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Singapore puts new spin to mocked anti-gambling ad

Leslie Shaffer | Writer for
Singapore updates anti-gambling ad

Poor Andy.

After Germany trounced Brazil in the run up to the World Cup final, the child character from a Singapore anti-gambling ad became a worldwide object of ridicule for worrying about his father betting his piggybank on Germany.

But Singapore's National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) had a quick comeback for anyone expecting Andy to see a big payout.

In the new advertisement, another child asks Andy, "Your dad's team won. Did you get your savings back," to which Andy replies, "no, dad never stops. He wants to bet one more time."

The original advertisement spurred global mockery, picked up by international media as well as U.S. late-night TV host of The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon.

Even Singapore's own Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin got in on the act, commenting on his Facebook page that the ad was "Bad timing. Looks like the boy's father who bet all his savings on Germany will be laughing all the way to the bank," although he later edited the post to add that the advertisement's underlying concerns remain worrying.

But in the social media universe, the new ad quickly spawned more commentary, with many wanting to know which team "Andy's dad" will bet on next.

Local satirist Lee Kinmun, who posts on Twitter and Facebook with the name mrbrown, quickly created a meme using one of NCPG's previous television advertisements of a father attempting to talk his daughter out of her piggybank.

"You see, Andy? Daddy was right about Germany," the father says in the meme.

Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil in the World Cup semi-finals "surprised many," NCPG's spokesperson said in an emailed statement. But while the original advertisement aired before the start of the semi-finals, "as the campaign progressed, we took the opportunity to reinforce the fact that problem gamblers find it hard to stop, regardless of the outcome of any single bet."

After opening two casino-resorts in 2010, Singapore has actively tried to minimize the impact of gambling on its population, but it isn't clear how successful it has been.

NCPG's 2011 survey of Singapore residents found that around 47 percent aged 18 and over had participated in at least one form of gambling in the past 12 months and estimated that around 1.4 percent of the survey respondents should probably be classified as pathological gamblers.

Gambling may be a major contributor to Singaporeans who find themselves over their heads in debt.

Around one in four people seeking help with unsecured debts at Credit Counselling Singapore self-report that gambling losses, either by the individual or a family member, are a reason for getting in over their heads, Tan Huey Min, general manager at the registered charity said, although she noted that the bulk of the debt is usually owed to bank credit cards.

—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter