Why use 'hopeless' in ad?

THE latest advertising effort by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) to attract social workers has drawn flak for its choice of a word displayed on an ad.

Members of the public have expressed shock and outrage over the word "hopeless" used in one of a series of four ads featured in MCYS' campaign.

It shows a social worker playing ball with two amputees, with the enlarged word "hopeless" emblazoned across the ad. This was followed by the words, "if not for Ruth Lim, a Professional Social Worker", in smaller font.

The ads were produced by Singapore ad agency Starlight Advertising, and have appeared on public buses and in newspapers. The other three versions carry the words "abandoned", "future destroyed" and "life ruined" - with similar subsequent taglines.

Netizens have lambasted the ad in question, calling it "offensive", "insensitive" and "distasteful" for labelling the less fortunate.

Said 24-year-old undergraduate Cheng Pak Wing: "It is discriminating and offensive to the disabled, who are trying to be independent."

In an e-mail reply, an MCYS spokesman told my paper that the ad portrayed the emotions of people when they suffer the loss of their legs.

The spokesman added that the intention of the ad was "not to label the disabled as a complete failure in society" but "to demonstrate how social workers can bring hope to the lives of clients at a time when their hopes have been shattered".

Launched by MCYS last Monday, the campaign aims to encourage more people to take up social work as a profession.

Welfare groups my paper contacted felt the word "hopeless" was accurate. This is because the disabled whom they work with often feel hopeless about their plight, they said.

Ms Chia Yong Yong, the president of the Society for the Physically Disabled, said: "People with disabilities...may feel overwhelmed by the thought that the future holds little or no hope for them."


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