Netizens have slammed television actress Rebecca Lim, 29, who is in the prime of her career, for her Instagram post on 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 professionals to plan financially for retirement.
A video of her clarifying the situation, posted on Friday night on her Facebook page, had garnered over 440 comments at press time, mostly criticising the star though 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?"
Another user, Jacqueline Zoe Tan, called it "a bad marketing gimmick" and wrote: "The whole afternoon, my teen girls and nieces were talking about your retirement, and how sad they were, and that they would miss you dearly... and now I really feel sad for them."
While Lim said during a media conference call on Friday night that she was "sorry for any misunderstanding" but would not have done things differently to reach young people, experts felt the stunt was ill-conceived and poorly executed.
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 engage her fans in a discussion about retirement plans."
Mr Lars Voedisch, 42, principal consultant at public relations and social media consultancy PRecious Communications, added: "Has the stunt created awareness about the importance for retirement planning? Yes. But this is overshadowed by the negative comments around people's disappointment.
"Her brand value will most likely go down, at least in the short term."
However, local stars spoke in support of Lim yesterday.
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."
Actor Chen Hanwei, 46, wrote in an Instagram post: "She doesn't need the publicity. She is just doing her job (as a partner with NTUC Income)."
The Straits Times was unable to reach 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.
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."
Lim will not be present at a press conference on Monday morning, when NTUC Income will share its white paper study on the perceptions of Singaporeans towards retirement.
Lim is one of the brightest TV stars of her generation. She made her splash playing trainee lawyer Wendy Lim in The Pupil (2010), and won Best Drama Performance In A Leading Role at the Asian Television Awards.
She is bilingual and versatile, having played ingenues and goofballs.
At the Star Awards last year, she won the coveted Best Actress award for her role as a geeky idol drama addict in Yes! We Can.
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.