Cancels DDB contract for slogan video after fiasco
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is terminating its contract with the ad company DDB Philippines after a promotional video it circulated online was exposed to have stock footage of other countries.
Although DDB owned up to the error, the DOT decided to cancel the contract for its new slogan campaign as the fiasco embarrassed the department and compromised the sincerity of the campaign.
International news services such as the BBC and CNN have carried stories about the tourism fiasco.
“The DOT is in solidarity with our fellow Filipinos in expressing our outrage and extreme disappointment at the use of non-original/stock footage purporting to be scenes from the Philippines in the audiovisual presentation (AVP) prepared, produced, and published by DDB Philippines as a component of the launch of the enhanced tourism branding campaign for the country,” the DOT said in a statement.
Under the terms governing the DOT’s tourism branding campaign contract with DDB Philippines, “material/s produced by the winning bidder should be original and aligned with the DOT’s advocacies.”
“The DOT reserves the right to change, suspend, or discontinue temporarily or permanently the contract at any time should the DOT deem the agency incapable of the project,” the contract reads.
DDB Philippines has publicly apologized, taken full responsibility, and admitted that non-original materials were used in their AVP, reflecting a failure to comply with their obligations under the contract and a direct contravention of the DOT’s objectives for the enhanced tourism branding.
No payments have been made to DDB under the tourism branding campaign contract, the DOT said.
Legislators expressed dismay over the tourism mess.
“The whole mess with the contractor using stock footage in the promotional video proves my earliest point about the DOT either apologizing to Albay or firing the consultant,” Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said.
Clearly, the exclusion of Mayon and other tourist attractions intrinsic to the Philippine brand was just a symptom of “trabahong tamad” (lazy work) that is now evident to everyone, Salceda said.
“Since the DOT will not be apologizing (because the video, supposedly, is just a first installment), the way forward seems clear,” Salceda said.
“The first video was supposedly a ‘mood video,’ according to the contractor. For something as critical as an entire country’s image, you don’t set the mood with plagiarism,” Salceda said.
Second, “as for the branding itself, the slogan is a creative decision best left to experts and its usefulness will be proven ultimately in tourist numbers. We will know soon enough if it works,” Salceda said.
“One lesson here is not to dismiss legitimate concerns as ‘political soundbites’ but to listen, consult, and discuss. The country’s branding is reflective of our identity and aspirations as a people: what’s wrong with wanting to be represented well in that?”
Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means committee, suggested nationwide consultations with tourism stakeholders on how to really rebrand and restart the country’s tourism sector.
“The back-and-forth of statements was good for revealing what needs to be improved. But we have to move forward. Let’s genuinely sit down and talk,” Salceda said.
Rep. France Castro of ACT Teachers raised concerns over the apparent similarity of the campaign slogan used in the DOT’s recent promotional materials to one previously used in Cyprus.
“The use of deceptive stock footage by the DOT is not only a disservice to Filipinos but also to foreigners who may be misled into believing that these images represent the beauty and attractions of our country,” Castro said. “This type of shoddy work undermines the credibility and integrity of our tourism industry.
She also highlighted the significant amount of public funds allocated for these promotional materials.
“The DOT allocated almost P50 million for this type of work. Taxpayers’ money should be used judiciously and with utmost transparency, especially when it comes to promoting our country,” she said.
Castro called on the DOT to rectify this issue promptly and ensure that future promotional campaigns are genuine representations of the beauty and diversity of the Philippines. She also urged concerned government agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and file appropriate charges.
“We deserve better. Our tourism industry deserves better. Let us uphold our commitment to honesty and authenticity in promoting our beloved nation,” Castro said.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III used the incident to twit the administration, saying the inclusion of footage from Indonesia, Thailand, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates in the promotional video was a reflection of its desire to “be friends with all nations.”
“So other countries were included in the DOT’s promotional video,” Pimentel said, calling the people behind the campaign as “very unprofessional.”
Senator Nancy Binay on Monday said it is unfortunate that the initial salvo of DOT’s new campaign suffered a major setback.
Binay, who chairs the Senate tourism committee, recalled this is not the first time that DOT and its agencies drew flak for “creative lapses.”
She said there should be accountability because public funds were spent by the DOT to pay the ad agencies.
“The DOT should also be more discerning and critical on pegs, concepts, storyboards, and drafts that ad agencies present to them. There were also lapses on the part of the client,” she said.
— Othel V. Campos and Maricel Cruz
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