10 of the worst Singapore government ads ever

MDA rapIt is a curious irony that a government that has been gyrating its hips to attract creative businesses as it looks to become Asia’s most powerful advertising hub, is itself a producer of advertising that is often unfathomably terrible.

Yesterday, we saw an ad for Singapore’s tourism board get so much grief in social media that the authorities deleted it from their YouTube channel in the hope that it wouldn’t go viral. Which, of course, helped it go viral amid a blaze of headlines such as ‘The ad STB didn’t want you to see’.

But the three-minute STB video wasn’t the worst ad the Singapore government has ever made. It wasn’t even the worst ad it’s made this year. So we thought we’d take a look at some of the other howlers to come out off the production line of Asia’s richest government in recent times.

Here’s that Singapore Tourism Board ad, in case you haven’t seen it yet (which STB has hinted was bad because it was made in the Philippines).

Possibly the Singapore government’s most famous ever attempt to look creative – which like STB’s ad also went viral for the wrong reasons – came in 2007, when the Media Development Authority made its most senior civil servants perform a rap.

Less than a year ago, Singapore’s water authority, the Public Utilities Board, produced a public service film that was accused of containing paedophilic undertones because it featured a character called Water Wally who creeps up on a young boy in the shower. Singaporeans were also mystified for being expected to embrace a curious manoeuvre called the Water Wally Shower Dance.

National Trades Union Congress. NTUC’s version of The Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da to the tune of “O, Cheaper Better Faster” from 2009 helpfully comes with subtitles, so you can all sing along.

Youth Olympics. When Singapore hosted the Youth Olympics in 2010, JJ Lin, a local singer, gave birth to some bizarre hand movements that the authorities hoped would catch on.

National Day Parade. The most patriotic day of the year is also a time when the nation cringes in anticipation of what sort of anthem the government will expect them to sing; 2012 was not a good year.

National Day Parade. Neither was 2013, for that matter.

MediaCorp. So reporters from MediaCorp’s government-friendly media outlets “set people thinking”, do they? Right. Curious that MediaCorp uses pretty much the same strategy as the military and police to attract new recruits.

MediaCorp: I set people thinking

Singapore Army. Be empowered by a career in the army, ladies. And here’s some make-up. This campaign did not go down to well with a women’s right group.

Army Women's Seminar

Singapore Armed Forces Reservists Association. The authorities’ latest flirtation with controversy was this ad for an army recreation centre, which appears to suggest that gyms are great places for men to perv at the ladies.


Seen worse? I’d love to see it, and will add it to this article.

Robin Hicks; robin.hicks@mumbrella.asia

So, here are a few more from you…

Land Transport Authority. A rap about how to behave on a train.

Land Transport Authority. How to ‘Love Your Ride’.


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