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MDA tackles Singlish, advertorial

News, 28 September 2016

SINGAPORE: Global travel brand Expedia has been rapped over the knuckles by Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) for overusing "Singlish" in its advertising, while broadcaster Mediacorp has been warned about blurring the line between ads and content.

Colloquial Singaporean English – or "Singlish" – is actually a mix of words originating from several languages, including the four official languages of Malay, Cantonese, Tamil and English, as well as others like Hokkien and Teochew, and is frowned upon by both the government and advertising authority.

The MDA's TV advertising code includes guidelines on this issue, requiring "a good standard of language". Specifically, "Singlish and ungrammatical English should not be used". Vulgar and crude language should also be avoided.

Expedia managed to upset the authority on more than one count, Marketing reported, not only through its excessive use of Singlish, but also by the inclusion of the dialect phrase wah lao, which some deemed inappropriate for broadcast.

Not all authorities are opposed to Singlish, however: several Singlish words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary in its quarterly update earlier this month.

The MDA also pulled up two Mediacorp TV channels for failing to make clear that segments at the end of three shows were actually "advertorial in nature".

These had featured artists from the dramas in question, filmed on set promoting sponsors' products, with the footage then inserted before the programme credits.

The MDA advised Mediacorp to use "slides" or "graphics" to ensure that viewers were aware that they were watching advertising.

Data sourced from Marketing, Today; additional content by Warc staff