Tuition agency ordered to stop ‘objectionable’ ad

Tuition agency ordered to stop ‘objectionable’ ad
Education Alive’s advertisement has been met by parents’ objections
Parents say advertisement, which shows image of child trapped under vehicle, is morbid and inappropriate
Published: 4:13 AM, March 27, 2014
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SINGAPORE — The advertising authority ordered a tuition agency to stop placing an advertisement that shows a child trapped under a vehicle, after parents denounced its graphic content.

The full-page advertisement by Education Alive to promote a workshop carries a picture of a child crushed under a vehicle beneath the words “Breaking news: Child trapped under 4 tonnes truck!”

It also asked “concerned parents” of children taking the GCE O- and A-Level examinations this year what they would do to “save” their child.

The advertisement was published in this month’s issue of POP Club, a magazine by local bookshop chain Popular Bookstore.

In response to queries from TODAY, Associate Professor Tan Sze Wee, Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), said that while advertisements do not require prior clearance by the authority, advertisers should adhere to the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), “whose premise is that all advertisements should be legal, decent, honest and truthful”.

He said that under the code, the advertisement was “objectionable” and “not deemed as decent”.

The SCAP states that “advertisements should not contain anything that is offensive to the standards of decency prevailing among those who are likely to be exposed to them”.

Assoc Prof Tan said the authority “will be conveying to the advertisers that the advertisement is not acceptable and has to be ceased”.

When TODAY contacted Education Alive founder Sherina Koh, she said the ASAS has emailed her and that she would be calling the authority to understand its point of view and “what’s not working” with the advertisement.

The advertisement, designed by a freelance designer in India whom she had found online, was “definitely not meant to create fear”, Ms Koh said, adding that she was surprised by the controversy it has caused.

Its intent was to convey to parents that “their child’s future is a matter of life and death” and that parents “can literally change their child’s destiny if they wanted to”, she explained.

It was important that parents believed in their children and allowed them to dare to dream, she added.

However, parents TODAY spoke to questioned the advertisement, calling it morbid and inappropriate.

A 35-year-old teacher and mother who declined to be named said she was “flabbergasted and disgusted by how lowly this advertisement is, which has obviously no regard for life by alluding the need to save a kid crushed under a truck to acing an exam”.

Senior marketing executive Samantha Lee, 33, who has two sons aged two and five, said it was “very wrong to use such a picture as part of their marketing campaign”.

“What kind of message are they trying to put across? That if I do not attend this workshop, my child will die? It’s insulting to parents,” she said.

Ms Koh thanked the parents for their feedback and said Education Alive would review the advertisement to see if “its essence has been lost” on its audience.

“If there are parents who, after reading our advertisement (developed) any sense of fear, we wish for them to transform this fear into positive action that will bring them smiles in the future,” she added.

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