Singapore always has a surprise waiting for you

From ‘Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed’, 9 April 2014, article by Carolyn Khew, Raul Dancel, ST

A VIDEO to promote Singapore in the Philippines “could have been done better”, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) admitted yesterday, after it was slammed for its “bad script” and “sloppy production”.

The three-minute video features a couple from the Philippines visiting attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands. At one stage, the woman gives the man a gift – a pregnancy test kit indicating she is pregnant. The shocked man remarks: “Singapore always had a surprise waiting for me.

…Netizen Evonne Sim criticised the video for its “low-cost production” adding that it felt “so 80s”.

Filipino travel writer Stella Arnaldo said: “I couldn’t get past the ‘Honey! Look!‘. Bad acting turned me off already. The major advertising firms have regional headquarters in Singapore, and STB comes up with this?”

Cheesy, awkward acting has always been the bane of tourism videos, and so are takeaway catchphrases whether it’s ‘Get LOST!‘, or ‘SHIOK’. The problem with STB’s latest Pinoy pitch is that its catchphrase (Honey, Look!) has nothing to do with Singapore, and what we’ll remember it by is not the Supertree Grove or expensive dining in a cable car, but the image of a pregnancy test kit in a box at the twisty shock ending.

Having a baby is a reason to celebrate no doubt, except that this could your last anniversary trip not just to Singapore, but ANYWHERE in the world once Baby is out. I can only imagine mixed emotions in the hubby, though what I saw from his expression was surely nothing but pure ecstasy.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9

So what we have here is not so much sloppy production or bad dialogue, but a case of excessive ‘storytelling’ and not enough scenes to showcase Singapore, or rather, the REAL Singapore. The Merlion was brutally snubbed in this video and not a single face of a smiling Singaporean was featured. The only food you see here is some atas salmon dish, not satay, durian or chicken rice. And the couple didn’t even look like they were enjoying it, more engrossed with surprising each other than relishing the sights of Singapore from above.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.33.22 AM

Singapore: Baked Salmon Paradise

Here’s a uniquely Singaporean tagline for the ad since it sorely needs one. CANNOT MAKE IT LA.

 

 

Netizen Evonne Sim criticised the video for its “low-cost production” adding that it felt “so 80s”.

Filipino travel writer Stella Arnaldo said: “I couldn’t get past the ‘Honey! Look!’. Bad acting turned me off already. The major advertising firms have regional headquarters in Singapore, and STB comes up with this?”

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

The advertisement was uploaded to STB’s Facebook page for the Philippines last month. It was also shared on its YouTube channel and featured on TV there. Mr Chong said it was withdrawn because “it was not resonating well with audiences”. – See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

A VIDEO to promote Singapore in the Philippines “could have been done better”, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) admitted yesterday, after it was slammed for its “bad script” and “sloppy production”.

The three-minute video features a couple from the Philippines visiting attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.

At one stage, the woman gives the man a gift – a pregnancy test kit indicating she is pregnant. The shocked man remarks: “Singapore always had a surprise waiting for me.”

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

A VIDEO to promote Singapore in the Philippines “could have been done better”, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) admitted yesterday, after it was slammed for its “bad script” and “sloppy production”.

The three-minute video features a couple from the Philippines visiting attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.

At one stage, the woman gives the man a gift – a pregnancy test kit indicating she is pregnant. The shocked man remarks: “Singapore always had a surprise waiting for me.”

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
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Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
 0  0

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
 0  0

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
 0  0

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

About these ads

DJ Chris Ho calling for ‘fckn’ Singaporeans to be killed

From ‘Radio DJ apologises for Facebook post’, 5 April 2014, article by Walter Sim, ST

A MEDIACORP Lush 99.5FM DJ apologised yesterday for a controversial Facebook post in which he called for Singaporeans to be killed. Mr Chris Ho commented on an army recruitment advertisement on the social media platform on Thursday.

The campaign, launched last December, bears the slogan: “How far would you go to protect our home?” The Singaporean wrote in response: “How far…? Let’s see… I’m with you foreigners! Kill the **** Singaporeans but not my friends, can?”

His comment caused fury among netizens and was reposted on citizen journalism portal Stomp. Contributor Tee Seng said: “What kind of joke is this? If he hates Singaporeans so much, why is he still here? I used to be a fan of his but he has gone too far.”

Mr Ho told The Straits Times yesterday he was surprised by the response. “It is such a far-fetched statement that I’m shocked that Singaporeans are taking it so seriously,” he said, adding that the “satirical” message was meant to mock the campaign slogan. “Hello, Singaporeans, you mean you need people to give you a wake-up call to defend the country?” he asked.

“Why should the question be put forth as such? Singaporeans who love the country would know what to do.” He said he wanted to allude to the rising levels of anti-foreigner sentiment here. The ex-Straits Times rock columnist added: “I think Singaporeans are looking for a new Anton Casey… I’m not advocating genocide.”

