Local actress-host Vivian Lai may not have been paid a $1 million endorsement fee for Japanese beverage brand Pokka after all.
Since news broke last week that Lai's husband Alain Ong was recently suspended from his position as chief executive of the company, much attention has been focused on Lai's decade-long relationship with Pokka as its ambassador.
In 2012, it was reported that the Mediacorp artiste inked a $1 million deal to be the brand ambassador for the beverage maker.
However, a spokesperson for Mediacorp told Lianhe Zaobao in a report last Saturday that the million-dollar sum was pure speculation. It added that it did not refute the 2012 report because its artistes' fees are kept strictly confidential.
Zaobao's source, who did not wish to be named, told the paper that a seven-figure asking price would be considered highly impressive even for an A-list Mediacorp star. The usual endorsement fee for a local artiste would be around $50,000 to $60,000.
In an interview with the Chinese daily, local film-maker Royston Tan revealed that production costs for a high-end commercial would typically cost between $300,000 and $400,000, including the artiste's endorsement fee.
The endorsement fee for showbiz A-listers would also come up to a six-figure sum, added Tan, who has worked on commercials with top local stars like Kit Chan and Gurmit Singh. In contrast, a budget commercial without a brand ambassador could cost less than 100,000 to produce.
Lai's alleged sky-high endorsement fee is even more unlikely, reported Lianhe Wanbao, after it uncovered that she had received a "mere five-figure sum" to endorse Pokka in the 2017 local movie, The Fortune Handbook.
Pokka was one of the main sponsors of the film, which starred Li Nanxing, Christopher Lee and Mark Lee.
According to the Chinese evening daily, the 41-year-old mother of two had explained in earlier interviews that when she first inked the deal with Pokka, her husband was just a "small executive" and not a key decision-maker.
The former Star Search winner posited that the company must have heard that one of their employee's wife is an artiste, so contacted her hoping for a "good deal".
Lai has yet to release a statement on the matter so far, and she has not responded to calls nor texts to her mobile phone, reports added.