Scoot pokes fun at social studies textbook, Holiday Inn follows suit

Scoot has garnered online praise for its witty post taking aim at the contents of a controversial social studies textbook making its rounds online. The book classified how Singaporeans of different socio-economic statuses (SES) behave; it also classified different behaviours as “higher SES” and “lower SES”.

In the post, Scoot created a table to differentiate higher SES and lower SES travellers – only for the contents of each column to be exactly the same. This includes flying Scoot for great value, a love to escape the ordinary and a traveller who is always planning the next holiday.

The post has since garnered over 1,700 reactions, 769 shares and 105 comments. Many netizens praised Scoot for its sass and “best in class” PR and marketing for being engaging and based on current events. In response to many comments, Scoot was also seen including GIFs and witty notes to commentators.

Speaking to Marketing on the stunt, Rowena Bhagchandani, CEO and co-founder at BLKJ, said the move was an example of what was possible when there is “great deal of trust” between client and agency.

“The new economy demands that we empower people and trust them to devise and implement solutions at the speed of the market. Scoot's only aim as a brand is to delight their customers at each and every interaction and it has found a partner which shares the same DNA," Bhagchandani added.

She added that while the idea was conceptualised by the social team, it was accepted and improved by the Scoot team under a short turnaround time. The airline appointed BLK J in January to manage creative duties, following a pitch which saw BBDO and Tribal DDB entering the final round of shortlist.

Scoot's real time marketing stunt was also picked up by Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong, which also posted a near identical infographic plugging its #StaySmart campaign while tagging Scoot. In its post, the hospitality brand said both lower and higher SES customers enjoyed free breakfast with their stay and booking smart deals.

The controversial social studies textbook in question was first pointed out by netizen Ahmad Martin, who uploaded a page outlining the different behaviours of higher SES citizens and lower SES citizens. Lower SES behaviours included activities such as speaking Singlish and eating at hawker centres – which is often perceived to be a big part of Singaporean culture.

Meanwhile, higher SES activities include "use of formal English in daily conversation or at home", "regular fine dining at expensive restaurants" and "sports like golf or tennis at an exclusive country club".

Unsurprisingly, this did not sit well with netizens, which called out the textbook for overgeneralising and perpetuating social divides. Read the full post here:

The textbook also prompted the Ministry of Education (MOE) to step out and clarify that this book was not listed on its Approved Textbook List. This was after multiple requests were made for MOE to weigh in on the matter.

“Commercial learning materials approved by MOE will bear the Ministry’s stamp of approval on their front cover or inside the book,” the statement written by MOE on Martin’s post added.

Being witty in its marketing is not a new move for Scoot. In 2016, the brand took a jab at Malaysian competitors AirAsia X after an AirAsia plane bound for Kuala Lumpur ended up Melbourne. It also sparked a debate online after a tongue-in-cheek response to a customer complaining about its in-flight food.

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