Monday, 15 February 2016

NTUC Income retirement PR stunt an Epic Fail

Actress draws flak for 'retirement' stunt
Rebecca Lim blasted online for 'ill-conceived' stunt involving NTUC Income to create buzz about retirement planning
By Benson Ang, The Sunday Times, 14 Feb 2016

Netizens have slammed television actress Rebecca Lim, 29, who is in the prime of her career, for her Instagram post last Friday morning in which she said she was "retiring".

The post turned out to be a publicity stunt involving insurance company NTUC Income, to remind young Singaporeans to plan financially for retirement.

Retiring is a journey and not an end. It's about gaining financial independence to live life to the fullest today and be...
Posted by NTUC Income on Saturday, February 13, 2016

A video of her clarifying the situation, posted last Friday night on her Facebook page, had garnered over 440 comments at press time, mostly criticising the star, although she had supporters too.

Facebook user JC Jaycee Ho wrote: "What level of trustworthiness does one retain when you release a statement to say you are retiring and on the same day, say you are not?"

While Ms Lim said during a media conference call on Friday night that she was "sorry for any misunderstanding" but would not have done things differently, experts felt the stunt was ill-conceived and poorly executed.

Dr Michael Netzley, academic director of executive development at the Singapore Management University, said: "The entire stunt relies on misleading people. Why would I want to trust my hard-earned retirement funds to an organisation that misled me in order to initiate such a conversation?"

Said Mr Edwin Yeo, 48, general manager of integrated communications firm SPRG Singapore: "I think the post would have garnered the right kind of attention if Rebecca had said she was 'thinking of retirement' - instead of was 'retiring' - and then engaged her fans in a discussion about retirement plans."

Mr Lars Voedisch, 42, principal consultant at public relations and social media consultancy PRecious Communications, said: "Has the stunt created awareness about the importance of retirement planning? Yes. But this is overshadowed by the negative comments. Her brand value will most likely go down, at least in the short term."

However, local stars spoke in support of Ms Lim yesterday.

Actress Jayley Woo, 24, told The Sunday Times: "I think her post was rather effective in making young people like me think about the issue of retirement. For a moment, I was shocked. Then I read the text more carefully and it didn't mention anything about her leaving the industry. Rather, there was more emphasis on retirement."

The Sunday Times was unable to reach Ms Lim for a comment yesterday as she was said to be filming all day for an upcoming Channel 8 drama series, The Dream Job, according to The Celebrity Agency, which manages her career.

Ms Mei Ho, 45, a senior manager at the agency, said: "Rebecca was concerned about the alarm her post had caused, and hopes that people will accept her good intentions. She is also truly appreciative of those who have been so supportive."

Ms Lim will not be present at a press conference tomorrow, when NTUC Income will share its white paper study on the Singaporean perception of retirement.

Ms Lim is one of the brightest TV stars of her generation. She made a splash playing trainee lawyer Wendy Lim in the 2010 drama The Pupil, and won Best Drama Performance In A Leading Role at the Asian Television Awards.

She is bilingual and versatile, able to handle both serious and comic roles. This year, she is up for Best Actress again for the romantic drama Sealed With A Kiss. She has been on the list of Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes from 2012 to 2015.

No, actress Rebecca Lim is not retiring from showbiz. Her Instagram post, in which she implied she was, was part of a collaboration with NTUC Income.
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, February 12, 2016

Other publicity stunts gone wrong
The Sunday Times, 14 Feb 2016

Mark And Audrey: Forbidden Love (2011)

A "couple", whose families objected to their relationship, went online to garner support. Their Facebook page received more than 3,500 "likes".

Then in a video they made, when "Mark" was seen going to pick up "Audrey", a screeching sound was heard and his friends were seen rushing out from his car.

The video then flashed this message: "Unexpected things happen in life. Be insured to have your loved ones assured."

A disclaimer confirmed that the saga was a campaign, but it is not known which insurance company was behind it. Netizens called the campaign an "epic fail" on the duo's Facebook page.

'Vandalised' mailboxes (2010)

SingPost claimed that six of its mailboxes had been "vandalised" with graffiti and that the police had been informed.

It turned out to be a marketing initiative for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, for which SingPost was a sponsor. The police issued warnings to two SingPost marketing employees for causing a public nuisance. SingPost apologised.

Ulu Pandan 'bear' (2010)

A video of a "bear" sighted along Ulu Pandan Road was posted on citizen journalism website Stomp. Twelve Singapore Zoo staff - one armed with a tranquiliser gun - rushed to the scene.

Philips Electronics Singapore revealed that it was a guerilla advertising campaign to launch a new shaver, and apologised.

2月15日 【艺人 Rebecca Lim 林慧玲 网上宣传“退休” 职总英康就事件表示遗憾】职总英康 NTUC Income 表示,并没有意思误导公众,而是希望让公众更了解为退休做好规划准备。详文:照片:intagram/limrebecca,聂国威)
Posted by 8频道新闻新加坡 Channel 8 news on Sunday, February 14, 2016

Proper recovery crucial when PR stunts backfire

The manner in which NTUC Income handled actress Rebecca Lim's "retirement" publicity gimmick defies all good sense - and goodwill - in public relations (PR) management ("Insurer expresses regret over 'retirement' stunt"; Tuesday).

To my mind, PR stunts have the following three Rs of severity:
- A risky stunt is one that is intended to create product awareness through blatant public panic or stakeholder annoyance, such as the police being called upon to investigate a postbox "vandalism" case by Singapore Post or zookeepers armed with tranquillizers having to locate a "bear" in a stunt by Philips Electronics. Fortunately, Ms Lim's episode does not fall under this worst-case scenario.
- A roguish stunt is one that is intended to create product awareness by making use of known personalities, such as media celebrities, as in Ms Lim's case, to court controversy.
- A reasonable stunt is one that uses neither public panic nor celebrity pull to create product awareness, but relies on professional creativity, such as those we see in good quality PR inventiveness by the Health Promotion Board or the Singapore Tourism Board.
The moment a PR stunt backfires, there are recovery mechanisms that allow remorseful perpetrators to redeem their tarnished reputation.

Sadly, Income did not avail itself of these available avenues, but displayed unrepentance by rubbing salt in the wound.

First, it could have apologised sincerely and quickly, and a forgiving public would have accepted it as a genuine mistake.

Instead, its chief marketing officer Marcus Chew expressed "regret", which is PR-speak for no apologies, and brazenly cut Ms Lim off from facing the media at a time when her presence would have smoothed ruffled feathers.

Second, its head of strategic communications Shannen Fong distorted the English language by differentiating "retiring" from "retirement" - an insult to Singaporeans who know their vocabulary better.

Third, Ms Fong turned defensive when asked if the firm could have done anything differently in hindsight, given the backlash.

Instead of addressing the question more constructively and contritely, she had the audacity to reply: "Everything is possible in hindsight. We did not have that hindsight when we started."

The Rebecca Lim PR disaster would not be faulted for the wrong stunt it pulled, but for the arrogance of Income in handling its consequences.

Sunny Goh (Dr)
ST Forum, 18 Feb 2016

Recently, I've been reminded that being an artiste comes with great responsibilities. I know I have upset many of you,...
Posted by Rebecca Lim 林慧玲 on Thursday, February 25, 2016

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