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Fallout of botched Huawei promotion could mean greater scrutiny for its future advertising 

The Advertising Standards Association of Singapore has told Mumbrella that feedback on future advertising from Huawei will be monitored – a move that comes after a promotion targeted at senior citizens, backfired badly.

Aimed to coincide with Singapore’s 54th National Day, Huawei had offered the Y6 Pro 2019 at $54, a massive discount from its retail price of $198. The promotion led to huge queues outside outlets and irate customers, as stocks quickly ran out. 

Apart from expressing their displeasure on social media, many of those affected approached the ASAS.

Asked about the action it intended to take against Huawei considering the complaints were about a promotion that was already over, ASAS chairman professor Ang Peng Hwa said: “Where the advertisement has ceased, ASAS will monitor feedback on the advertiser’s future advertisements. 

“ASAS can instruct the advertiser to amend or remove an advertisement that breaches the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP) and not re-use it in the form that was complained of. 

“The media owners and agencies that are members of ASAS will also decline to carry the unamended advertisement again.” ASAS members include Singapore PRess Holdings, Mediacorp, M1, Singtel and Starhub.

 

In response to questions from Mumbrella on the nature of complaints and course of action taken, Hwa said: “As of July 30, ASAS has received 10 feedback on the Huawei promotion in question. 

“ASAS is currently engaging Huawei on the feedback, in view of the guidelines of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP) on the availability of products and bait advertising.”

The provisions stipulate that an advertiser should have an adequate supply of products to meet foreseeable demand generated by an ad or promotion. 

The provisions also said: “The advertiser should make clear any limitations of the product’s availability unless such limitation is inherent in the nature of the product (eg theatre tickets).

“Products that cannot be supplied should not be advertised as a way to assess potential demand.”

The provision against ‘bait advertising’ said: “Advertisers should not seek to entice consumers into a retailer’s premise with no real prospect of selling the advertised or promoted goods at the price offered.”

Responding to a query on whether its strictures still applied to a promotion that had been widely widely publicised on social media and WhatsApp, Hwa said: “We can clarify that the SCAP applies to all advertisements in Singapore, regardless of medium. 

“Thus, advertisements on social media and private messaging services are within ASAS’s purview.”

Asked about its response to the ASAS, a spokesperson from Huawei said: “Our legal team is handling this directly with ASAS.”

The mobile phone brand which was recently in the news after becoming engaged in a trade dispute with the US has gone into damage control mode.

It intends making good by offering customers who registered on the dates of the promo a discount coupon of $100. It will apparently start issuing these coupons from August 2.

The company also pointed out that it had clearly mentioned in the terms and conditions of the promotion that it was valid until stocks last.

A spokesperson for Huawei said: “I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that all ads that were distributed prior to the promotion had indicated ‘Terms and Conditions apply’ and ‘while stocks last’.

“However we understand that there were some media articles that did not indicate this information and had led some to interpret otherwise. 

“We acknowledge that this should have been thoroughly checked on our end to ensure that information through media channels have been communicated clearly.”

The full statement from Huawei said: “We want to make it right.

“We are sorry for the disappointment and distress caused to our customers over the weekend.

“We had prepared approximately 2,000 handsets but clearly underestimated the overall customer demand, resulting in a poor consumer experience for those trying to buy the phone.

“We did not carefully consider our customers’ well-being enough and should have been better prepared for this promotion.

“To make things right and show our commitment to our customers, we will reach out to the 5,000 customers that have registered at our stores from July 26 – 28 with a $100 Huawei smartphone voucher. 

“The team will be contacting these individuals within two weeks from August 2.

“It is our customers’ loyalty and trust that continue to contribute to Huawei’s success in Singapore and we will continue to provide the best products and experience as always. 

“I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that all ads that were distributed prior to the promotion had indicated ‘Terms and Conditions apply’ and ‘while stocks last’ – as attached in Wanbao ad sent on 25 July and online here.

“However we understand that there were some media articles that did not indicate this information and had led some to interpret otherwise. We acknowledge that this should have been thoroughly checked on our end to ensure that information through media channels have been communicated clearly.”

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