Titled “Gau Do – Gan Ket Yeu Thuong,” (Red Bear – Tie People’s Love) , the commercial promoting the Red Bear Instant Noodle brand recounts the story of Tuan, a child cancer patient whose family cannot afford treatment.
Through the heart-wrenching ad, noodle producer Binh Duong-based Asian Foods Corporation announces that VND10 (US$ 0.00048) will be donated to help child patients on each sold packet of Gau Do (Red Bear) noodle.
Many viewers had been moved after watching the advertisement and called the company’s hotline with the hope of donating money to help Tuan. However, they got furious after being explained that Tuan is just a fictional character for illustration purposes only.
Reader Tran Thien Quan said charity is non-profit matter while advertisement is about making profits. “We can’t link the two things together. Using charity in a commercial doesn’t make any sense. Though it also draws people’s attention to disadvantaged people, to me, such ad is counterproductive”.
Lu Lam Uyen, an instructor in Competition Law at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics’ Law Faculty, said she was shocked watching the advertisement. According to her, Vietnam does not have detailed regulations for commercials taking advantage of people’s compassion.
The law forbids it?
Tran Bao Minh, deputy CEO of Asia Foods Corporation, claimed the company didn’t cheat customers. He also explained that the commercial-producing crew had thought carefully and decided to not film real patients since “they’re too weak to be filmed”.
“We can film the real patients but it’s too heartless,” he said. According to him, using a fictional character to stand for real people is not cheating.
Agreeing with Minh, a local expert on advertisement said it is normal around the world to use images that touch people’s hearts for advertisement campaigns. He also added that the commercial is a success since it has managed to evoke a spirit of solidarity among the Vietnamese.
However, according to the Government's Decree 64/2008/ND-CP, only government-controlled mass media agencies and some other state organs are allowed to call for public donations to help patients while the Asia Foods Corporation is just a share-holding company.