Why This Popular Motor-Hailing Service App’s Ad Drew Flak

Although known for their witty remarks and catchy jokes, Angkas seemed to have crossed the line with their recent online advertisement. Here’s why it went viral.

Angkas has made a name for itself—not just for its affordable transport services, but also because of its strong online marketing presence, thanks to its witty but relatable ads that ride on trends, so to speak. With over 800,000 followers on their Facebook page alone and millions of app downloads, many trust the company for its motorcycle-hailing services.

From time to time, the brand is known for releasing some promo codes that provide its users with discounts for their rides. This is usually posted alongside catchy graphics and puns, which turned out to be the same reason why they trended for the wrong reasons during this Father’s Day.

In this article, we look into what happened, what Angkas did after, and what could be learned from this.

What the Ad is About and the Reactions it Got

In line with Father’s Day, Angkas rolled out a promo code called ANGKASDADDY, which was accompanied by a graphic of a girl in a yellow shirt with a pained look on her face as she’s sticking out of a car roof. On top of it was a text that read: “Stepdad, I’m stuck (in traffic)”. The post also came with a caption that says “What are you doing stepdad?”

Screenshot taken from the Angkas Facebook page

Though the post may have gathered several “haha” reactions on Facebook, the post went viral, with negative comments from netizens, who pointed out how it promoted a culture of rape and sexual abuse. What’s more, the advertisement drew flak—not just on Facebook—but it also triggered several tweets and discussions on other social media platforms such as Twitter. 

“While I understand that this post is intended as humor and that it resonates with some people, I just wanted to bring it here in the thread na this post has the potential to trigger sensitive emotions,” expressed one of the top comments in the ad. Ayun lang, pwede namang maging nakakatuwa while maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment. Sana mindful tayo next time.”

[Translation: That’s it, we can be funny while maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment. Hope we can be mindful next time.]

On the other hand, public transport advocacy group Move as One Coalition organizer Hya Bendana also posted a tweet that had more than three million views. “This is a bad ad. You’re a male-led and male-dominated company promoting incest and unhealthy sexual power dynamics in an ad,” she tweeted.

Why the Advertisement Was Offensive

But why did the ad draw flak? For one thing, the “stuck” aspect of the ad references a common trope in pornographic sites, which is known as “stepfamily porn”. In fact, typing the phrase “Stepdad I’m stuck” on Google search immediately redirects the user to explicit sites.

This is why many were quick enough to correlate the two, thereby causing an outburst among those who saw it, especially women who saw it as an unhealthy way of promoting incest and sexual assault.

From 2019 to 2022, the DSWD recorded 851 incest cases involving girls and one case where the victim was a boy. In most cases, perpetrators ask their victims to not tell anyone about what happened, nor try to report it to authorities—given that this would be embarrassing for the family. Moreover, according to statistics, about 33% of sexual abuse is incest rape.

The worst part? Those are the only ones that happen to be recorded since a separate study shows that nearly 80% of sexual abuses remain unreported

This is why, whether unintentional or not, netizens perceived Angkas making a sexual joke about a stepdad for Father’s Day as a completely wrong turn and in poor taste, too.

What Angkas Did After

After being called out for their insensitive ad, Angkas took the initiative and deleted the post. Right after that, they also posted an apology on their page which read: “We sincerely apologize for our recent post that caused offense to members of our community. It was not our intention, nor will we ever support or permit even the slightest disregard of women’s rights and human dignity.”

“We won’t always get things done perfectly, but we in Angkas will always listen to our community. And we will always aim to serve with honesty, humility, and respect”, their statement added. 

This apology statement was well-received by many people, as the brand took accountability for what they had done wrong. Still, some commented that they hoped that this wasn’t a half-hearted apology and that this wouldn’t happen again in the future. 

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Angkas got dragged for their inappropriate remarks online. In fact, in 2019, they were also called out for posting “Angkas is like sex. It’s scary the first time but fun to do over and over again” on Twitter. The said issue was called out by the Philippine Police and the tweet was deleted immediately. They also issued an apology right after. 

What Businesses Can Learn From This 

Creating witty and catchy social media posts is one way to keep customers engaged with what the brand offers. Sure, posting jokes and puns can be one way to do it, but it should never be overdone. After all, jokes are meant to bring fun to people who read them—not cause offense or discomfort to the receiving end. 

With this entire Angkas situation, businesses may further realize the importance of being respectful to their clients and customers. They should also be more responsible with any piece of content they put out.

And although it’s true that good or bad publicity is still publicity, no one would want to get dragged online for bad publicity because, beyond a bad reputation and backlash, bad publicity can cause a dramatic sales decline and a loss of support from potential and existing customers—which is detrimental for any business.