Singapore—You could almost hear the country give out a collective wince when Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf featured a Chinese soldier for its SAF Day promotion.
Ahead of SAF Day on July 1, the popular coffee house chain posted a promo on its Facebook page that it was offering 50% off on its Ice Blended drinks from July 1 to 7 for all SAF Personnel in uniform, or for those who presented their SAF11B Card is presented.
Unfortunately, an obvious mistake that netizens spotted but one that the Coffee Bean marketing staff failed to see was that the soldier featured in the photo was a young man in a Chinese armed forces uniform, instead of a Singaporean one.
Netizens were quick to point out the gaffe, drawing attention to the fact that the man was dressed in a People’s Liberation Army Navy uniform, and that even the rifle he bore was different.
Coffee Bean very quickly put the post down and issued an apology, writing,
“We are sorry. Our SAF Day Celebration artwork that went out earlier was incorrect. We sincerely apologize for the mistake. Thank you very much for your comments and kind understanding.”
The company then re-issued a post still featuring the promotion but playing it safe this time by replacing the soldier with a photo of an ice blended drink.
A number of commenters good-naturedly treated it as a joke, teasing the coffee chain that as NSMen their feelings were offended and demanding free coffee for the rest of their lives, or joking that they were making a switch to Starbucks.
Others joked that the company was cutting costs by leaving the marketing to lowly paid interns.
Others pointed out that while the replacement photo no longer had the wrong image, it did, however, contain a grammatical error.
Another commenter said that if the company would hire him, he would do a better job.
Others blasted the negative commenters and praised Coffee Bean for taking quick action, even though the gaffe had been made after hours and on a weekend.
However, some customers expressed what seemed to be genuinely hurt feelings, saying that national pride was at stake.
Some said that if Coffee Bean had used a photo of their male staff in their NS uniforms, that would have resonated well with Singaporeans.
What do you think? Are some netizens right to make a fuss over Coffee Bean’s SAF Day gaffe? Or are they just being overly sensitive?/ TISG
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