How far? Too far for some, apparently

How far? Gone too far for some, apparently

It took me a while to ‘get’ the humour behind Chris Ho’s jibe at the SAF ad, and thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks he’s ‘too cheem’ for me. It’s also hard to tell when he’s sarcastic or furious when he and New Nation bickered online over the post where the latter made fun of Chris ‘falling’ for a satire piece about ‘Man dying in a protest against foreigners‘ (which wasn’t even very funny to begin with). I don’t know what experts on wit think of either example of this ‘satire’, but in my book, satire should have universal appeal, is spontaneous, and actually funny to someone other than the creator. Or maybe it’s just me.

As for the ad, I don’t see anything wrong with asking someone ‘how far would you go’ to defend the nation, even if any response other than ‘I’ll fight to the death’ will be deemed unacceptable. It’s like asking ‘Will you die for Singapore?’, or ‘How much would you give to society?’, a pedantic rhetorical device to remind you of your duty, where an actual answer isn’t expected because we don’t want to hear the ugly truth.  But there’s a double meaning here too if you interpret ‘how far’ in terms of literal DISTANCE, which is more likely to be the case here, looking at the mountains in the background. It sounds sensible at first, referring to overseas stints from Brunei to Afghanistan to get you all geared up for military operations, but if you think about it, the further away you are, the SLOWER you are in coming back in the event of a real ATTACK back home. Either way, the slogan is bound to get criticised, and Chris, or X’Ho, is no stranger when it comes to controversy or criticising his home country.

Dj-ing for Lush aside, Chris is a local music icon who in the early 80′s performed as frontman for Zircon Lounge and is today revered as the counter-cultural antithesis to more ‘wholesome’ ambassadors like Dick Lee.  He also dabbles in ‘spoken word’ album territory, and from his 1999 album ‘X’ with an X’ came a track called ‘Singapore is Not My Country‘, his take on Alfian Bin Saat’s ‘ode’ to the nation (the full transcript here). In the 2000′s, Zircon Gov.Pawn Starz was formed. The album ‘Follywood’ features the track ‘Mouthless Fish‘ about people ‘barely breathing to make ends meet’, with BigO magazine rating it as the ‘most fucking punk rock album we have ever’. Check out this ‘punk rock’ album cover!

Majulah SingaPawnStarz

The ‘shock jock’ has even been filmed getting his PENIS tattooed. In THAI. A Today review of 2008′s Baphomet Sacrum describes him as ‘Singapore’s unfavourite son’.  Anyone unfamiliar with ‘dark wave’ or goth would think track titles such as ‘Satan’s Blood’ and ‘Her Soul’s Demise’ off the Lucifugous collaboration album were devotional hymns of the occult.  ‘No Ordinary Country’ has the refrain ‘Majulah Fearless Supremacy’ and its album cover has lightning logos on it. There’s even a song about the Blogfather himself called ‘Excuse Me Mr Brown’, where Chris calls Brown the ‘next Talking Cock big time’. ‘Talking cock’ being, well, the lingua franca of social media most of the time anyway.

So the first question that came to mind was: What did this multi-hyphenate (author, singer, DJ, film director) celebrity, being Singaporean and all, actually DO IN NS? According to a 2006 Interview with Today, he said he ‘has done everything he could think of to get into the Singapore Armed Forces MUSIC AND DRAMA Company’, and eventually spent 2 years as an actor after BMT. Like, who wouldn’t right? How far then would you go, Chris Ho, to protect this country that you love-hate so much? A question that wasn’t addressed in his FB apology, or maybe it was hidden somewhere so deep and lost in ‘satire’ that I couldn’t detect it with my radar for low-brow fart jokes and all.

There was a time when the man actually made seriously good pop music, without the Singapore-bashing and ‘satire’ getting in the way. Unlike his current ‘uneasy listening’ work, ‘Deeper’ (1992) is heartfelt and uncharacteristically melodious, and no surprise that this came before the ‘Punk Monk Hunk’ days, where spiritual awakenings mean getting your genitals pricked and scarred in the name of art. Pubic hair snipping? Amateur!

Which suggests that Chris is capable for much more than just ranting against the Government or NS, or participating in the Berlin Porn Festival. It would be nice to see that good ol’ innocent side of him once more.

Education Alive ad depicting a kid trapped under a truck

From ‘Tuition agency order to stop ‘objectionable ad”, 27 March 2014, article by Joy Fang, Today

The advertising authority ordered a tuition agency to stop placing an advertisement that shows a child trapped under a vehicle, after parents denounced its graphic content. The full-page advertisement by Education Alive to promote a workshop carries a picture of a child crushed under a vehicle beneath the words “Breaking news: Child trapped under 4 tonnes truck!”

