While the vast majority of Singapore advertisers have acted responsibly and are to be "commended" for offering products and services that make life under COVID-19 safer and more bearable to consumer, the nation's ad standards authority has issued a 'reminder' to advertise ethically after "a small number have unfortunately used the crisis to traffic in misinformation."
In a letter to adverstisers, Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) chairman Ang Peng Hwa elaborated: "They claim that their products and services offer meaningful protection against viruses or 'the virus' during this period, based on weak evidence or misinterpreted research. Such tactics may give anxious consumers a false sense of security, bait the consumer into making purchases out of fear and undermine efforts to contain the spread of the disease."
Ang noted that such ads have been reported to ASAS over the past couple of months and the Authority continues to instruct these advertisers to stop the misleading statements. "The ASAS will also share the feedback with the relevant authorities for further action under the law if warranted," Ang added.
ASAS says advertisers should heed the Health Sciences Authority (HSA)’s advisory on products claiming to prevent or treat COVID-19 when planning their marketing communications.
Members of the public who come across ads for products and services that appear to be misleading are asked to write to ASAS with a clear copy or image of the advertisement, its location and/or the URL where it may be found.
ASAS recommendations for advertisers
The other "key points" ASAS is advising advertisers to remember are:
- Put out messages that contribute positively to the Singapore Government’s management of the crisis.
- Ensure that the terms and conditions of promotions are indicated in the advertisement in an upfront and transparent manner.
- Use only honest and truthful claims about products and services that are capable of robust substantiation.
- Avoid spreading misinformation that originates from sources that are not reliable.
- Check and comply with the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), the ASAS’s advisories and all relevant national legislation.
- Write to ASAS for copy advice and answers to your queries.