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Havas issues new apology over E-Pay 'brownface' ad: 'We regret if anyone has been offended'

Havas issues new apology over E-Pay 'brownface' ad: 'We regret if anyone has been offended'

In the E-Pay ad, Dennis Chew's skin was darkened to depict an Indian man. He also portrayed a Malay woman, a Chinese man and a Chinese woman. (Photo: AFP/Roslan RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: Creative agency Havas Worldwide issued another statement on Thursday (Aug 1) apologising for "any hurt caused" by the E-Pay campaign it had been engaged by NETS to do, which included an advertisement deemed controversial for its use of "brownface". 

"Havas Worldwide Singapore would like to apologise for any hurt caused by the recent campaign to communicate that e-payment is for everyone," said the agency. 

"The message behind the campaign is that e-pay is for people across all age groups and demographics. 

"Our multicultural society defines us as a nation, and we regret if anyone has been offended by the campaign," it added. 

In the ad, Mediacorp actor and deejay Dennis Chew, who is Chinese, appeared in "brownface" - the act of darkening one's fair skin to mimic that of another race - as an Indian character and as a Malay woman wearing a headscarf. 

It also showed him cross-dressing as a Chinese woman.  

READ: "Two wrongs don't make a right" - Ministers, religious leaders on rap video and "brownface" ad

The ad sparked backlash online and led brother-and-sister performing duo Preeti and Subhas Nair to put out an expletive-laden rap video responding to it. The video has since been taken down from online platforms and is under police investigation for "offensive content". 

Havas and Mediacorp's celebrity management arm, The Celebrity Agency, had issued a joint apology on Monday to apologise for "any hurt that was unintentionally caused". 

"The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone. For that reason, Dennis Chew, well-known for his ability to portray multiple characters in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of the campaign," the statement added. 

Mediacorp also said it would put in place "more stringent safeguards ... to prevent a repeat of such a mistake". 

NETS has also apologised

Source: CNA/hs(hm)


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