It also asked “concerned parents” of children taking the GCE O- and A-Level examinations this year what they would do to “save” their child….Its intent was to convey to parents that “their child’s future is a matter of life and death” and that parents “can literally change their child’s destiny if they wanted to”, she (founder Sherina Koh) explained.

…Senior marketing executive Samantha Lee, 33, who has two sons aged two and five, said it was “very wrong to use such a picture as part of their marketing campaign”.

“What kind of message are they trying to put across? That if I do not attend this workshop, my child will die? It’s insulting to parents,” she said.

Photo credit from 'Faces of Death'

Photo credit from ‘Faces of Death’

Yes, this ad is definitely objectionable. First of all, it’s 4-TONNE truck, not 4 TONNES truck. Next, it’s ‘imagine if he WERE your child, not WAS’. The hyphen between the ‘MUST ATTEND’ is missing, and I seriously doubt the claim of ‘INSTANTLY’. It’s a child’s brain you’re talking about here, not a stained shirt treated with Dynamo. If I were a parent, I’d be more offended by the grammar and the schizo right and left text alignment than graphic violence, and this would be the last place on earth to send a child for English tuition (though it could also mean a great place for CHINESE tuition). Yes, I would risk my life to pull my baby out from under a truck in an instant, just like I’d rescue anyone else’s kids from the clutches of a company that sounds more like a geomancy consultancy than educators.

Sherina Koh explained in a subsequent FB post cum apology that the truck image was inspired by the story of a mother displaying superhuman strength by lifting a car off her trapped child, which suggests that failure to enrol your kid with Education Alive spells eternal doom and you’re a bad parent for neglecting to do so. In any case, lifting a CAR is one thing, 4 TONNES of TRUCK on the other hand, is ridiculous. She also describes a child’s ‘future’ as being ‘a matter of life or death’. Erm, isn’t EVERYONE’S future a matter of life or death? You either live or die tomorrow, or next week. Did she really mean EXAMS instead? That if you fail your O’s/A’s, it’s the end of the world as you know it? Gosh, it must terrible for those school dropouts then, especially those who went on to found multibillion internet start-ups. Their destiny must be total shit if Education Alive is to be taken seriously.

These EA folks brand themselves as ‘coaches’ not ‘tutors’. They’re also dream builders and dream ‘livers’. I have my dream liver too; I like it slightly on the raw side in a hearty bowl of peppery pork innards soup. For a bunch of ‘fun-loving’, ‘crazy’ practitioners of this destiny-changing ‘methodology’ who wear clown noses on their website, having a gruesome image in a full page ad seems out of place. But that’s not all. They used to have an ad with the actual words ‘DYING’ in Dracula font, which they pulled out of their FB page when I last accessed it. Maybe they don’t just help kids pass exams, they’re necromancers who resurrect the dead too. With their pixie dust dream magic.

And it’s ‘witness how your child COMES alive’.

SAVE THE CHILDREN OH GOD!

SAVE THE CHILDREN OH GOD!

 

Safra gym ad condoning sexual harrassment

From ‘Seeing red over Safra’s healthy distractions’, 10 March 2014, article by Lee Wan Sim, My Paper

AN ADVERTISEMENT aimed at attracting people to sign up with the Safra National Service Association’s clubs has ended up riling some online. The ad shows two men working out at a gym ogling an attractive woman behind her back, with the tagline: “A great workout, good friends and some healthy distractions.

Several netizens saw the ad as degrading to women. A woman named Cindy Ng posted a picture of the ad, which she said appeared at a bus stop in Upper Thomson Road, on the Safra Facebook page on Saturday.

She said this was “outright distasteful, completely disrespectful to women and borders on condoning sexual harassment”. Several other commenters – both men and women – agreed, with one user called Faith Toh claiming that “through this ad, Safra has endorsed the objectification of women”.

However, others disagreed, saying it was “harmless” and did not degrade women. In a Facebook comment, Safra said the ad was meant “to showcase some bonding moments among our NSmen while having a tongue-in-cheek approach to life experiences”.

“Be it in the gym or anywhere else, it is not uncommon for some women to be checked out by men or vice versa,” it said, adding that the ad was “not aimed to devalue women and neither does Safra condone it”.

Pumping iron never looked so good

Pumping iron never looked so good

AWARE, as expected, got into the thick of the ad controversy, saying that the poster encourages perverted leering and makes gyms dangerous for women. I’m not a fan of gym workouts, but I’d gather one reason why there are often mirrors there is not so you can sneak a glance at someone’s rack, but to ogle at your own bulging awesomeness like the narcissistic handsome devil that you are.

