E-Pay takes down and apologises for ad after racism allegations

Singapore e-payments agency E-Pay has found itself in hot waters after running an ad where it darkened the skin of a model to make it look like someone from another ethnicity.

E-Pay, a Singaporean government agency dedicated to encouraging people to go cashless, has taken down the ad. The agencies behind it have also apologized.

The advert depicted Dennis Chow, an actor working for the commercial broadcasting conglomerate Mediacorp, dressing up as characters from different races. This included him dressing up as a Malay woman wearing a traditional tudung headscarf and as an Indian man. For the second photograph, his skin has been darkened, resulting in allegations of using brown face.

After the ad was released, it caused an uproar online. Many people criticized it on social media, calling it racist.

In a joint statement, Mediacorp’s celebrity management arm The Celebrity Agency and advertisement agency Havas Worldwide said they intended the add to show that cashless payments were for everyone, Marketing Magazine reported. The organizations continued, “We’re sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused. Behind the ad is an initiative to provide greater convenience to consumers, merchants and small food businesses.”

This is not the first time Mediacorp has run into this type of situation. The Singaporean Infocomm Media Development Authority slammed the company with a S$5,500 (£3,250) fine in 2017. The sanction came after one of Mediacorp’s shows had a Chinese actor play a character of African descent, again darkening his skin.

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