Netizens have slammed television actress Rebecca Lim, 29, who is in the prime of her career, for her Instagram post last Friday morning in which she said she was "retiring".
The post turned out to be a publicity stunt involving insurance company NTUC Income, to remind young Singaporeans to plan financially for retirement.
A video of her clarifying the situation, posted last Friday night on her Facebook page, had garnered over 440 comments at press time, mostly criticising the star, although she had supporters too.
Facebook user JC Jaycee Ho wrote: "What level of trustworthiness does one retain when you release a statement to say you are retiring and on the same day, say you are not?"
While Ms Lim said during a media conference call on Friday night that she was "sorry for any misunderstanding" but would not have done things differently, experts felt the stunt was ill-conceived and poorly executed.
Rebecca Lim's Instagram post on Friday
Hi everyone. I've decided to do something that will change my life. I have been thinking about it for a while now as I know it has to be done. Yes, I am retiring. I know you may have questions for me and I will answer them real soon. Meanwhile, be happy for me.
Dr Michael Netzley, academic director of executive development at the Singapore Management University, said: "The entire stunt relies on misleading people. Why would I want to trust my hard-earned retirement funds to an organisation that misled me in order to initiate such a conversation?"
Said Mr Edwin Yeo, 48, general manager of integrated communications firm SPRG Singapore: "I think the post would have garnered the right kind of attention if Rebecca had said she was 'thinking of retirement' - instead of was 'retiring' - and then engaged her fans in a discussion about retirement plans."
Mr Lars Voedisch, 42, principal consultant at public relations and social media consultancy PRecious Communications, said: "Has the stunt created awareness about the importance of retirement planning? Yes. But this is overshadowed by the negative comments. Her brand value will most likely go down, at least in the short term."
However, local stars spoke in support of Ms Lim yesterday.
Other publicity stunts gone wrong
Mark And Audrey: Forbidden Love (2011)
A "couple", whose families objected to their relationship, went online to garner support. Their Facebook page received more than 3,500 "likes".
Then in a video they made, when "Mark" was seen going to pick up "Audrey", a screeching sound was heard and his friends were seen rushing out from his car.
The video then flashed this message: "Unexpected things happen in life. Be insured to have your loved ones assured."
A disclaimer confirmed that the saga was a campaign, but it is not known which insurance company was behind it. Netizens called the campaign an "epic fail" on the duo's Facebook page .
'Vandalised' mailboxes (2010)
SingPost claimed that six of its mailboxes had been "vandalised" with graffiti and that the police had been informed.
It turned out to be a marketing initiative for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, for which SingPost was a sponsor. The police issued warnings to two SingPost marketing employees for causing a public nuisance. SingPost apologised.
Ulu Pandan 'bear' (2010)
A video of a "bear" sighted along Ulu Pandan Road was posted on citizen journalism website Stomp. Twelve Singapore Zoo staff - one armed with a tranquiliser gun - rushed to the scene.
Philips Electronics Singapore revealed that it was a guerilla advertising campaign to launch a new shaver, and apologised .
Actress Jayley Woo, 24, told The Sunday Times: "I think her post was rather effective in making young people like me think about the issue of retirement. For a moment, I was shocked. Then I read the text more carefully and it didn't mention anything about her leaving the industry. Rather, there was more emphasis on retirement."
The Sunday Times was unable to reach Ms Lim for a comment yesterday as she was said to be filming all day for an upcoming Channel 8 drama series, The Dream Job, according to The Celebrity Agency, which manages her career.
Ms Mei Ho, 45, a senior manager at the agency, said: "Rebecca was concerned about the alarm her post had caused, and hopes that people will accept her good intentions. She is also truly appreciative of those who have been so supportive."
Ms Lim will not be present at a press conference tomorrow, when NTUC Income will share its white paper study on the Singaporean perception of retirement.
Ms Lim is one of the brightest TV stars of her generation. She made a splash playing trainee lawyer Wendy Lim in the 2010 drama The Pupil, and won Best Drama Performance In A Leading Role at the Asian Television Awards.
She is bilingual and versatile, able to handle both serious and comic roles. This year, she is up for Best Actress again for the romantic drama Sealed With A Kiss. She has been on the list of Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes from 2012 to 2015.