Ogling is universal for both sexes of course, but it’s only played to comedic effect in pop culture when men are the ones doing the eyeballing. Women complain about the sleazy attention to the point of calling it a precursor for gangrape, but few would realise that staring at a comely woman tends to depict men as the more IDIOTIC sex. Whether it’s having them fall into a manhole, walk face first in a pole or fall off a chair, the gag is always on the one nursing a ridiculous hard-on and drooling from the mouth. It happens in sex comedies and ads selling products from shampoo to low-fat yogurt. Why isn’t anyone complaining that the ad undermines our ability to think outside our genitals?

If anything, attractive women are usually the total opposite of HEALTHY distractions. They turn men into total morons, and no exception in a gym if in your attempt to impress the babe on the treadmill, you pump more iron than your body can take and end up with a torn triceps, injuring yourself before you can even think of doing any actual molesting of your own. Even if a woman does get any kind of unsavoury propositions from stinky men in a gym, there are plenty of defensive weapons at her disposal, like the little dumbbell the SAFRA model is carrying for example. The last thing we want to do is chat up a girl who’s all pumped up for her boxercise class, with a devastating 5 pounder in her grasp.

No one in the right mind would sign up for SAFRA just to check out the ‘healthy distractions’. You could do it tactically on the MRT, at work, the beach etc and it would be the perfectly normal thing to do since most men have control over their animal urges and have gotten away with daily ogling without turning into sex maniacs. When you take a staged snapshot and stamp a gym membership product on it on the other hand, it suddenly becomes a glaring endorsement of rape culture and sexploitation. AWARE sure knows how to flex a feminist muscle or too, what with the flag-waving and man-bashing and all. They may get an army song lyric banned, but I doubt their argument here holds much weight.

Dana and Stefan cooking dinner for Singaporeans

From ‘Sweet gesture hits sour note online’, 9 Sept 2013, article by Linette Lai and Walter Sim, ST

WHEN German couple Dana and Stefan invited strangers to their Singapore home for dinner last month, the response was overwhelming. Their online “open invitation” for six guests at an authentic German meal went viral, with 400 sign-ups. Netizens lauded the gesture as being “sweet” and “heartwarming”.

But all was not as it seemed. The dinner was the first of four hosted by expatriates as part of the sixth FairPrice Finest Festival, the supermarket’s annual food celebration.

And the marketing ploy has left a sour taste for some, with sign-up rates plunging after the link with FairPrice was revealed about a week after the first invite.

…Netizens speculated that the hosts were merely “paid actors” in a “staged marketing gimmick”, prompting organisers to clarify that they had “volunteered after hearing about the idea through word of mouth”.

If you see an over-friendly German couple trying their darnedest to convince complete STRANGERS to go over to their house, it calls for a healthy dose of skepticism. Personally, I wouldn’t go to a stranger’s home, expat or Singaporean, for a FREE meal without a professional taster who’s willing to sacrifice his life for me. I would expect at least a chat over coffee as a prelude to something as personal and heartfelt as home-cooking. Even then, my first instinct in a strange abode would be to spot the nearest escape route or piece of furniture to use as self-defence in case this ‘open invitation’ turns out to be a deadly cannibalistic trap. It’s either death by poison, or awkward silence.

The Singapore Kindness Movement were either in cahoots with NTUC or genuinely fooled by the video, saying that Dana and Stefan’s invitation ‘exemplifies the spirit of #bigmakan, bonding and building friendships over food’. Turns out that the couple got a nasty backlash for their hospitality which they didn’t expect coming from food-loving Singaporeans, who felt ‘cheated’ when they realised their act of ‘kindness’ was possibly sponsored by a multi-conglomerate. The follow up videos show Dana and Stefan stocking up from Fairprice Finest before cooking up a storm, though you could get fresher ingredients from the wet market or some other specialty deli. Finest does sell canned sauerkraut though, as if the reception from netizens wasn’t sour enough. I wouldn’t be surprised that some of the noisiest whiners about this ‘con-job’ were the ones who didn’t get selected to sample some Bavarian delights.

In 2011, an insurance firm ran a similar viral marketing gimmick to toy with our emotions, presenting us with a ‘forbidden love story’ between a 20-something guy and a 47 year old woman. Netizens who were fooled into tears were appalled by the dramatic revelations that unfolded, though I believe one reason for the nastiness flung at this disastrous anticlimax was the ridiculous amount of emotional investment in the story. It was like watching a tragic movie finishing with someone waking up saying ‘Phew it was all just a dream!’. You’d probably wouldn’t react like someone ripped you off half your life savings if you just took such online drama with a pinch of salt.

At first glance, Dana and Stefan look like trustworthy folks who are not likely to strangle you with a string of bratwurst sausages. I would have believed them even if they sold their souls to the devil, though NTUC comes close, but not to the extent of falling in love with their amiableness and feeling like I’ve been dealt a slap in the face because they were doing it for Fairprice Finest. I think they had good intentions, just unlucky to face the wrath of people who want a perfect, happy ending to every story they encounter online and hate to be duped and feeling played out. Food for thought, nonetheless; How many of us even cook for our neighbours, not to mention complete strangers?

