SINGAPORE: Car-hailing app GrabTaxi has issued an apology on Thursday (Oct 8), following backlash over its breast cancer awareness campaign.
Since the launch of the #GrabitBeatit campaign, GrabTaxi customers have received app notifications with the message “LOVE BOOBS? So does cancer.” The slogan has also been plastered on cars running the GrabCar services.
Some netizens did not take kindly to the tagline. “It's unfortunate that your Breast Cancer campaign is communicated in a sexist way that objectifies women,” Twitter user Faizal Hamssin wrote.
Another Twitter user, Ihthiyaz Hussain, suggested that GrabTaxi should have been more professional and genuine in its approach.
“There have been mixed reactions to the taglines for our #GrabitBeatit campaign, and we apologise that it comes across as insensitive to breast cancer survivors, their families and the wider public,” said Group VP of Marketing for GrabTaxi Cheryl Goh in a statement. “Breast cancer is not a trivial issue and we regret that the taglines are not reflective of the seriousness of the issue.”
The company also said that the tagline was chosen to capture the public’s attention, “because greater awareness can save lives”.
Added Ms Goh: “Breast cancer has high cure rates when detected early, and our intention was to encourage women to think about self-examination and getting screened.
“We wanted to support this cause in women’s health and safety because it is close to our hearts; we also have colleagues and loved ones who have or are going through treatment, and are completely supportive of them.”
Stage 2 breast cancer patient Deborah Roques, who was diagnosed in January this year, said she was not offended by the GrabTaxi campaign. “I don’t have an issue talking about it. For me, the name of the slogan is not an issue,” the 29-year-old French national said.
“Honestly, I think it’s an attractive name and it has to be funny and catchy. Then, people will want to have a look at what it is exactly, and the reason behind this catchy name,” she added.
She also believes the campaign will create more awareness. “Women need to know that they need to go for screening. After reading the app notification, it gives people an idea that this is the breast cancer awareness month.”
However, she said the call-to-action needed to be more clearly communicated. “I’m not sure if it is clear enough when you open the app notification. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, whether to buy a T-shirt, or go to the website.”
Ms Roques felt that it was unnecessary for GrabTaxi to apologise. "For me, to raise awareness, you need to talk freely about boobs and breasts. The concept also has to be made accessible to people and then, maybe more people will be aware of it."
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
As part of GrabTaxi’s campaign for breast cancer awareness month, the firm has been selling T-shirts at S$15 per piece, with all sales proceeds to the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS).
"As a voluntary welfare organisation dependent on donations, we are grateful to GrabTaxi for thinking of SCS and raising funds for us," SCS.
The society has thanked GrabTaxi on its Facebook page. "While we can advise factually on cancer statistics when consulted, it is GrabTaxi’s prerogative to develop and manage their own creativity, advertising and promotions," it added.
Despite the apology, GrabTaxi has no plans to change the campaign slogan plastered on cars. This is because it is “focused on raising funds, awareness for breast cancer and encouraging more women to go for checks and self-examine”, the company said.