Bad ASAS getting too tough on social media advertising?

Dec 11, 2015 02.04PM |

by Abraham Lee

THE Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), an advisory council under the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), recently released a draft of digital and social media advertising guidelines on Dec 7. The eight page document pertains to “advertising and marketing communications that use social media to promote goods and services or to influence consumer behaviour”. They are requesting for feedback from the public until January 8, 2016. The draft goes down to the nitty-gritty details of what marketers are allowed to do and how advertisements are to be presented to the consumer. However, while the proposed guidelines try to be thorough, some sound overly restrictive, others outright ridiculous and raise questions on how they will be enforced.

Here are six key ways the new proposal will change your online viewing experience:

1. Endorsements must pass a lie detector test… though it’s unclear who will administer it

What the proposal says: “Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experience of the endorser. An endorsement must not convey any express or implied representation that would be deceptive if made directly by the advertiser”.

What this might look like:


2. Marketing communications should be clearly distinguishable from personal opinions

What the proposal says: “The foremost principle is that all marketing communication must be identified as such and distinguished from editorial or personal opinions… Advertisements should not appear like impartial or casual tweets on a user’s Twitter account if they are actually advertisements endorsing a specific sponsor, product or service or product name.”

What this might look like:

3. Disclosures will now be in-your-face

What the proposal says: “Disclosures for paid native advertising units should therefore be clear and prominent”.

In fact, ‘Disclosures’ has a sub-section of its own and Section 3.6 states that marketers must make these disclosures distinguishable from editorial content, discernible, both visually and audibly, and placed where consumers can easily read them.

What this might look like:

(Back to the bling-bling age of the early-2000s we go..! Image from GIPHY)

4. No inflation of social media likes / Marketers can’t ask you to “like, share or comment”

What the proposal says: “Marketers must not induce people to like, share or use social plugins so as to falsely suggest that the contents are more popular than they really are”.

What this might look like:

5. Companies must be able to prove that their marketing emails are not spam

What the proposal says: “Individually addressed unsolicited marketing communication via digital interactive media should only be conducted where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the consumer who receives such communications has an interest in the subject matter or offer…”

What this might look like:


6. The onus is on the company to bar minors from entering their age-restricted websites

What the proposal says: “Websites devoted to products or services that are subject to age restrictions such as alcoholic beverages, gambling and tobacco products should undertake measures to restrict minors from accessing such websites.”

What this might look like:



Featured image by Najeer Yusof.

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