After receiving criticism from members of the religious community, Samsung Singapore has pulled an ad campaign film that featured a drag queen lovingly hugging her mother.
Hardly controversial stuff, but Samsung bowed to the pressure before issuing a statement on their Singapore Facebook page saying:
“We are aware of the feedback that one of our recent campaign films for our wearable products may be perceived as insensitive and offensive to some members of our local community. We acknowledge that we have fallen short in this instance, and have since removed the content from all public platforms.”
The brand, which notably didn’t mention which campaign they were referring to, “Listen To Your Heart“, then went on to affirm that it “believes that innovation and growth are driven by diversity and inclusivity. We will certainly be more mindful and thorough in considering all perspectives and viewpoints for our future marketing campaigns.”
Mixed messaging at its finest.
Criticism of the campaign
In “Listen To Your Heart“, we see people listening to 3 or 4 pieces of music, before listening to a voice-recorded message from someone close to them who has wanted to say something personal to them but never did.
The clever creative idea, conceptualized by Samsung ad agency Cheil, was to measure the person’s heartbeat in reaction to what they heard from a loved one.
Though released more than a month ago, the criticism eventually worked its way to the mainstream, with one commenter, according to a Twitter screenshot, also adding the possible involvement of “foreign entities” for good measure:
“It’s really unbecoming. It disrupts the harmony within the Malay-Muslim community. It may even be construed as foreign entities attempting to involve themselves in our local politics.”
So apparently, Samsung aired an ad featuring a Muslim mum expressing support for her drag queen son and WAAPD members were so swift to act that they've already taken the ad down before anyone else could really see it 😂 pic.twitter.com/25TYVRscwO
— Jeremy Sim (@mimi_dumbright) January 19, 2022
Others expressed support for ad campaign, with one user saying: “Among some family and friends, sense and sensibility do exist. To LGBT friends facing outright discrimination, you have a friend in me.”
Pink Dot Sg is a non-profit group representing LGBTQ+ in Singapore, posted on their Facebook page, “To date, it is still unclear what these people were offended by – the fact that LGBTQ+ people exist in Singapore, or that we are deserving of loving relationships, or both.”
Samsung’s ad agency Cheil responds
Anand Vathiyar, managing director at Cheil Singapore, told Marketing Interactive that the campaign was aimed at all walks of life and their right to express feelings to their loved ones.
“What is heartening is that for everyone who is getting politically correct about this episode, there are many others, especially younger Singaporeans, who seem to get that we can do better to listen to each other with due care, empathy, respect, and consideration,” said Vathiyar.
The ad is still available for viewing over on Ad Forum.