Now if only there’s a German word for ‘the disappointment of having people accuse you of being sell-outs when you invite strangers to your home for a meal out of the warmth and  goodness of your heart’.

Aegyo Sal makes your eyes younger and friendlier

From ‘Look young with eyebags’, 8 Sept 2013, article by Lea Wee, Lifestyle, Sunday Times

Many people would do all they can to get rid of their eyebags. But some young Singaporeans are resorting to aesthetic procedures to make their undereye area more prominent because they think it makes them appear more youthful and friendly.

The trend, called “aegyo sal” (say a-gio-sal) in Korean, translates loosely as “cute skin”. It started in South Korea a few years ago and recently caught on here.

To make the areas under their lower eyelids “pop out”, people usually undergo a filler injection – a 30-minute procedure which costs about $1,000. The effect can also be created through make-up and tightening the lower eyelid muscle via surgery.

…A full-time blogger who goes by the screen name Yutaki James paid $1,000 for a filler injection to his lower eyelids last month. The 25-year-old, who blogs on current lifestyle trends, declines to give his real name. He saw advertisements on the procedure when he visited South Korea last year.

“When I knew it was available here, I decided to get it done because I wanted to keep up with trends. I also wanted to make my eyes look bigger.” During the procedure, he also had fillers to make his laugh lines and dark circles under his eyes less obvious.

He says he felt no pain but there was some swelling under his eyes on the first two days. This gradually disappeared after the first week. “I am happy with the effect. My friends say I look younger and more awake.”

Aegyo Sal surgery is basically a boob job done on the eyes. Pump some dermal filler to create a perky bulge just beneath the eye and it makes your blinkers ‘smile’ like a sexy beast. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that having swollen panda dark circles is considered attractive, so don’t think you can save money on Botox and SK-II just yet. You can work overnight and end up looking like you were punched in the face but you’re still not going to impress K-pop fanatics who would be able to tell the difference between a sad sack and an adorable bulge. When I look at my own peri-orbital musculature I see the Death Valley, not the ‘cute’ optic love handles that would make me look like I came from Neverland.

For more than 40 years, we have desired double eyelids to give that wide-eyed ‘European’ look, which together with eyebag removal in the 60′s, were among the first cosmetic procedures to be performed around the eyes. Makeup tricks aside, our obsession with bigger eyes and Japanese doll features have rejuvenated the contact lens business. For those with are born with naturally narrow peepers, Aegyo Sal seems to be the solution to all of life’s problems. You can face the world brimming with confidence knowing that there are people out there who are sexually attracted to eyes with puffy vulvae beneath them, so much so that some may even try to engage in oculolinctus with you.

Self-transformation and augmentation seems to be the bread and butter of full-time beauty bloggers, including the likes of Yutaki James, who’s a living Asian Ken doll and ambassador for these ‘Korean love bands’. This dude is a walking, pouting showcase of the $1000 face-craft of Prive clinic, one of the pioneers of this AS wave, advertised in their website as a ‘no-downtime’ procedure that would make you look ‘cuter’ and ‘sweeter’. I never knew I had ‘lash lines’ until I saw this. If AS surgery claims to make you look ‘friendlier’ after 30 mins, you could inject hyaluronic acid into Oscar the Grouch’s face and turn him into Sesame Street’s Sweetheart overnight. Imagine the wonders AS could do for Grumpy Cat.

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 11.27.53 AM

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then aegyo sal are the fancy curtains. According to the ST article above, the AS effect is just temporary, but you can imagine how people who have benefited from it would be compelled to fork out $1K every 6 months to maintain that sweet sac of succulence that makes as much difference to one’s eyes as a cleavage to a chest. AS wearing off would be like watching a bosom slowly deflating to its hideous, pre-op ‘flatness’, except that you can’t use modern undergarment technology to cover it up. If you can’t afford biannual injections or tightening your orbicularis oculi muscles for a permanent AS, it may be better to settle for invisible tape. Don’t by any means try to buff up your eyelids by lifting buckets of water with them, (though a man with eyelids stronger than my biceps would have an Instagram far more interesting than that of a Chinese bloke who gives himself a Japanese name)

It’s also strange how people are queasy about seeing the dentist, donating blood or even taking a fingerprick test, but have totally no qualms about getting a needle pierced just millimetres away from their eyeballs for the sake of beauty, or rather, when it comes to AS, LOVE. Such a pity that our ‘love handles’ aren’t deemed as pretty as these love ‘bands’ in our undereye areas, because most men my age have plenty of ‘love’ to give when it comes to the former.

