advertising industry

Saab Magalona on Belo’s pandemic ad campaign: ‘100% insensitive and tactless’

Saab Magalona on Belo’s  pandemic ad campaign: ‘100% insensitive and tactless’

ACTRESS AND SINGER. Saab Magalona, one of the celebrities tapped in Belo's controversial social media campaign, joins other critics of the ad campaign.

Saab Magalona's Instagram

Saab Magalona says the Belo group had invited her 'to post a reminder to love ourselves especially during these hard times,' which she did, not knowing about the controversial video that would air over a week later

Saab Magalona has called out the Belo Medical Group over its “pandemic effect” social media campaign which she described as “100% insensitive and tactless.”

Saab, one of the celebrities who took part in the ad campaign, said this in a tweet on Wednesday, August 11.  She clarified that she did not see the Belo group’s controversial video ad before she agreed to post about the campaign last week, and that she recognized how “triggering the ad” was. 

“As I’ve had my battles with depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), I’m well aware of how triggering the ad was and don’t take offense at all for the backlash I received for being part of the campaign,” she said.

“It was 100% insensitive and tactless. I wouldn’t promote or support a campaign that highlights and shames (unintentional or not) those of us badly affected by mental and emotional exhaustion given that we are all just trying to stay alive,” Saab added.

Saab explained that she took part in the campaign thinking that it was meant to uplift others in these trying times. Saab uploaded her Belo ad campaign post last August 1 with the caption, “Love yourself so you can add to the happy energy in this world!”

“They simply invited me to post a reminder to love ourselves especially during these hard times. So that’s what I posted: a reminder to keep doing the little things that make us happy amidst all the uncertainty. I used the hashtag thinking I was helping promote self-care and, understandably, people got upset after the ad aired!” she said.

Saab added that while the Belo team had already reached out to her to “apologize and acknowledge their poor choice of execution,” she hoped that the brand will now “actively promote diversity and inclusivity, as beauty comes in all shapes, shades and sizes.”

Saab spoke out about the controversial ad campaign a day after the Belo group led by celebrity dermatologist Vicki Belo drew flak online following the release of the video ad.

In that video, a woman is seen gradually having dark bags under her eyes, acne, facial and body hair, and gaining weight while watching pandemic-related news. At the end of the ad, a tagline that read, “tough times call for beautiful measures” and a call to book a consultation with Belo appeared. 

People online spoke up against the ad, criticizing it for being tone deaf and body shaming women in the middle of the pandemic. 

The video ad was part of a larger campaign, which also tapped several Filipino celebrities and influencers on social media, including Saab. 

The Belo group later removed the video ad from their social media platforms and issued an apology, saying that they recognized that the video was “insensitive and upsetting.” 

Gigil, the ad agency who behind the ad, issued a public apology over the video. Both Belo and Gigil promised to learn from the experience.

This isn’t the first time that a Belo ad was criticized online. In 2012, the brand ran a campaign for its men’s line that said “a little whitening makes a big difference.” – Ysabel Abad/