Singtel and Gushcloud say sorry for negative marketing campaign

SINGAPORE - Singtel and social media marketing firm Gushcloud have apologised for a marketing campaign that ended up disparaging rival telcos M1 and StarHub.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), which regulates telcos here, yesterday also said that it is investigating the matter.

Singtel's consumer marketing vice-president Johan Buse said in a statement last night: "Further investigations have revealed that our staff who worked with Gushcloud on the marketing campaign last June did not adhere to Singtel's marketing standards."

The campaign was meant to promote its youth mobile plan.

Last Saturday however, "leaked" documents were posted online by Ms Wendy Cheng, a blogger who goes by the name Xiaxue.

According to the documents, Gushcloud's bloggers were allegedly asked to complain about the services offered by Singtel's rivals.

The revelation prompted M1 and StarHub to write to Singtel to clarify the matter, and to ask IDA to look into it.

Yesterday, Mr Buse said: "We apologise for this isolated incident."

He also went on to say that Singtel will emphasise to its staff and agencies the importance of adhering to guidelines including the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice, which states that all advertisements should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.

Minutes after his statement, Gushcloud chief executive Vincent Ha released his firm's apology saying that "we have let our influencers and client down with the way the campaign turned out and we are sorry. It goes against the management's belief to use the Internet for spreading negative messages".

Influencers are people who have a substantial reach and following on social media platforms, and can shape the opinions and behaviour of others.

Mr Ha criticised Ms Cheng for her expose, saying "it has done far more harm than good to our industry".

But Ms Cheng, who in December alleged that Gushcloud inflated its "influence", hit back at him for trying to divert blame.

Calling Gushcloud's action "not ethical", she told The Straits Times: "This is a warning to the rest in the industry to engage in honest practices."

limyihan@sph.com.sg