhile, another netizen, unhappy with the ad, questioned why the ad was created in the first place. 

Meanwhile, some also defended the brand, stating that the video was about a mother and her child's bond, calling the spot "touching and revolutionary". Another netizen also showed support for the LGBT community, explaining: "Among some family and friends, sense and sensibility do exist. To LGBT friends facing outright discrimination, you have a friend in me," he added. Others disagreed with Samsung's move to pull the ad and issue an apology because they thought the brand should have stood its ground. 

Speaking to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE about the backlash, Anand Vathiyar, MD of Cheil Singapore said the point of the campaign was for people to express what is often left unsaid to their loved ones. He added that it was unfortunate that a mother's love and support for her son, regardless of what he does for a living, is being singled out in this instance. "What is heartening is that for everyone who is getting politically correct about this episode, there are many others, especially younger Singaporeans, who seem to get that we can do better to listen to each other with due care, empathy, respect, and consideration," Vathiyar explained. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Samsung Singapore for additional comments. 

Related articles:
Samsung Group's Cheil Worldwide launches e-comm platform GETTT in South Korea
Anand Vathiyar to lead Cheil SG as agency Up & Up closes shop
Samsung SG makes hearts skip a beat with emotional twist in new spot
Samsung partners with K-pop singer BIBI to launch AR fashion collection

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