Circles.Life has pulled its out-of-home ad in an MRT station in Singapore after the subject of the ad led to a police report being made.
Eunice Olsen, a former Miss Singapore Universe and actress, made the report after she was told of the ad, which is part of the digital telco’s promotion of the new Discover feature in its app. As part of the campaign, Circles.Life invited people to submit their own ‘Epic Invite’ that it would then blow up on a billboard.
The ad in question had said: “@euniceolsen Would you rather French Kiss or take me out for the French Film Festival?", which was submitted by someone called @alexkrygsman.
Olsen is also a former nominated member of the Parliament of Singapore, which means she does not represent a political party or constituency. Posting on social media, she called the ad ‘misappropriating identity, sexist, derogatory, disrespectful, distasteful’, labelling it a cheap publicity stunt.
"Advertising can play a big role to influence gender equality. As a brand, ad agency, media buyer or media owner, you have the power through your ads to empower women, or disempower them,” she wrote on Instagram. “We are influenced by what we see in advertising whether we like it or not. By having ads like that, you are sending the wrong message and reinforcing stereotypes about women."
When contacted by The Drum, a spokesperson for the digital telco was apologetic, saying: “In regard to the Epic Invite campaign billboard that featured a submission by @alexkrygsman, we never intended to make Ms. Eunice feel uncomfortable and we apologize for that.”
“We are taking down the ad immediately. We will learn from this experience and appreciate the feedback."
The brand is no stranger to controversy, having previously created a fake telco company and hired local social media influencers to vandalise the fake telco’s advertisement in an MRT station, filming it for an Instagram story. There was also a cash-dispensing vending machines stunt that became so rowdy, police had to step in.
Previous ads in MRT stations include using gaunt faces of models with outstretched pleading hands for a 'Fight Data Deprivation' campaign.
The Drum previously spoke Megan Yulga, the senior marketing manager at Circles.Life about why the digital telco's branding and marketing approach has always been fun, bold, and simple.