Ads should not mislead public

I was disturbed to read about the publicity stunt by the American video games company that also alarmed a lot of people here and abroad ("Publicity stunt by US video games company sparks online furore", Oct 1; and "Video game's publicity stunt a reckless act" by Mr Chan Yeow Chuan, Oct 2).

The advertisement was made worse by improvising a disaster scenario using names like "Singapore Marina", and giving the impression that it was genuine information from a news portal.

The advertisers had hoped to create maximum impact worldwide.

While some people considered the stunt "undeniably effective", I feel that this was a telling example of how things can spiral out of control quickly when false information is disseminated.

In a volatile region such as ours, which is challenged by the threat of terrorism and other elements, any alarming news, whether real or false, can have the undesirable effect of causing panic and heightening people's feelings of insecurity.

Fearing the worst, markets, the economy, social life and tourist inflows are likely to be adversely affected.

While I believe there was no ill intent involved in the tweeting of the particular advertisement, it is hard to imagine that anyone could conjure up a more appalling stunt.

To be law-abiding, socially responsible as well as economically effective, advertisers must consider advertising issues ethically and avoid publicising information that is offensive, deceptive, irresponsible and/or unfair.

They must remember that the intent of the advertisement should be to inform and never to offend, discredit or unfairly attack any individual, organisation or country.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)