July was one interesting month for Singapore. This is not only because of the General Election buzz, but also due to the incident involving social media influencer Wendy Cheng that most would be familiar with. Cheng was thrusted into the spotlight for comments she had made in back in 2009 and 2010 regarding the transgender community and migrant workers respectively.
Cheng was labelled as a "racist", and the incident also saw brands putting distance between them and the influencer, after a Google document surfaced listing all the brands Cheng had worked with previously.
In the latest turn of event, the creator of the Google document, Elouise Quek, has issued a public apology.
In her Instagram story post, Quek said she retracts all her previous allegations and statements, admitting that some of it were untrue because they were taken out of context. She added that she regrets causing Cheng to suffer financial losses due to the document circulated, and said she should not have started that campaign. She also promises not to contact brands and businesses to get them to demonetise Cheng anymore.
According to Quek, she and Cheng had a mediation session where she got to hear Cheng's views. In a separate post, Quek said she is happy with the outcome of this incident. Quek's apology came after Cheng served a harassment lawsuit against her.
In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Cheng said she is heartened by the outcome. She also revealed that many brands were supporting her throughout the incident in one way or another.
"Some personally texted me that the decision to drop me or make online statements were due to the immense public pressure they were facing, and not due to a bad assessment of my character or integrity," she added.
Cheng added that many of these brands that work with her has had very good relationships with her through the years and have done repeated campaigns because her ads "always do amazingly well". She attributes this to her honesty and said this trust can only come with being authentic with her viewers.
"You cannot be authentic without sometimes being disliked. There isn’t a single truly influential person in Singapore who hasn’t been 'canceled' before. I think brands need to understand this," she said, adding that authenticity is the bedrock of the influencer industry.
With the closure of this incident, Cheng said it is a sign for the brands that have been waiting to continue working with her. She added that some brands have already come back to engage her services, and she is confident more will follow suit. Additionally, Cheng is certain that this incident will cause people who want to organise demonetisation campaigns to think twice before doing it again, as they now know actions have consequences.
Even though Cheng has been embroiled in this case over the past few months, it has not stopped her from creating new content and ads for brands. Most recently, she launched her own podcast series titled "Xiaxue #NoFilter". The weekly podcast is said to feature Cheng's unfiltered commentary on interesting news happening around the world. She also cautions listeners to brace for a dose of brutal honesty and refreshing tirades.
Cheng told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that she chose to venture into podcasting as it is getting increasingly popular in Singapore. Additionally, she feels that this is a platform that suits her passion really well as she loves sharing her opinions and debating both sides on talked-about issues. "I’m really enjoying my recording sessions, and just doing research for the weekly topics makes me think a lot and learn a lot," she added.
The Xiaxue #NoFilter podcast series is said to be doing really well so far, and even ranking third on the local podcast charts. Cheng said she is looking forward to get some advertisers onboard as well. However, getting advertisers onboard will be the icing on the cake, as producing the podcast is something Cheng is thoroughly enjoying.
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