RWS Halloween event publicity stunt draws flak

Resorts World Sentosa has received criticism for its publicity campaign involving a fictitious shopping mall collapse, but stands by its concept.
Resorts World Sentosa has received criticism for its publicity campaign involving a fictitious shopping mall collapse, but stands by its concept. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/FELIX CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Three memorials have sprung up around town with names, photos and flowers dedicated to victims of the Southpoint Mall collapse on Aug 17.

If the disaster does not ring, it is because it is a publicity stunt cooked up by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to promote the seventh instalment of Halloween Horror Nights.

But this publicity ploy has backfired with some netizens who have called it tasteless and insensitive.

Adjunct lecturer Felix Cheong, 52, who chanced upon one of the memorials outside Rendezvous Hotel Singapore in Bras Basah, told The Straits Times that he found the campaign "insensitively and tastelessly done".

"We see such memorial walls around the world, at real events. There's currently a lot of sensitivity in the world about terrorist events. Sure, cutting the raw nerve is newsworthy, but it is insensitive to victims of real events and their families. We can only joke about it, because it hasn't happened to us."

An RWS spokesman told The Straits Times that the memorials were set up at "three selected bus shelters in strategic downtown locations", to give fans a sneak preview of this year's event.

The popular annual event at Universal Studios Singapore takes place over 14 nights from Sept 29 to Oct 29, and will feature an attraction called Death Mall, involving the ruins of a building haunted by the ghosts of those who died when it collapsed from structural failure.

The spokesman also acknowledged that the campaign has drawn some flak: "There are mixed reactions on our social media but we also noticed that this bus shelter display has generated a lot of conversations among commuters."

He pointed out that previous editions of the Halloween event has also successfully employed bus shelter displays, with paper effigies in 2015 and Chinese talismans last year.

Such installations aim to "creatively drive awareness in an eye-catching, original and unconventional way".

RWS said it is confident its marketing campaign will resonate well with horror fans.