Sending clowns to hang around elementary schools proves to be a bad idea for a marketing campaign

The Speech Academy Asia, a public speaking program in Singapore, came up with the brilliant idea of sending clowns to hang around outside elementary schools and promote their offerings. Apparently they hoped the clowns would excite the kids so they'd encourage their parents to sign them up for the speech classes. Not surprisingly, the kids, along with their parents and school staff, were freaked the hell out. School administrators advised the children not to leave the school grounds while waiting for pick-up and to keep their wits about them.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin posted the above image to his Facebook with the comment: "Whoever is doing what I assume to be some viral marketing nonsense, stop it!"

From The Straits Times:

Apologising for the commotion caused, [Speech Academy Asia director Kelvin] Tan said the marketing team did not expect the backlash after getting the clowns to hang around outside primary schools as part of a campaign to encourage parents to register their children for their speech classes.

"There was no evil intention behind the costumes and we sincerely apologise for it," he said. "We will not do it again."

He denied suggestions that the clowns had persuaded the pupils to follow them. "Our employees wouldn't go around saying such things," he added.[…]

Mr Kelvin Tan said the company's roadshow team members were asked to don "cute mascots" as part of their outreach efforts but he was not aware that they would be dressed as clowns.

"Maybe the clowns were too scary. It's wrong and we won't do it again," he repeated.