Faux Pas advertising and media in Singapore…and France

In almost every big city in the world, there is always a JCDecaux billboard advertising something completely unnecessary in an uncreative way. These days, Singapore seems to have outdone itself in coming up with not just the most absurd advertisements, but the most ridiculous websites and television shows as well.

It is always a perilous task to criticize your host country, as you might quickly become considered an arrogant, ungrateful, short-term immigrant. Therefore, I will complete my expression of astonishment regarding Singapore’s “creativity” by pointing out that we French are as equally capable of producing terrible media.

The first example deals with the launch of a new university, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), which will collaborate with the prestigious American university, MIT – ah, the three magical letters that make all scientific nerds drool.

As the position of women in the technological sphere continues to be undermined by the predominant belief that it is a man’s world, the university’s advertising campaign attempted to stand out by pointing out that women have contributed to this sector. But why, out of all the inventions that women have played a role in creating, did SUTD decide to pick such a highly advanced device – a stick that goes back and forth on a transparent screen? Because the windscreen wiper is an impressive invention?!

And the message on the advertisement would be more appropriate for a “drink or drive” campaign targeting the rehabilitation of Russian lesbian truck drivers:

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“It took a woman to show us how to drive home in the rain.”

But this will always remain the biggest faux pas of all:

It is from a French online clothing company called “la Redoute”.

What do you see behind the cute and innocent kids? A naked man – WHAT ELSE!

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I recently came across a website called Stomp that is hosted by the Strait Times, the only Singaporean newspaper “privately owned” by the government.

There is a section which allows people to post anonymously pictures of things they have seen in the city that shocked them.

It has become a free space for denunciation, indirectly encouraged by the authorities. I have included a few examples to show what happens when you allow Homo Sapiens to comment on whatever they want, without having to reveal their identities.

In the French consciousness, the word denunciation brings us back 70 years, when one part of France was under the Nazi occupation, and the other under the Vichy government – a collaborator’s regime . At that time, the authorities highly encouraged it, and by the end of the war, historians estimate that three to five MILLION denunciation letters had been sent to these governments – weren’t we being patriotic!

Sarkozy has tried to bring denunciation back into fashion, but has quite failed to do so as – to protest against this manoeuvre – two IT specialists created a satirical website called delation-gov.fr (denunciation-gov.fr) , perfectly mimicking our French government’s websites. Although the platform looks serious, its content is completely absurd. For instance, you can denounce someone by voting about whether he/she has left-winger genes; is “bizarre”; reads books; is tanned all year round; has foreign friends; has no dog etc… The creators were truly surprised when they received real denunciation emails, photos and audio recordings. Obviously, these delators do not belong to the category that “reads books”.

Examples of Stomp delation messages: N.B: In the metro in Singapore, eating and drinking are prohibited.

STOMPer calvin spotted these two students in uniform drinking on the train.

The STOMPer wrote:

“These two boys was talking loudly and making a fuss on the train, hogging the reserved seat and drinking bubble tea.

“How does this reflect on the school?

“Students can’t even follow such simple rules!

“I really worry about the future of teens nowadays.

“What has the school taught them?”

Unacceptable behaviour: Secondary student sleeps soundly during class

STOMPer Gloria spotted this secondary school student sleeping on his desk during a lesson and felt his behaviour was not acceptable.

Said the STOMPer:

“This boy was sleeping when a lesson was going on.

“I don’t know for how long but this is definitely an unacceptable behaviour!

“The teacher noticed him and told him to wake up.”

STOMPer Claire noticed this woman, apparently in her 50s, dressed in a translucent top that exposed her bra for all to see.

The STOMPer wrote:

“I was eating my lunch at one of the food centres in Pasir Ris Central and spotted this auntie, who looked like she was in her 50s, queuing to buy food.

“But the problem is, she was wearing a translucent shirt and exposing her bra strap.

“It is not very appropriate because there were kids around during the lunch time peak hour.

“She was probably not aware that people could see her bra strap because she seemed indifferent to the stares of other people eating in the food centre.”

More ludicrous stories can be found at this website http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/singaporeseen/

Finally, my last rant against Singapore’s creativity is about a new reality TV show. It is internationally recognized that Singaporean’s professional football teams are not worth a kopeck. So, logically, amateur football players in Singapore are worth one Zimbabwean dollar – I know that this money does not exist anymore, but at the time it did, it was under a 231,000,000% inflation rate. Why is it that someone, completely unironically, thought that filming amateur football players would bring in some cash?! On that one, I am sorry, but in France we do not have an equivalent.

But some singaporeans can have great humor:
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