Controversial dating platform SugarBook has garnered attention for its co-sponsorship of a Sky Grande Prix party happening in light of the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix weekend. According to the event’s website, Sugarbook will be hosting games of Blackjack at tables during the event in a bid to "redefine chivalry in Singapore".
Earlier this year, the SugarBook dating platform caught the attention of the Singapore parliament, which saw Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee confirming that the police will keep a “close eye” on the platform. At the time, Lee said that dating platforms such as SugarBook “commoditise[s] and devalue[s] relationships under the cover of a "mutually beneficial arrangement". As such, these relationships become transactional and an exchange of money and gifts in return for companionship and "other" services.
Earlier in March, the company had a private event cancelled by Zouk KL as the venue for the event, due to sexual connotations and worries of coming into a spotlight following its Neelofa controversy. This was after the event went viral on social media for tagging itself as "Where romance meets finance".
When contacted by Marketing, event party organiser Vanilla Luxury said that as a home grown brand, the company has worked with a multitude of partners and voices over the years to build events for audiences. This includes creating diverse experiences every year and to reach out to brands that are aligned with this. The spokesperson added: “This year Sugarbook is only one of our many partners.”
“In every event and relationship, compliance with the law is mandatory. Should we discover any of our partners or sponsors breaking the law, we will terminate the relationship immediately. We are committed to providing a world-class experience in Singapore,” the spokesperson added. The spokesperson also highlighted that the event’s five-day programme is also one which caters to [all sponsors], adding:
This isn't an event for or by SugarBook, which the media seems to be sensationalising, and it is rather unfair to all our other sponsors.
Currently, the title sponsor of the event is JiojioMe, a social networking mobile application. Other partners include Grand Hyatt Singapore, Martini Bar, Mezza9, Joseph Ribhoff, Dunhill London, Fervor, Only Aesthetics, Dolce & Gabbana, The Macallan, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire and Redbull, to name a few.
Sponsors and partners are involved in event activities such as a ladies’ night dedicated to fashion and beauty which sees the involvement of brands such as Fervor Montreal, Joseph Ribkoff, Only Aesthetics, and True Heritage Brew. Partners are also involved in game nights and customised menus for the event.
In a statement to Marketing, Jean Ng, director, sports, Singapore Tourism Board explained that Sky Grande Prix is just one of the events marketed under STB’s Grand Prix Season Singapore series (GPSS). This series includes exclusive race-themed lifestyle experiences and promotions beyond the race track. Ng added:
We were not aware previously that SugarBook is a co-sponsor of Sky Grande Prix as this event is not organised nor supported by STB.
"Event organisers also manage sponsorship for their events independently and are not obliged to inform STB proactively. We are currently following up with the organiser of Sky Grande Prix on the matter," Ng said.
Both STB and Vanilla Luxury have also mutually agreed that the event will not be part of Grand Prix Season Singapore this year. This means Sky Grande Prix will be removed from all future marketing collaterals prepared by STB in anticipation of the F1 weekend. A quick check by Marketing found the event to have been removed from the VisitSingapore GPSS guide.
"STB will thus be focusing on other events in the final stretch of our GPSS campaign in the lead up to the race," Ng added.