Singapore tourism responds to criticism of ad ‘so bad it will go viral’, blames the Philippines

STB adSingapore Tourism Board has issued a public statement in response to a volley of public derision made against a three-minute video for the tourism body that was circulating on the internet yesterday.

The Singapore Tourism Board has moved to distance itself from the video, which a local news site described as ‘so bad it will go viral’, saying that is was produced in the Philippines by the national broadcaster ABS-CBN.

STB also defended the popularity of the video, saying that it had attracted 3,400 likes in the first week after it was posted on the tourism body’s Philippine Facebook page and prompted around 900 comments, “largely positive.”

The statement from the Singapore Tourism Board executive director, communications and industry marketing, Oliver Chong, reads:

We thank readers for their interest in how STB promotes Singapore overseas.

This video was produced for the Philippines by Philippine network ABS-CBN, in an effort to customise content for this audience.

When shared on STB’s Facebook page for the Philippines, the video attracted over 3,400 likes in the first week and garnered some 900 comments, largely positive.

Nevertheless, we thank readers for their feedback on the video and acknowledge that some aspects of it could have been done better.

At the end of the statement, STB invited the public to share their ideas for how it can “showcase the Singapore we love to the rest of the world”. STB’s current brand agency is JWT and it uses M&C Saatchi to target the business community.

Soon after Singapore news site posted a story about the video yesterday, STB came under a barrage of criticism for the work and promptly removed it from its YouTube page.

When asked why the video was removed, STB told Mumbrella: “We often share our marketing videos on the STB YouTube channel. At the end of its TV run in the Philippines, we decided to also share this particular video on YouTube. We subsequently removed it as it was not resonating well with audiences.”

The video has already spawned a number of parodies, including a poster with the headline Eat, Shop and have Sex.


  1. Tammy
    8 Apr 14
    1:57 pm

  2. Inviting the public to share ideas? No doubt they want them for free as well.

    Look what happened when they got ABS/CBN to their video…some clients never learn.

    Why not ask JWT for a decent idea…we havent seen any work since the account moved.

  3. Rob
    8 Apr 14
    2:28 pm

  4. Still not a patch on this gem from 2007.

    My personal favourite car-crash video of all time.

  5. Bet V. Dalton
    8 Apr 14
    5:21 pm

  6. What do you expect? The ABS/CBN produced the commercial?
    It was an absolutely boring story! It wouldn’t tempt me to go to Singapore. Don’t play it again, Sam!

  7. Gina Del Rosario
    8 Apr 14
    5:46 pm

  8. I doubt ABS-CBN made this. The Singapore Director must be on drugs.

  9. Juanmarketing
    8 Apr 14
    6:50 pm

  10. Again, the problem is not the production but the emptiness in the concept / idea…

  11. krangsquared
    8 Apr 14
    8:25 pm

  12. The dubbing sounds so bad, it *must* be deliberate! It’s like the English dubbing on HK martial arts flicks from the 80s, but not as over-the-top.

    If ABS-CBN made this, I’m pretty sure the script was made in Singapore. If Filipinos made this, it would have been *way* more dramatic. Close-up shots of hands holding, eyes looking at one another, like a karaoke video. You would have had a saccharine string section coming in at the moment that the man opens the ‘gift’ with the pregnancy test.

    This video is so stilted, government-committee approved, exciting as dishwashing liquid, but less bubbly.

  13. Timothy Tang
    8 Apr 14
    8:47 pm

  14. I actually like it. It is not so rushing like the other commercials. Maybe it is suited for romantic people who like things slow. And I have made and edited videos before unlike unqualified people who don’t have such experience.

  15. Timothy Tang
    8 Apr 14
    9:09 pm

  16. I actually like it. It is not so rushing like the other commercials. Maybe it is suited for romantic people who like things slow. I have made and edited videos before unlike unqualified people who don’t have such experience to comment…

  17. X
    8 Apr 14
    11:52 pm

  18. Who cares if you’ve edited videos before. This is a promotional video, not some artsy film. If the video fails at its job at eliciting positive reactions, it is bad.

