Samsung may be a liberal corporation, but Singaporeans are still largely conservative.
Samsung’s latest advertisement backfired when it failed to account for our conservative society, drawing backlash for its portrayal of a Muslim mother supporting her drag queen son.
“Listen to Your Heart” Series Failed To Listen To Singaporeans’ Hearts
The advertisement was one of many in Samsung’s latest “Listen to Your Heart” series. It aims to promote its noise-cancelling earbuds and smartwatch that has a heart rate monitor.
Pairs of participants in the campaign would listen to a message from the other loved one through earbuds, while the smart watch monitored their heart rate.
In this particular video, one of the participating pairs was a Muslim mother and her drag queen son. The son thanked his mother for her unwavering support.
What was supposed to be an advertisement that tugged on our heartstrings had the opposite effect: it sparked outrage online, with netizens angered by the video’s insensitivity to the Muslim community.
Netizens felt like this advertisement was trying to “normalise and push lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) ideology” into a Muslim community that is mostly conservative.
Samsung took the video down from all online platforms and posted a statement on Facebook on Wednesday (19 January).
They stated that they were aware of the feedback that the video was insensitive, and promised to be more mindful in considering all viewpoints for their future marketing campaigns.
Homosexuality Remains A Sensitive Topic in Singapore
This is despite increasing support and calls for more acceptance of the LGBTQ community locally.
In fact, the TODAY Youth Survey 2021 found that overall acceptance of LGBTQ community is high amongst youths aged 18 to 35, though there were conflicted feelings when it came to their own family members. This could signal a growing shift toward acceptance of the LGBTQ community as the younger generation are less conservative.
However, when it comes to Singapore as a whole and not just the youths, Singaporeans are still largely conservative.
This is seen in how multiple attempts to repeal Section 377A has failed over the years. Section 377A of the penal code criminalises consensual sex between men. However, the Government has stated that it is not enforced.
There have also been instances of local communities discriminating against the LGBTQ community. A video by a church calling gay pride ‘satanic‘ trended on Twitter in 2020. The police also investigated a 23-year-old man last year for threatening the LGBTQ community on Instagram.
Society’s views on homosexuality are still evolving, but one thing’s for sure: it’s still a sensitive topic amongst Singaporeans.
Brands, no matter how rightfully inclusive they are, might want to avoid including homosexual themes in their campaigns for the time being. (Unless they don’t mind backlash!)
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