Mediacorp, ad agency sorry for ‘brownface’ ad, yank adverts

A screenshot taken from the epaysg.com website showing actor Dennis Chew depicted as people from other races.
A screenshot taken from the epaysg.com website showing actor Dennis Chew depicted as people from other races.

Mediacorp has apologized for using a Chinese man to portray people from other races in a new ad campaign promoting an electronic payment system.

In the ad, Mediacorp actor Dennis Chew was depicted as an Indian man, with visibly darker skin and carrying a name tag with the name “K Muthusamy” printed on it.

He also portrayed what appeared to be a Malay woman wearing a headscarf as well as a Chinese man and woman.

In a statement to Coconuts Singapore jointly issued by Mediacorp’s artist management arm, The Celebrity Agency, and the creative agency behind the campaign, Havas Worldwide, they said: “We’re sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused.”

“The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone,” the statement added. “For that reason, Dennis Chew, well-known for his ability to portray multiple characters in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of the campaign.”

The statement makes no specific mention of the use of brownface and whether the company believes it to be problematic. We’ve reached out to Mediacorp to clarify if company policy will be modified in any way to prevent a recurrence of the issue.

Photos of Chew have been pulled from the E-Pay website, apart from the one where he apparently depicted a Chinese man.

A screenshot taken from the epaysg.com website without photos of Dennis Chew depicted as individuals from other races.
A screenshot taken from the epaysg.com website without photos of Dennis Chew depicted as individuals from other races.
A screenshot taken from the epaysg.com website showing actor Dennis Chew.
A screenshot taken from the epaysg.com website showing actor Dennis Chew.

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