  19. Bea
    9 Apr 14
    2:31 am

  20. Forget the boringness of the video. Am I the only one bothered that the girl brought her used pregnancy test around for at least an entire day? Ewww. Not to mention, she had no bag, so your guess is as good as mine as to where she was concealing it the whole time.

  21. Timothy Tang
    9 Apr 14
    2:37 am

  22. To X, I care whether or not you have edited videos before. Even a promotional video also required video editing, sound editing, camera angles, lighting, colour adjustment, make-up. Has the video failed at its job to showcase the sights of Singapore? I don’t think so. Those who think that the video has failed are obviously blind and retarded.

    The video is realistic unlike most of the superficial advertisements on TV. If people want to compare it against those fake ads on TV then it only shows how fake they are and distant from reality.

  23. Timothy Tang
    9 Apr 14
    2:54 am

  24. Fault finding people are those who do not have an exciting social/sex life so they cannot relate to the romantic themes in the video.

  25. Bet V. Dalton
    9 Apr 14
    6:36 am

  26. To Rob who posted on 08 April:

    Man, please do not share that video you recommended – It is soooo boring! No video-audio lock.I wouldn’t hire them if they were trying to pitch my account.

  27. Bet V. Dalton
    9 Apr 14
    7:32 am

  28. I agree with Juanmarketing.

    To start with, after a client brief, the agency must prepare a Communication Plan to target their intended audience. In JWT, we call this a T-Plan. First, we identify the primary audience and maybe, a secondary market, too. Then, we deliberate a way to capture this audience through their senses, their mind, and their feelings. Afterwhich, we recommend the method to reach our primary audience.

    To start with, you need a BRIGHT IDEA. But, sometimes, this idea may evolve before the actual production. There maybe changes or revisions to that idea. Once the client and agency agree, the production starts.

    The single idea becomes a conglomeration of ideas. So, if a fault must be struck, it should be the people who did the brief… created & approved the concept… and produced the commercial. Yet, there is no excuse to air a truly dud commercial like this.

  29. Yna Sorongon
    9 Apr 14
    11:11 am

  30. I think we could be a little bit more careful with our headlines. I didn’t really get that the STB blamed the Philippines. It read “This video was produced for the Philippines by Philippine network ABS-CBN, in an effort to customize content for this audience.” Let’s not ruffle feathers unnecessarily.

    Furthermore, wouldn’t the concept come from the brand agency? STB would have approved it prior to production. Production will only follow what has been approved by client. Also, I’d like to think that representatives from the brand agency and STB would be present during production for monitoring of the approved concept, shotlists, scripts, etc.

    Just my two cents.:) Peace!

  31. Rob
    9 Apr 14
    1:04 pm

  32. To Bet V. Dalton … you do know I was taking the piss out of it, don’t you?

    And the reasons you state aren’t the reasons I wouldn’t be motivated by it – they’re just additional reasons that would reaffirm my decision.

  33. Karmachameleon
    9 Apr 14
    1:25 pm

  34. My head’s going to explode. There is so much stupidity out there.

    “Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.” – Frank Zappa

  35. HB Pencil
    9 Apr 14
    2:18 pm

  36. STB still signed off on this. They are as responsible for it as the production co they engaged.

    Remember this is the same client who signed off on the ‘get lost’ campaign and TVCs that were aimed at Australians.

  37. Ashley
    10 Apr 14
    1:46 am

  38. Riddle me this…

    Why go through the motions of a costly pitch exercise and pick the most creative agency in your opinon if you can’t use them to do the most basic of things….which is what a corporate video is. During the pitch the winning agency should have demonstrated that they have a strong regional network….so isn’t it reasonable to assume that their manila office would be able to deliver filipino flavour as well as respect the strategic and aesthetic integrity of the brand

    ABS/CBN might be able to deliver a filipino flavour in the storyline but it is the agency that is the brand custodian.

    A year or so ago STB changed agencies and we still dont know what the new global campaign is.

    Has it been farmed out to nbc for america, xinhua for china and zee tv for India?

  39. Ex Black Sheep
    10 Apr 14
    9:29 am

  40. To be fair to JWT, the tension between STB HQ and its regional in-market offices has been going on for decades.
    Each in-market office swears they know better and constantly fight for creative independence.

