21 August 2019
The National Council on Problem Gambling ad that was lampooned internationally as Germany won the World Cup. Photo: NCPG
The National Council on Problem Gambling ad that was lampooned internationally as Germany won the World Cup. Photo: NCPG

Singapore anti-gambling ad backfires as Germany win World Cup

Win some, lose some. But the people behind a Singapore government ad campaign against gambling lost big-time in the World Cup, becoming the butt of jokes at home and abroad.

To drive home the message that irresponsible gambling can lead to misery or worse, the National Council for Problem Gambling runs an ad, telling of a young boy named Andy who reveals to his playmates that his dad has bet all his savings on Germany in the football competition. As melancholic music plays on the background, the ad delivers the message: “Often, the people who suffer from problem gambling aren’t the gamblers.”

The ad was launched last month, just as the World Cup kicked off in Brazil, so nobody knew who was going to win. But as the days passed by, and Germany pursued their campaign with aplomb, people who continued to see the ad on television and elsewhere, realized that Andy has no reason to be sad at all — he and his dad should be jumping for joy. In their first match, Germany demolished Portugal 4-nil. 

After Germany destroyed host Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final, Singapore’s ad has become the talk of the town. And when Joachim Loew and his boys hoisted the golden trophy at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, after winning against Argentina 1-0 in the final, the ad’s ruin was complete.

On The Tonight Show, according to an Associated Press report, host Jimmy Fallon deadpanned: “Cheer up, kid, your dad bet on Germany. He’s so rich you don’t even need to go to college anymore.”

In Singapore, meanwhile, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin couldn’t resist making his own jibe. He wrote on Facebook: “Looks like the boy’s father who bet all his savings on Germany will be laughing all the way to the bank!”

Despite all the brickbats thrown its way, the anti-gambling council refused to pull out the campaign. In a statement, it said selecting Germany “injected a sense of realism in our messaging, since no one will bet on a potentially losing team”, AP reported.

In a way, the ad makers made a bet, and they lost.  

The council then posted a new ad on its website. This time around, Andy’s friend asks him: “Your dad’s team won. Did you get your savings back?”

Andy replies: “No, Dad never stops … he wants to bet one more time.”

Come on, guys, we got the message the first time. Just grin and bear it.

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The National Council on Problem Gambling TV commercial

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