K-pop agency SM Entertainment flamed for ad promoting online store selling masks

SM Entertainment, the South Korean entertainment agency who manages K-pop groups such as EXO, NCT, Super Junior, and SHINee, has cop flak for its recent Twitter post. The entertainment agency posted an ad for its online store, selling KN95 masks on its Twitter account "SMGlobalShop". It reportedly sold it for US$30 for a pack of five, according to The Malay Mail.

Since its upload, netizens have replied with negative comments saying the ad is "done in poor taste", and that the agency is "profiting off a pandemic". There were also comments asking SM Entertainment to donate the masks to hospitals and healthcare workers instead. A quick check by Marketing showed that the link to the shop has since been deactivated, and the listing have since been removed.

On the same day, SM Entertainment posted an updated tweet saying that it is donating masks to the workers at "Children's Hospital Los Angeles". The tweet added that it is also selling "very limited quantity" for people who do not have masks yet. "This is about caring people and helping our society. We are really sorry to everyone who have felt any uncomfortable," the entertainment agency added. 

sm global kn95 maskssm entertainment updated

Some netizens were, however, not satisfied with the brand's response. One netizen replied saying that the agency should have started donating the masks instead of trying to monetise the situation. Another netizen said the brand's donation is to "wash" its image. On the other hand, there were multiple netizens who said it is good that the brand is donating the masks instead.

The sale of masks has been a sensitive topic in this period of time. For the pastcouple of months, many eCommerce platforms have been flagged for its high-price masks listed on its platforms. Earlier this month, Lazada Thailand received a complaint from the Thailand's Ministry of Commerce (MOC). At the time of writing, search results on Lazada Thailand showed surgical masks priced at 93 baht and 1,247 baht each are still found on the platform, according to a quick check by Marketing. The listings have since been removed. Back in January, eCommerce platform Carousell also had listings for high-priced masks. According to multiple media reports then, surgical and N95 masks were resold on Carousell for as high as SG$288 for a box of 20. Those listings have been removed, and the current listings on Carousell are selling masks at a relatively reasonable price, from SG$0.40 to SG$4 per piece.

SM Entertainment's post comes at a time where global brands are all rallying efforts to help combat the COVID-19 situation. Spirits manufacturer Diageo said it will be donating up to two million litres of alcohol to manufacturing partners. The donation is to enable the partners to create more than eight million bottles of hand sanitiser, which will be used to help protect frontline healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19. The Coca-Cola Company also decided to halt all commercial advertising of Coca Cola and all its other brands in the Philippines and committing its advertising space and budgets towards supporting COVID-19 relief and response efforts for the most affected communities. Meanwhile, Luxury brand LVMH has also helped produce approximately 12 tonnes of hand sanitisers and distributing them free of charge to French health authorities to help with the shortage of medical supplies. 

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(Photo courtesy: SM Entertainment)