Despite authorities’ recent tightening of regulations around public advertisements, many in Ho Chi Minh City continue to supply leafleting services.
Government Decree 28/2017/NĐ-CP, which took effect on May 5, says that individuals employed to display ad banners in public places shall be fined from VND1 million (US$44) to VND2 million ($88), while those who own the advertisements shall be liable for a fine ranging from VND5 million ($220) to VND10 million ($440).
Handing out leaflets that compromise both urban esthetics and traffic safety will lead to a warning from authorities or a fine of up to VND500,000 ($22).
Despite this, the handing out of flyers remains a common practice, as does the plastering of these ads on walls, with businesses even purporting to offer the service.
Reporters from Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper followed a team of four people on Truong Vinh Ky Street in Tan Phu District on the night of June 26.
The group traveled on motorbikes, repeatedly stopping to stick sheets of paper advertising a pawn-broking service on utility posts up and down the street.
On June 5, the Tuoi Tre correspondents contacted a man named Hung after seeing recruitment information for leaflet distributors.
Hung invited the new employees to his office in an alley on Truong Chinh Street in District 12, where he directed their attention toward several folders of flyers on the floor.
“Each folder contains 300 leaflets. You will be distributing them at any time from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm every day. After you finish one folder, I will pay you VND150,000 [$6.6],” the employer explained.
Depending on the level of experience, a distributor could take two to three hours to complete gluing one stack of flyers, Hung said, adding that they would be sticking the ads on utility posts.
If the employees were caught by authorities, they would have to pay the fine themselves, Hung warned, advising that one should not bring along money or IDs when doing the job.
Hung, a recruiter at a leaflet service in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
According to several recruitment agencies, such leaflet services often employ people to supervise the distribution of their flyers.
An employee is also required to pay VND300,000 ($13) as a ‘responsibility fee’ in case they lose the leaflets, which is only refunded after one month of employment.
At another office in District 12, many were asking to work as flyer distributors for a wage of VND100,000 ($4.4) for every 250 leaflets pasted on utility posts.
Employees are warned that if they are caught cheating, they will be fired without being paid.
According to one man working at the office, distributors should avoid places such as schools and hospitals.
“If you are caught, you will be on your own,” he said.
Taking a slightly different approach, Nam, leader of a team of 10 ‘professional’ leaflet distributors in Tan Binh District, often provides his service to local companies.
Nam usually receives a bulk order of at least 5,000 leaflets or 200 ad banners from his clients.
He will charge VND130,000 ($5.72) for every 1,000 flyers handed out at road intersections and VND5,000 ($0.22) for each banner hung on a utility post.
Nam said he had his own office and a representative named Long to accept orders.
A man glues a leaflet to the wall of a house in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
During a meeting on June 7, Long gave Tuoi Tre reporters one of their full service packages, which included everything from designing and printing the flyers to handing them out.
Specifically, a stack of 3,000 leaflets advertising the sale of land will cost VND9 million ($396).
“You only need to tell us the details and where you would like the flyers to be distributed,” Long said.
“We do not, however, cover District 1 and District 4 as many of our teams have been caught while working in those neighborhoods,” he added.
After signing a contract, clients are required to pay 50 percent in advance and the job is promised to be completed in two days.
The leaflet team also take photos during the distribution as evidence.
“Our service is quite expensive as the practice is against the law. Each time a member of our team is arrested it costs us some VND1.5 million [$66],” Long continued.
The representative said that the ‘firm’ has operated for three years, and their services are advertised online.
In order to protect clients from authorities, Long advises that his clients use a new phone number.
“We have our own ways to deal with officers. Our clients will not be affected if we get caught,” he guaranteed.
Long, representative of a leaflet firm in Tan Binh District. Photo: Tuoi Tre