Speak good Singlish, can?

I am no stranger to our beloved home grown dialect Singlish but what really irks me are ads which go over the top to make it sound absolutely ridiculous.

Slapping it on to commercials is a weak attempt to be “local”, I feel. Here are a few that I felt were done in bad taste.

Subway – Not fresh

While the first ad with Julio Chin Handsome was tolerable (at best) the second with Rosy Wah was outright painful.

Check out the review here. 

Subway has been localising its brand in markets and for Singapore, Singlish can certainly be a powerful medium to target locals. However, this ad does injustice to our unofficial national language.

Come on guys, we are Singaporeans and we do have some pride.

Agreeing with me on the matter was Valerie Cheng, CCO of JWT who stated that had I not asked her for a review of the article, she would not have made it past the five second mark.

Singlish can be charming if delivered well, Cheng said, and with her I agreed that this ad completely missed the mark.

Hung by the Noose

I love watching the Mediacorp’s local sitcom Noose. Barbarella, Leticia and in fact all the characters are hilarious and this is a perfect instance of Singlish, or the jumble of local accents, actually done right.

But take those characters and put them into an ad for condominiums, and it throws the whole equation off. The ad targeting condo buyers, portrays several of the Noose characters as your ideal neighbours in this vicinity.

The question is, do I really want these neighbours? May be, not.

Tracy Wong, co-founder and creative director of creative agency Some Kind of Wonderful commented on the ad saying:

“I don’t know anyone who would take this ad seriously, especially the middle-class family target audiences who are forking out more than a million dollars for a lifestyle upgrade.  This surely is a spoof of condo ads and if so, I must have missed the humor.”

Where’s the beef?

This ad, while not completely in Singlish, carried the local Singaporean twang. While I found the first “rapper” sort of cool and entertaining the second one (pictured left below)  totally “cramped his style” dumbing down the entire ad with his very local annunciation.

(Or maybe, I just don’t like his face)

Nonetheless, I appreciate the ads attempt to create with a wider range of youths both Singlish-speaking and non-Singlish speaking.

Meanwhile, here are two Singlish ads that actually got it right.

Kakis for life

The story of Ong and Raj is layered with Singlish, Bahasa, Mandrin and Tamil. The language is what we would call “rojak” but it gets the point across beautifully and tastefully.

Watch the friendship of these local folks evolve.

A well-made ad, we say!

Charming massage parlour uncle

This second ad of the message uncle is another hilarious one. Completely in Singlish, the uncle is hilarious, relatable and watchable.

Don’t miss this if you have a minute to laugh.

I wish this uncle worked in my office too.

Are there any other ads that you thought did a wonderful job portraying our unofficial language? Contact me at to share your thoughts.

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