SAF ‘Shades of Green’ ad demeaning to women

From Aware Facebook page and omy.sg, 7 Sept 2013.

Women, interested in a career with the Army? Quick, get out your eye-shadow palettes and pick your favourite shade of green, because that’s what will land you the job!

These packages went out to women in Singapore, advertising the Army Women’s Seminar 2013. It comes complete with a fake mirror and eye-shadow palette.

We want to let the Army know that make-up doesn’t stir our patriotic sentiments. Can you help us think of a creative, effective way to send them a message? The seminar is on the 14th of September, so we’ve to put our strategy together soon. Leave a comment on this post if you have a good idea.

Shades of Sexism

Shades of Sexism

SAF needs women badly and they’re on a recruitment spree to meet their target of an additional 500 female officers by 2018. If not for AWARE complaining about their marketing blitz being sexist, I wouldn’t have known about this Army Women’s Seminar. By harping on the Army objectifying women through the gimmick of green eyeshadow, AWARE has inadvertently given ad agency Mandate an unlikely helping hand in promoting the event. Any AWARE AGM would make a military seminar for ladies look like a flower arrangement workshop in comparison.

I’m sure AWARE fully supports the idea of having more ‘Girl Power’ in our armed forces, but maybe they should be ‘sending a message’ to the Army about the lack of female generals (the highest ranking female today is still Colonel) rather than picking on an ad for favouring provocation over patriotism. Personally I thought this fake makeup kit isn’t half as bad as the ‘trophy boyfriend’ ad some years back which suggested that women ovulate in squealing ecstasy at the sight of men in uniform. It’s also a novel way of getting women interested, instead of using models that suggest that female soldiers are supposed to look in a certain way that combines grace, dignity and steely courage, as below:

I see a woman wearing makeup

Or that they would fare well in the army by looking downright intimidating, like a discipline mistress in school.

Your future boss, ladies

I think the intention of the ‘Shades of Green’ ad is to portray an army career just like any other worth pursuing which involves dolling up as most professional women do, be it a high-flying corporate executive, an OL or an SIA stewardess. It also busts the stereotype that you have to look like a women’s judo champion, or a GI Jane, in order to serve. If a lady CEO dresses like a slut in public, AWARE is unlikely to complain, but if a female SAF officer dabs on lipstick in front of her male colleagues, it’s sexual oppression, nevermind if she does it while in full battle order and a rifle in hand.

It would be very helpful if AWARE actually does constructive creative work of their own and run some gender-neutral campaigns to support such events themselves, or better still volunteer to secure the frontline in the event of a real war. Those talons would come in really handy then.

NTUC Income ad degrading to property agents

From ‘NTUC Income’s comic ad falls flat’, 7 Sept 2013, article by Maryam Mokhtar, ST

NTUC Income has taken down and apologised for a controversial commercial which insinuated that property agents were untrustworthy. The ad was part of a new branding campaign launched last Monday, offering customers “transparent” advice on insurance policies.

But more than 130 comments, which included one property agent calling it “degrading”, on NTUC Income’s Facebook page led to the plug being pulled three days later on the online part of the campaign. Television ads for the campaign were also halted yesterday.

…The campaign involved one commercial featuring dubious salesmen from the real estate, construction and retail industries, who supposedly delivered less than promised. Another 32-second ad featured just the property agent lying about the perks of a unit to a potential buyer.

In one scene, the female property agent looks at the camera as she describes the flat as having a “rich history”. But the word “haunted” appears beside her. When she claims that the unit’s owner is “relocating”, the caption reads “loan sharks are coming”.

…Said netizen Huang Qi Heng on NTUC’s Facebook page: “Your advertisement is degrading our profession as realtors. We strive to protect our clients’ interests more than ours.”

Property agent Nur Mohammad Hafeez of CrestOne Realty told The Straits Times that the ads were “insulting” to those in the profession. “How can you sell a policy by singling out an industry and stereotyping them?”

Realty bites

Last year, NTUC Income took a more subtle approach to unscrupulous rogues in the service line, with their ‘Terms and Conditions’ TVC featuring a fishmonger being ‘economical with the truth’. It also featured the same ‘asterisk’ to denote ‘the fine print’.  No one complained about that ad stereotyping fish sellers as conmen then, probably because the scene was wildly exaggerated for ‘comic’ effect, something that was clearly lost on people complaining about the latest TVC.

The property narrative somehow seems too close to real life for comfort that it’s no longer funny. We’ve heard of people moving into houses secretly terrorised by Ah Longs or used to be the site of a gruesome murder-suicide because desperate agents would understandably withhold such details from buyers if they want to clinch sales. If not blatant lies, real estate terminology is also laden with euphemisms, from ‘cosy’ (small) and ‘has character’ (old) to the ever debatable ‘affordable’.

