Excitement over the Philippines’ new tourism banner, ‘Love the Philippines’, collapsed when a promotional video for the launch of its campaign allegedly used material shot in destinations outside of the country.
Philippine blogger Sass Rogando Sasot had posted on Facebook that several images in the campaign video were from other countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. Some of the images showed aerial shots of sand dunes in Cumbuco, northeastern Brazil, while other footages feature a fisherman casting a net, while wearing a hat not typically worn in the Philippines, and a person driving a buggy over sand dunes in the UAE.
DDB, the agency contracted by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) to produce the video, admitted responsibility and "profusely" apologised to the Department, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, as well as the Filipino people "for the apparent use of non-original/stock footage" in the video shown during the launch of the 'Love the Philippines' campaign.
"While the use of stock footage in mood videos is standard practice in the industry, the use of foreign stock footage was an unfortunate oversight on our agency's part. Proper screening and approval processes should have been strictly followed. The use of foreign stock footage in a campaign promoting the Philippines is highly inappropriate, and contradictory to the DOT's objectives," it noted in its response on July 1 to the visual snafu.
The DOT, for its part, recalls that during the various meetings and consultations to the tourism brand enhancement, it "repeatedly sought confirmation from DDB on the originality and ownership of all materials contained in the AVPs and key visuals presented to the department”, with repeated assurance from the agency.
The DOT on Monday said that it will terminate its contract with DDB Philippines. It added that no payments had been made to DDB for the branding campaign.
Shot in the Philippines: Aerial view of the beautiful lagoons and limestone cliffs typically found in Coron, Palawan. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/kbarzycki
Trade weighs in on new campaign
There has been mixed reaction about the controversial video from tourism industry veterans and communication specialists.
Bob Zozobrado, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, shared his thoughts: “You know how it is – client contacts advertising agency, which then produces the material that the client needs. Why should the blame be on DOT? The ad agency should be held responsible for what they did.”
I still support the new slogan ‘Love the Philippines’ because of the message it tells the people who see it.
He added, “I still support the new slogan ‘Love the Philippines’ because of the message it tells the people who see it.”
Fe Abling Yu, president of the Phlippine Tour Operators Association, noted: "I'd like to reiterate that disunity at this time is useless and unproductive when there's so much to do for our industry. As far as the non-usage of Philippine scenery by DDB, I believe DOT officials, led by Sec Frasco, was very quick to respond and the same is under investigation. Of course, whoever is at fault, should be responsible.”
Ramon Isberto, former head of giant local telco SMART’s public affairs and now a consultant on Media Information Literacy, said that the unfortunate development “has muddled the colourful discussion about the new DOT tourism campaign slogan”.
“Now that DDB has taken responsibility for this snafu, I hope that discussions will refocus on the merits of the campaign,” he added.