Singapore Environment Council's video on air pollution raises eyebrows with its risque content
It is always a good time to think about saving the environment -even when having sex.
That appears to be the premise behind the Singapore Environment Council's (SEC) latest air pollution advertisement.
Starting with a disclaimer that reads "Parental Guidance Advised", the cheeky one-minute ad shows a van in a dark, nondescript location rocking violently while its engine is running.
As the rocking quickens and the van's hazard lights blink on and off, text appears telling viewers that "Tiny solid and liquid particles make up the haze" and that "Vehicles produce 50 per cent of these locally emitted particles, which clog up our lungs".
The ad climaxes in a palm smacking against the van's window, a homage to an iconic scene in the movie Titanic.
The van's engine is then switched off, but the rocking shortly returns as the ad ends with the statement "Make love, not haze".
The ad was posted on SEC's Facebook page on Nov 6 and, as of yesterday night, had received more than 46,400 views, 505 "likes" and 633 "shares".
The ad is the third in a four-part series that aims to educate Singaporeans on being more environmentally responsible. The other ads centre on issues such as waste management and food wastage.
Reception to the ad has been mixed, with some netizens praising its funny and courageous approach, and others saying that the ad is in bad taste.
When interviewed by The New Paper, SEC chief executive officer Jose Raymond said that they took a bold yet humorous approach to the ad so that it would be relatable and memorable to people from all walks of life.
He said: "Environmental issues are not child's play and the 'Make Love, Not Haze' video was conceptualised to draw attention to our current environmental challenges through thought-provoking images and humour to illustrate the impact of our behaviour."
He added: "We wanted the people to know the hard truth that such wasteful and inconsiderate behaviour is detrimental to our environment. We expected some kind of reaction, but ultimately, our objective was to get the message across creatively."
However, some professionals thought that the ad, which was created by local creative agency Project Peanut, has not managed to fulfil its main purpose of educating the public about air pollution.
Mr Noor Azhar Mohamed, an advertising lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic Design School, said an ad's creativity might not necessarily be a good measure of how well-received it will be among audiences.
He explained: "Ads that are overly creative may win awards, but not necessarily sit in well with its target audiences.
"This commercial may be creative and memorable, but it may not sit well with our larger local community. It might be just right for certain target audiences, but not for the mass audience in general."
PRecious Communications managing director Lars Voedisch also felt that the attention-grabbing aspect of the ad has ended up overshadowing its intended message.
He said: "This is a typical outcome of a communications campaign that forcefully tried to be funny that ends up being effective in capturing attention, but misses conveying the message."
There is also concern among parents that the risque nature of the ad might be inappropriate for their children.
Nurse Emi Ng, 37, a mother of two children aged five and two, said: "I will not allow my children to watch it as I fear that it will have a negative effect on them."
Still, there are fans. Student Marcus Mark Ramos, 22, said he liked the ad because it is a welcome departure from many other ads that deal with this topic.
He said: "I think it is a cool advertisement as it takes a very bold approach yet remains informative."
I think it is a cool advertisement as it takes a very bold approach but yet remains informative. - Student Marcus Mark Ramos
This commercial may be creative and memorable, but it may not sit well with our larger local community. It might be just right for certain target audiences, but not for the mass audience in general. - Mr Noor Azhar Mohamed, an advertising lecturer with Singapore Polytechnic Design School
This article was first published on Nov 13, 2014.
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