People in all sorts of business survive on selectively pitching their product and avoiding the obvious unmentionables, and if they were being totally honest with you they wouldn’t be able to pay for their own homes. Doctors don’t tell you all the rare side effects of a drug that could kill you, megachurch pastors don’t tell you what they do with your tithes and we all know how glib-tongued (and generous) politicians can be just before elections.

NTUC Income itself launched a ‘Think Orange’ campaign in 2011 which took potshots at unreliable insurance agents as a ‘negative demonstration’ of what buying policies shouldn’t be like. If a realty giant came up with its own ads depicting bad eggs as contrast for their staff, I doubt anyone would accuse them of degrading their own profession. You don’t see many property TV ads anyway, probably because they spend most of their marketing budget on annoying flyers or dolling agents up to look like Mediacorp celebrities.

Still, it’s a stark reminder that such scoundrels do exist not just in realty, but in REALITY in general. One reason why estate agents could be taking this snub personally is that housing is such a emotional, delicate topic that affects the lives of generations of Singaporeans. But it’s EXACTLY because housing matters so much that there will always be unethical salespeople exploiting the gullible for their own gain. It’s just unfortunate that when NTUC portrays it, it gets under people’s skin rather than just tickle them.

*The Blogger’s comments, opinions, observations, reflections, thoughts and information posted are the opinions of the Blogger only.

Gordon Ramsay hawker cook-off a publicity stunt

From ‘Hawker cook-off with Ramsay a publicity stunt’, 6 July 2013, Mailbag, ST Life

(Dr Michael Loh): Is the cook-off between foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay and Singapore’s so-called Top 3 favourite Hawker Heroes on Sunday (Gordon Ramsay Takes On Hawkers, Life!, July 4) an irresponsible publicity stunt?

The reasons given for this event, organised by SingTel, are wishy-washy. SingTel’s publicity materials say: “Recently, there’s been great concern regarding the decline of local hawker culture and whether Michelin-starred accreditation would encourage fresh blood to join the trade and preserve our beloved heritage.”

If you cut through the gibberish, anyone will know that this is just another publicity stunt for the telco. There is nothing wrong for companies, in the face of fierce competition, to clutch at straws to win customers. But, to have an expletive-spewing, abusive, megalomaniac – who is hardly a role model for our children – come to Singapore and take on our hawkers is, to me, a shameless act by SingTel.

I haven’t watched a single episode of Hell’s Kitchen, but just an uncensored swearing compilation alone would give you some idea of what a nasty, violent bastard Ramsay the TV personality is, cussing at women, spitting into food and short of bashing participants senseless with crockery. As entertainment, the boot camp-in-a-kitchen concept is a success, though the vulgarities tend to lack imagination after a while.  Fans believe that his volcanic personality and potty mouth is what makes the Gordon Ramsay brand, hence the mobbing at Maxwell hawker centre while he was chopping chicken at Maxwell’s Tian Tian (incidentally the same stall that fellow celebrity chef Anthony Bourdian promoted when he was here some years back).  Singaporeans gravitate to the rude ‘bad-boy’ celebrity chef the same way they idolise meanies Simon Cowell and Donald Trump on the Apprentice, though some of the hawkers interviewed had no idea who Ramsay was (‘Is he Singaporean?) or what, or who, Michelin is (Name of a KTV girl?).

Ramsay’s promo for the Hawker Heroes event was designed and scripted to irritate the most passionate hawker food lover, and nothing would please a Singaporean more than seeing a brash, haughty ang moh beaten at his own game. Yes, it’s a publicity stunt that banks on the clash of cultures – Obnoxious Western chef meets the heartland hawker – and I’m not sure how getting Ramsay to cook his own version of chicken rice, laksa or chili crab would help the hawker dilemma in any way whatsoever. If nothing is done to change the way we educate our kids or how they view employment, we will lose our heritage no matter how many top chefs we fly in to help boost it. You don’t get into the business to just to please the occasional celebrity visitor, but the people who keep you employed, Singaporeans themselves. In fact, Michelin maestros have been settling down rather nicely here since 2007 with their fancy brand extensions. If anything they’re inspiring fine dining as a profession rather than saving hawker cuisine from certain death. I, for one, wouldn’t eat at a ‘Michelin-starred’ char kuay teow stall because it’s patronising to tradition and utterly pretentious. What next, gold leaf on carrot cake?

