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ASAS: ‘Pink Dot Cathay ad did not breach family values guidelines’

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore has clarified its stance on a controversial billboard advert for the LBGT festival Pink Dot at Cathay Cineleisure.

The advertising watchdog issued a statement yesterday saying the escalator ad, which bore the slogan ‘Supporting the freedom to love’, did not breach its guidelines on family values. Written by the ASAS chairman, Tan Sze Wee, the statement however said that ads in public spaces should be “prepared with a sense of responsibility to public sentiments”.

“As such, advertisers should avoid statements in advertisements that may contribute to heightened public sensitivities. This was the basis on which ASAS asked Cathay and Pink Dot to consider removing the tagline ‘Supporting the freedom to love’,” the statement continued.

Following comments by Pink Dot organisers that the ASAS’ recommendation stemmed from “complaints by a small group of people… who vociferously support the discrimination of Singapore’s LGBT community”, the body also said: “ASAS relies on public feedback as its primary regulatory mechanism and this also applies to the advertisement in question.”

It added: “Due to confidentiality reasons, however, ASAS is not at liberty to disclose the source of any feedback it receives.”

Tan’s letter also described the body’s decision-making process. Describing the council as being made up of representatives from marketers, agencies, media owners, government bodies, industry associations and other public organisations, he said that decisions are made by a majority vote – with the chairman having a casting vote.

Pink Dot has been contacted for comment on Tan’s public statement, but has yet to respond. Following the erection of the aforementioned escalator ad, Pink Dot launched another billboard campaign at the entrance of Cathay cinema.

However, this time the ad simply featured images of the event’s ambassadors — actor Ebi Shankara, singer Nathan Hartono and Singaporean paralympian Theresa Goh — and details of the event.

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