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The Bear Youtube video that cried wolf

Philips Electronics Singapore yesterday apologised for featuring a Youtube video of a “bear” let loose along Ulu Pandan Road. This Youtube video was part of a guerilla advertising campaign but send both the public and reverent authorities into a wild a goose chase for a missing bear.

Dutch electronics giant Philips is under investigation in Singapore after a marketing campaign for a new shaver triggered a search for a wild bear.

Philips issued a public apology after a fuzzy video of a bear-like creature was sent to a social-media website by a marketing firm on Wednesday, triggering a search by zoo officials -- armed with a tranquiliser gun -- and animal-welfare activists.

The "bear" was actually just a mascot pretending to rummage through a rubbish bin in Ulu Pandan, a residential and school district with pockets of thick foliage.

The same article also wrote that the Singapore Zoo and members of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES)  went searching for the missing bear at Ulu Pandan Road.

The social media agency highlighted that it approached the Singapore Police if it was necessary for a license to conduct such a filming which was that it was not needed.

However, the agency should have taken an extra step to warn the Singapore Zoo, ACRES or any animal welfare agencies to inform them of this upcoming guerilla campaign.

In January 2010, Singapore Post had to make an official apology when it ran a guerilla campaign when it got a shadowy masked figure dubbed the Inkman to spray paint six post boxes. Concerned Singaporeans called the police to investigate these acts of vandalism.

The problem with such guerilla advertising campaigns is that while the purpose of it is to garner attention, it puts the targeted audience in a spot to decide whether such activity is an advertising campaign or really an act of malice.

As a result of Singapore Post’s spray paint activities, SMRT staff mistook graffiti found on one of their train for an advertising campaign in June this year.

What if a real bear was spotted and concerned Singaporeans called the Singapore Zoo but nobody believed it as the staff thinks its another “guerilla advertising campaign”?

Humans tend to over-react. Even when radio was the only form of broadcast, some listeners took the simulated news bulletin broadcast of the War of the Worlds took it as a real news broadcast with “1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were genuinely frightened".

The bear video might have linked to Philips’ tagline of a “Close Shave”, the activity has put Philips into the pages of infamy of social media disasters.

Here’s the video.

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