Ethical Advertising: Singapore’s Marketing Guidelines

A Man Checking Some Online AdsAdvertising companies have largely enjoyed greater freedom than they ever have in the past. They can be as creative as they like and utilise the latest methods to catch their audience’s attention. Whether they are advertising on television, online, or through SMS, there are many ways for an advertising company to reach their target market.

Advertising must be cost effective, be able to bring its point across, and be able to convince buyers to act. This is why ad agencies are always looking for new ways to beat the competition. Singapore, however, is actively implementing new marketing guidelines to ensure that advertisements remain honest and ethical.

Online Advertising Standards

Following in the footsteps of Australian and British advertising codes, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) drafted new guidelines for advertising online, with a focus on social media.

These guidelines have come as a response to uncontrolled advertising practices online. Advertisers were originally free to set up online blogs that appear to be impartial while actually promoting their products in a positive light.

Another area of concern is astroturfing, where companies hire individuals to write fake reviews and articles in an attempt to improve their company’s reputation. This was deemed as unethical and misrepresentative, prompting the ASAS seeks to act.

Clarity and Honesty

The new guidelines will still allow endorsers to be paid for their reviews, but they must fully disclose if the product was sponsored. This way, buyers will be able to make more informed decisions, and the advertisers will also be held accountable for their products.

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Along with requiring full disclosure of paid advertisements, ASAS requires online advertisements to be clear and transparent. Instructions must be clear — for example, if an online raffle requires a purchase or some fee, they must make it abundantly clear to the customer.

They must also make sure that their advertisements are appropriate for their target market, especially if the advertisement is aimed at children.

All of these guidelines are designed to make online advertising clearer and more ethical.