NETS apologises for E-Pay ad that was panned for being racially insensitive

PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore

SINGAPORE — Electronic payment service provider NETS has apologised for the recent advertisement by E-Pay which showed Chinese Mediacorp artiste Dennis Chew being depicted as four different characters, including an Indian man with artificially darkened skin and a Malay woman wearing a headscarf.

The advertisement was taken down from the E-Pay website after being widely criticised as being racially insensitive.

It also sparked a controversial YouTube music video by social media personality Preetipls and her brother Subhas Nair, which was taken down after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) had deemed it to be “objectionable on grounds of public interest and national harmony”.

The original ad. (Screenshot from Twitter)
The current ad. (SCREENSHOT: E-Pay website)

NETS said in its media statement on Wednesday (31 July), “NETS would like to apologise for any hurt that its campaign has caused. The intent of the campaign was to communicate that e-payment is for everyone.

“The campaign was in connection with the unified e-payment initiative, a multi-agency effort led by Enterprise Singapore, where NETS was appointed as the master acquirer to handle payment transactions and drive adoption of e-payment in small food businesses.”

E-Pay is a government initiative led by Enterprise Singapore, the National Environment Agency, the Housing and Development Board, and JTC Corporation.

The four organisations appointed NETS last year to oversee the implementation of the e-payment system. E-Pay aims to roll out cashless payments in hawker centres, coffee shops, and canteens.

Creative agency Havas had worked with The Celebrity Agency, Mediacorp's celebrity management unit, for the advertisement.

The two agencies issued a joint statement on 28 July to apologise for “any hurt that was unintentionally caused” by the advertisement.

Related stories:

COMMENT: Let's learn to deal with minor racial squabbles on our own

Police, IMDA advise public not to share Preetipls' video due to investigations

Subhas Nair, brother of Preetipls, removed from CNA series and related articles following rap video

‘Stern action’ needed in response to Preetipls’ ‘disturbing’ video: Amrin Amin

Music video by Preetipls has 'crossed the line' by insulting Chinese people: Shanmugam

Police investigating 'offensive' music video by social media personality Preetipls

‘This is legit brownface’: Ad by Singapore’s e-payment solutions initiative attracts backlash