Singtel and Gushcloud say sorry for negative marketing campaign

Singtel and Gushcloud say sorry for negative marketing campaign
Singtel is the latest casualty embroiled in the dispute between blogger Ms Wendy Cheng and social media marketing firm Gushcloud

SINGAPORE - Singtel is the latest casualty embroiled in the dispute between blogger Ms Wendy Cheng and social media marketing firm Gushcloud, after the telco apologised for a marketing campaign that smeared rivals M1 and StarHub.

This follows M1 and StarHub's complaint to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) about the malpractice on Tuesday, which triggered an IDA investigation into the matter.

A statement by Singtel's consumer marketing vice-president Johan Buse read: "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."

Earlier on Monday, Singtel initially distanced itself from the exposed Gushcloud marketing campaign brief to its influencer network, which asked them to "complain/lament about competitor's (M1/Starhub) services/network connections and pinpoint [sic] with [Singtel's] existing plan".

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

"As an organisation, we maintain high marketing standards and do not condone negative campaigns or publicity against any individuals or organisations. Our focus has always been on the strength and differentiators of our products and services," Mr Buse said in the latest statement.

"We apologise for this isolated incident. We will emphasise to our staff and agencies our marketing standards and the importance of adhering to industry guidelines including the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice." 

Gushcloud chief executive Vincent Ha later released his firm's apology on Facebook after Singtel issued its statement, acknowledging that "we have let our influencers and client down with the way the campaign turned out and we are sorry."

He added: "It goes against the management's belief to use the Internet for spreading negative messages."

The expose about the controversial Gushcloud marketing campaign brief by Ms Cheng, more famously known as Xiaxue, is a follow-up in a long-standing dispute between both parties.

Ms Cheng fired the first salvo in December 2014 when she alleged that Gushcloud was unethical by inflating its "influence".

grongloh@sph.com.sg

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