What do AIA, A*star and Nestle have in common? Think hard. I would be surprised if anyone had noticed it...but you never know, perhaps someone has spotted the same thing that we have.
Think about it a moment. What have each of these organizations done? More precisely, what kind of imagery have each of these organizations used?
No wiser? Well, I will tell you: each of them has run adverts containing apparently prodigious young chemists. Now, for any of you who have been paying attention these past couple of years, that will have a familiar ring to it. Those who are regular readers of this blog will know that, in actuality, there is only one prodigious young chemist in Singapore (in fact, there is only one presently known in the world)...my son, Ainan. It is strange, therefore, that these three organizations should choose to "create" fictional advertisements containing the imagery of prodigious young chemists. You see, in the real world, they just aren't that abundant...in fact, there is only one around at this time. What they are doing, therefore, is stealing an image from the real world: Ainan in a Chemistry lab - and cloning it for an advertisement using "a generic child in a Chemistry lab". It is not clever. It is another instance of Singaporean copying, in fact. It is also dishonest on several levels. Firstly, in the real world, these prodigious young Chemists don't exist (they are extremely uncommon...); secondly, the one that does exist could have been asked to do the ads (this would have have shown integrity - but they don't have any); thirdly, they have exaggerated the situation to an absurd degree, distorting everyone's understanding of the truth of Singaporean education.
Let us look at the ads more closely. Nestle used a mixed race boy (he looked a cross between Malay and Chinese, to my eyes), in a Milo ad, placed in a Chemistry lab. He looked to be about eight years old. This came out last year and is an OBVIOUS theft of imagery from another mixed race boy - Ainan Celeste Cawley - who, in real life, was eight years old, and spending his time in a Chemistry lab. We were disgusted to see this ad for two reasons: firstly, it had stolen Ainan's life story and used it to sell Milo (something he would never drink, for reasons which should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about what is good to drink); secondly, other companies such as Brand's Essences actually SPONSOR the people whose images they use (they have a long running campaign using PSLE success stories). By comparison to Brand's, therefore, Nestle look like dishonest, unscrupulous CHEAPSKATES...who utterly lack integrity.
Funny enough, I rang the Milo marketing department to complain about this use of imagery. The spokeswoman claimed that it was "creative license"...and then backtracked to claim that "no-one in our entire marketing department has ever read of Ainan and we don't have time to watch TV". I found this darkly funny. They are a marketing department. They are supposed to be kept informed about what is going on in the world - but they claim that no-one in the entire Nestle marketing team had read a newspaper in the last couple of years and that they had all missed the twenty or so articles that had appeared in various newspapers in that time. She also claimed that none of them watched Channel News Asia (he had been on that before the ads came out). So, we are supposed to believe that the marketing department is completely uninformed and so overlooked Ainan and COINCIDENTALLY created exactly the same imagery. Isn't it rather more likely that the Singaporean staff stole his image and copied it, right down to the detail of using a mixed race boy of the same age? Nestle's marketing team are either stupid and lazy (their own excuse) or dishonest, lying plagiarists (the more likely interpretation).
She then covered herself with a very funny remark. She said: "Even if we had read the articles, they made no impression on us at all."
Great. They had such a lack of impression that they ended up copying the imagery exactly. I am left to conclude that either they are a deluded bunch...or a lying bunch. Perhaps they are both.
The A*star ads ran on TV and showed two young chemists - a boy and a girl - of about seven years old, in a lab setting doing experiments. Then it showed them grown up and gave them real life names. Now, to me, this looks even more dishonest. It is saying that a prodigious childhood as chemists was the true story of these children, who are now adult researchers - and I am sure that that is not true. Were it so, we would know about it from other sources. So, this kind of lie involves REWRITING the history of its researchers to be like Ainan is. Again, this form of lying to the public distorts the truth of Singaporean education and gives the impression that Singapore is stuffed full of prodigious chemists - when it only has ever had one.
The most recent example of this tendency to steal imagery and abuse the life story of Ainan comes from AIA. They have run ads today in the Today newspaper showing three very young children - they look to be about six years old - doing chemistry lab work. Again, this is dishonest imagery. There are NO six year olds doing chemistry lab work in Singapore - not one. The only one who did so was Ainan. However, now, they have a whole bunch of them, in the image. This projects a lie about Singaporean youngsters. The copy line is "We are nurturing the world of tomorrow"...what RUBBISH! If they were, really, nurturing the world of tomorrow they would have sponsored AINAN for the ad and not stolen his imagery to use with other kids. AIA is not supporting anything but AIA - and the lie that Singapore's education has somehow achieved world supremacy.
What this use of a type of image which became current in Singapore before any of these ads came out, when Ainan started appearing, featured in chemistry labs, doing chemistry work, at the age of 7, in national and international newspapers, shows is that AIA, Nestle and A*star lack integrity in their marketing. It also shows that they are not above reworking the life story of a Singaporean child to make marketing copy for themselves. The images used are true of only one child in Singapore - Ainan - yet none of these organizations contacted us. They could have done so and could have sponsored Ainan. Now, this is a very serious point. HAD they used Ainan for the images, then the images would have been TRUE. They would have shown the truth to the world. Instead, they preferred to lie to the world. It was easily within reach of them to have adverts that had been made with integrity and that had not abused anyone. However, they preferred images which were lies, instead of the truth they were based on.
In more honest countries, with more honest organizations, Ainan would have been sponsored by these organizations to do the ads. That would have been the fair thing to do. As it is, however, they chose to steal his image, and use it to advertise their products, without credit to him, using child models in his place. Presumably, these cheapskates thought it cheaper to steal his image and make a fake "reality" than to use a real person and have to pay a sponsorship fee. Ultimately, however, they have, to my mind, damaged their image, by demonstrating that they value a few dollars more than they do the truth. They would rather lie cheaply...than to tell the truth at a fair price.
My response to this: never buy AIA products; never eat Nestle foods (including Milo)...and forget about A*star. I prefer to find companies with integrity to do business with.
What is most interesting about this is that these three organizations are all very large and very rich. They could easily have afforded to sponsor Ainan rather than steal his image. Brand's Essences are, to my knowledge, a much smaller concern...yet they are HONEST enough to directly sponsor PSLE students to appear in their campaigns. They don't MOCK UP models to LOOK LIKE the students. They do business the honest way...so why can't the big boys do so, too? It seems that the richer they are, in Singapore, the cheaper - and more dishonest - they get.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to:http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.
We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: http://www.genghiscan.com/
IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals.If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, (which will probably take several months before they are accepted) please go to: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3438598/
As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of credits...so please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3305973/
My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3463926/
This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)
Labels: A*star, AIA, ASTAR, cheapskates, cheating, chemistry prodigy, deceiving the public, fake images, image theft, lying to the world, milo, Nestle, Plagiarism, precocious chemist, thieves