    This is compounded by the absence of a global brand campaign following the pitch, approved by HQ, created and executed.

    Heck-we don’t even know what the new tagline is.

    Like it or hate it, YourSingapore was a tight global campaign with little deviation across markets, segments and platforms.
    What’s more, it also got ‘buy in’ from Singaporeans-well at least more than this hellspwan.

    If more tactical initiatives start popping all over the world, one could argue that there’s no need for a global campaign, STB HQ or JWT in this free-for-all.
    They might as well downsize STB, rent out the office space and give money to each market to do tactical ads.

    The fact that it was posted on the STB website suggests HQ approval and for that, their judgement has to be questioned.

    After all, clients do get what they deserve.

  41. ejuan bizcotti
    10 Apr 14
    3:31 pm

  42. Any publicity is good publicity. What about “Get lost in singapore?” that’s a “piece of WOrk!”

  43. Richo
    11 Apr 14
    10:44 am

  44. My mother is filipino and the video reminds me of the cheesy, sentimental filipino romance movies she likes to watch.
    If the campaign was aimed for a filipino demographic, I think it was successful. Filipinos like that sort of stuff.

  45. May
    13 Apr 14
    8:17 pm

  46. I think a tourism board video / poster should be reasonably executed as it reflect the image of the country. Be it whether it is executed by which production in which country, the one who give the final approval on the story, director, models is still the STB board marketing management team. If the ad agency / production house is not able to present better models / actors / directors for the job, it is your duty to work out a better budget for that before going for cheap deal. And whether a video is good enough to be aired, I think the management is the final person to upload them on their site / facebook / youtube.

    You pay peanut, you get monkey, and this is the result you get in return because the ad do not sell your product in a good way. It is a cycle reaction.

    We should stop all these low budget and bad creative art work as it truly affect our image.

    On facebook, people like it because it can be BAD or GOOD, they share when it is funny in a bad way too. LIKE do not mean that it is well done. LIKE means they noticed that (be it good or bad).

    We click LIKE on certain important news like missing plane, to bring awareness to people to take note of important things happening. But that do not mean we like that plane to go missing.

  47. May
    13 Apr 14
    8:26 pm

  48. Why spend the money to fly talents that cannot act, and a group of crew & director to Singapore to film this video? In terms of costing, isn’t it cheaper to pay a local production to do the shoot here without all the money going into the wrong expenses (airticket + hotel + travel expenses) and result in poor quality result?

    Cheap pitch do not = good quality work.

    I do not think it is rocket science to figure out simple cost like that.

  49. James
    18 Apr 14
    2:08 pm

  50. If this ad targeted audience is for philippines to attract filipino’s to take a tour in singapore i can say the backgrounds still a bit ok, the philippine culture is there but for quality of the scripts, i think some of the people focus on the wrong topic which is pregnancy but the real topic here is attract filipino to celebrate special events or ceremony in their life events. but i dont like last part of showing the pt at the end of the video.

    I know that some of people will its too cheap, too sweet, well if you been in philippines, you will know the most of the filipinos are sweet and loving people and just like presented to this video. You cannot find any place like mbs,marina bay and other sceneries shown in this video that the actor acts like that. asked your self if you go in the place that you never seen before do you think will you act in the way ?

  51. Bet V. Dalton
    19 Apr 14
    7:42 am

  52. Currently, at the moment, Singapore has a campaign in Sydney called “GET LOST” in Singapore. Viewing it, I had an ambivalent reaction to the ad. They had talents (obviously Singaporean Chinese and Indian nationals) who tell the viewer “Get Lost”. At first, my reaction was ‘You want me to get lost? Who the hell are you?” Then, after about 5 seconds, it explains that you (can) ‘get lost in Singapore’. My reaction to that ad changed. I, then, understood what they meant to say “come to Singapore and get lost in what Singapore offers”. It caught my attention, alright! But it did not convince me to travel to Singapore. I have this conception of Singapore — it’s very clean, highly-ordered, very stalely… but boring. But that’s my opinion only. Maybe I’ll try to see Singapore sometime.


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