Ogilvy Singapore’s ‘Mums and maids’ campaign criticised for ‘shaming women’ and using social issue for PR

A campaign by Ogilvy Singapore for charity raised questions on Twitter this afternoon about the agency’s motivations for the campaign and its approach to encouraging Singaporeans with domestic helpers to give them a day off once a week.

One of Singapore’s most influential socio-political bloggers tweeted this afternoon that Ogilvy’s ‘Mums and Maids’ film “shamed women” by suggesting that Singaporean mothers don’t know their own children as well as their maids, and the campaign’s motivation was to show “how a big ad agency “gives back”.”

The two-minute film, which was reported on by Singapore’s top broadsheet the Straits Times with the headline ‘Film urges employers to give maids a weekly day off’, features a series of interviews with mothers, children and their domestic helpers.


Kirsten Han, pic: Twitter

Singapore blogger Kirsten Han, who writes for Yahoo and The Guardian, and is one of the founders of a campaign to free Amos Yee, the vlogger detained recently for posting a video critical of Lee Kuan Yew, tweeted: “I think what irks me most about @Ogilvy ad is how they’ll probably now point to it as an example of how a big ad agency “gives back”…

“…while actually not taking the effort to really understand the multi-faceted issues at play here. And shaming women to boot.”

Another poster on Twitter, Cod Satrusayang, remarked: “It’s just an ad agency trying to highlight how nurturing they are. A whole bunch of puke.”

Han responded that what irked her most about the campaign is that the agency will “get pats on the back for it.”

Ogilvy defended its campaign, tweeting that the most important objective was that domestic workers got the day off entitled to them.

Ogilvy Asia tweeted: “We hear you. It’s not everyones cup of tea. But the most important thing here is the end goal – workers getting their legal day off.”

Han took issue with the approach they are using.

In three tweets, she said: “Yes the end goal is important, but not through shaming other women; we’re not looking at root causes this way.”

“Plus, if the reason for FDWs [Foreign Domestic Workers] not getting a day off *isn’t* childcare, then you’re not actually addressing problem.”

“So how would that achieve the end goal?”

Han later Tweeted: “Did the mothers know what their interviews were going to be used for? Was it explained to them?”

Ogilvy had responded further at the time of publishing.


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