Issues hounding DOT’s ‘Love the Philippines’ tourism video earn global attention

July 3, 2023 - 1:10 PM
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The Department of Tourism announced its new campaign slogan on June 27, 2023. (Philstar.com/Rosette Adel)

Issues about the widely-talked-about video of the Department of Tourism used to launch the country’s new tourism campaign have earned global attention from different foreign news outlets.

The new tourism campaign of the Philippines made headlines after it was reported that the campaign video featured stock footage clips of locations from other countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

The clips were lifted from Storyblocks, a subscription-based stock footage website where users can access royalty-free clips, images and audio for creative projects.

The DOT launched the new tourism slogan “Love the Philippines,” accompanied by a campaign video last June 27.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco previously disclosed that the DOT spent P49 million for the entire study of the tourism campaign rebranding. This includes the creation of a logo and other components of this branding campaign.

RELATED‘Love the Philippines’ tourism campaign costs P49 million — DOT chief

“Love the Philippines” replaced former tourism slogans such as “Experience Philippines,” “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” “Pilipinas, Tara Na,” “Pilipinas Kay Ganda,” and “WOW Philippines.”

Over the weekend, however, some social media users learned that the DOT in its campaign video featured clips from other countries like Thailand’s fishing lake, Indonesia’s rice terraces, and sand dunes in Dubai, among others.

The DOT then said it was “currently conducting an exhaustive investigation to determine the veracity of, and to gather the full faculty of facts” concerning its new campaign video.

The tourism department said it had repeatedly sought confirmation from its contracted agency, DDB Philippines, on the originality and ownership of the materials used in campaign videos during various meetings and consultations.

“In ALL these occasions, DDB repeatedly assured the DOT that the originality and ownership of all materials are in order,” the DOT said in a statement.

“While no public funds have been paid for the audio-video presentation in question as this particular component of the launch was released on the account of DDB, the DOT holds responsibility for promoting the country to the highest standard,” it added.

The advertising agency also released its own statement, saying that while it was an industry practice to use stock footage or non-original clips in mood videos, using foreign clips was “an unfortunate oversight” on its part.

A mood video is primarily used to elicit a specific emotion from the audience, like excitement or calmness.

“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 Department of Tourism’s objectives,” DDB Philippines added.

It also said that the audio-visual presentation was produced “at its own expense” and that “no public funds were released.”

The controversial campaign video has already been taken down on social media and other platforms.

Nevertheless, the incident has captured global attention, with a Reddit user sharing a screengrab of a post compiling some reports of foreign news outlets and other websites about the criticisms and its aftermath.

Ayon kuha na Yung global attention #RobThePhilippines #Loveothercountries
by u/No-Edge7707 in Philippines

Among those that reported the probe into the tourism campaign were BBC News, Kuwait Times, and the Independent.

BBC’s headline reads: “Apology after Philippines tourism video uses foreign footage”

Kuwait Times also featured a social media post that reported on the incident.

The Independent likewise wrote about the flak with the headline: “Philippines tourism video used pictures of ‘rice terraces in Indonesia and dunes in Brazil’”

Other news outlets picked up the report via newswire Agence France-Presse.

These were Pakistan paper The International News, Middle East paper The National, Singapore paper The Straits Times, Australia broadcaster ABC, Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK, and Swiss French-language paper Le Matin, among others.

Filipinos found the incident “embarrassing.”

“Kahihiyan,” a Reddit user commented about the compilation of foreign reports.

“Another kahihiyan of the Philippines,” another Redditor reacted.

The launch of a new tourism campaign is in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.‘s pronouncement during his first State of the Nation Address, when he mentioned his vision to enhance the Filipino brand of tourism especially as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is also part of the government’s initiative to make the Philippines a “tourism powerhouse” in Southeast Asia, in accordance with the National Tourism Development Plan for 2023 to 2028.