Singtel, Gushcloud say sorry
Alleged smear campaign against StarHub, M1
Singtel has apologised for its part in the controversy over social media agency Gushcloud's alleged strategy to discredit rival telcos as part of a digital campaign.
This comes after the telco had said, in an earlier statement, that it did not issue the brief that is being circulated online.
The 2014 brief comprises instructions to "influencers", a common term used to describe social media personalities, on how they could engage in a smear campaign against StarHub and M1.
Clarifying that it was a "niche campaign targeted at a narrow customer segment", Singtel's vice-president of consumer marketing Johan Buse said yesterday: "Further investigations have revealed that our staff who worked with Gushcloud on the marketing campaign in June last year did not adhere to Singtel's marketing standards.
"As an organisation, we maintain high marketing standards and do not condone negative campaigns or publicity against any individuals or organisations."
He also said: "We apologise for this isolated incident.
"We will emphasise to our staff and agencies our marketing standards and the importance of adhering to industry guidelines including the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice."
On Saturday, prominent blogger Wendy Cheng, better known as Xiaxue, had posted the second instalment of her allegations against Gushcloud, which included the brief.
Ms Cheng claimed that Gushcloud, a client of Singtel, had sent the brief to its "influencers" to complain about the services of rival telcos.
The purpose of this was to eventually drive sign-ups to a Singtel youth plan in June last year.
The blogger said: "I checked with acquaintances working in Gushcloud.
"I also went back to several influencers' blogs and social media accounts and noticed that they were indeed complaining about the services of the other two telcos - at around the same time."
When The New Paper contacted Gushcloud, its co-founder Vincent Ha said the company could not comment because it was still "investigating the matter".
Mr Ha later released his firm's apology saying that "we have let our influencers and client down with the way the campaign turned out and we are sorry".
He added, on Gushcloud's Facebook page: "We remain open to work together with any party including... industry members to make this industry better through self-regulation and having proper channels for recourse."
But he also said that "we do not condone the actions of Ms Wendy Cheng, because we feel it has done far more harm than good to our industry".
Meanwhile, both StarHub and M1 have raised the matter with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
IDA said it is investigating the matter.
Further investigations have revealed that our staff who worked with Gushcloud on the marketing campaign in June last year did not adhere to Singtel's marketing standards.
- Singtel's VP of consumer marketing Mr Johan Buse