SINGAPORE - 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."
STB executive director of communications and industry marketing Oliver Chong told The Straits Times the video was produced by Philippine TV network ABS-CBN to customise content for the country's audiences.
"We thank readers for their feedback on the video and acknowledge that some aspects of it could have been done better," he said.
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 Mr Chong said it was withdrawn because "it was not resonating well with audiences".
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?"
Mr Chong said that when the video was shared on STB's Facebook page for the Philippines, it attracted more than 3,400 "likes" in the first week and garnered around 900 "largely positive" comments.
Netizens in the Philippines, however, were unimpressed when they gave their responses to The Straits Times.
A creative director with one of the country's biggest advertising companies, who asked to remain anonymous, said the video "takes you out from appreciating the tourism part", adding: "Sans the dialogue and its poor audio dubbing, the visuals about Singapore lack the appeal to make one rush into buying a ticket for a vacation there."
Mr Ricardo Velarde, a magazine and newspaper designer, said: "If it has gone viral, it probably worked. It really depends on the target market. If they're aiming at middle-class Filipinos, then the video really comes off as overly dramatic."
An ABS-CBN representative did not respond to requests for comment.
Dr Seshan Ramaswami, associate professor of marketing education at the Singapore Management University (SMU), said that even though the execution of the video might have been in line with "soap operas and ad executions" in the Philippines, it is challenging to create an advertisement that is appealing to both Singaporeans and specific markets.
"With the Internet increasingly gaining access into the deep reaches of the region, it is hard to hide an ad meant for a particular nation or segment from the rest of the world," he said. "The result is this mini-fiasco for the STB ad among Singaporeans, who were never meant to see it or react to it."
Meanwhile, spoofs of the video have been posted online.
Dr Michael Netzley, a media researcher and academic director of executive development at SMU, said the original video should not have been taken down "unless absolutely necessary".
"If you take the video down, especially while people are paying attention, a fair number of netizens will get upset," he said.
Assistant Professor Liew Kai Khiun, who teaches cinema and broadcast studies at Nanyang Technological University, said: "As Singapore matures as a nation, Singaporeans are increasingly conscious about how they are being represented to the world. The sloppy production of this video can affect the image of the country."
The STB, which has produced similar promotions for countries such as China and Thailand, added that it welcomes the public to share ideas on how it can showcase Singapore to the rest of the world.
This article was published on April 9 in The Straits Times.
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