But so what if it’s just shameless publicity? I didn’t even know this was Singtel sponsored until I read this letter. Singtel doesn’t need to sell its services anymore than the Army needs recruitment videos. This is, after all, the same telco that brought you the F1 and Singtel Grid girls. In fact, I’d rather a naughty celebrity chef fly in here to promote the country as a culinary destination, than them holding a energy-consuming, air-polluting monster night race. So far, reports of Ramsay’s behaviour have been described as ‘kind’ and somewhat humane and I doubt he’d throw a hissy fit at the chicken rice aunty and jeopardise his contract with Singtel and even reputation by giving her a heart attack. Interviewers would have to tread carefully when it comes to personal questions with the chef though, in case they get labelled as ‘old, ugly, lesbian pigs’ behind their backs.

As for whether children care enough about celebrity chefs to look up to them as role models I’m not sure. Ramsay’s popular TV shows sure as Hell don’t look appealing to the young and impressionable, though in the ‘F word’ he talks to his children about the harsh reality of where pork comes from. He even teaches them how to make Christmas Mint Chocolate Truffles in the clip below. Given his kitchen persona as a sadistic, arrogant bastard, Ramsay mentioning ‘honey’ and ‘chocolate’  in the same sentence is as creepy as a serial killer singing a nursery rhyme.

Postscript: Of the 3 dishes, Gordon won for chilli crab, which was the odd one out in the first place. Well, they had to give the man something.

Tiger Airways ditching leaping tiger logo

From ‘Tiger Airways rebranded to claw market share’, 4 July 2013, article by Karamjit Kaur, ST

BUDGET carrier Tiger Airways has ditched its leaping tiger and changed its name to Tigerair – all part of a major rebranding to boost market size and shareholder value.

The changes are not just cosmetic, said group chief executive officer Koay Peng Yen, as he unveiled the new look at Changi Airport yesterday.

“Customers who fly with us understand that we are not providing five-star service or fine dining. We are your hawker centre, but even as a hawker centre, you have to do things well,” he said.

If Tigerair is a ‘hawker centre’, then it shouldn’t matter what you do to your logo as long as you fly at dirt cheap prices does it? I’m also supposed get my food (i.e board a flight) FASTER at a hawker centre compared to  fine dining. Koay’s toothless analogy for budget services is similar to that of a Tiger Australia spokesperson who remarked that ‘You can’t expect a champagne experience on a beer budget’. For some companies, you’re likely to get the tap water experience for the price of beer.

Marketing experts claim that unlike household brands like Apple or Nike, dropping the pouncing tiger icon will not make a difference to customers who recognise airlines by name and quality of service rather than mascot artwork.  Others felt that the previous logo was a little ‘brash’ and ‘in-your-face’, like the cover of a box of ‘penis pills‘. Rival carrier AirAsia mocked the Tiger concept in 2010, releasing a full page ad that read ‘If Tigers were meant to Fly, they would be born with wings’. But who says you can’t have a land animal as a plane mascot? Here’s a sample of international carriers with animal logos OTHER than birds or Pegasuses.

Cheetah or Leopard, I’m not sure

Oryx. If your child can name this animal under ‘O’ instead of ‘Ox’, he’s a genius.

Dolphin Air is based in Dubai. DUBAI

But of course..

Not many bother to scrutinise our very own SIA’s logo to realise that it’s in fact a yellow bird, an icon that has been PATENTED since 1977 as part of the company trademark known as the SIA and BIRD DEVICE. In 1981, SIA took legal action against a US airline for using a design that uncannily resembles ours, the infringing party claiming that they’ve never heard of SIA nor seen its logo. Today, with our Singapore Girl in her sarong kebaya being the face the airline, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a yellow bird, Merlion or a seahorse on the plane’s tail fin( I always thought it was a stylised letter ‘Z’ though). Till this day, no one has identified what kind of bird it’s supposed to be, though it’s obviously a far cry from our ‘national bird’, the Crane.

‘Tiger’ as a brand name is rumoured to be the brainwave of RyanAir founder Tony Ryan’s seven-year old grandson. Other sources say it came from the old Malayan Airlines flying tiger logo, which doesn’t look out of place on a 70′s futurist prog-rock band’s album cover . If Tiger had stuck to this mutant flying beast with  WINGS and all (which also looks like the work of a 7 year old),  AirAsia would have had nothing to pick on.

With a name like Tiger, you’re asking for puns galore with or without the big cat on your logo. 10 years ago, Mr Brown imagined beer girls in minis on deck asking ‘Ai Lim Tiger, Mai?’. A year later, a ‘Catfight’ broke out between Tiger Airways and a UK company of the same name. The carrier ‘ROARS’ into new destinations and threatens to MAUL its competitors with cheaper rates. If you make it to senior management in the company, you’ve earned your ‘stripes’ (also the name of its VIP club). On it’s 8th anniversary in 2012, Tiger held a DEN party at Changi Airport T2. Even its inflight magazine is called ‘Tiger Tales’. I wonder if you get a tummy ache on board after eating their food they’d give you Tiger Balm. No, those puns aren’t going away with the rebranding. They’ll always CLAW their way back somehow.

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