Why Pinoys think takoyaki brand’s ‘scripted’ tattoo challenge is ‘exploitative’

April 8, 2024 - 4:09 PM
A branch of Taragis Takoyaki in Marikina in this photo posted on its Facebook page on Feb. 22, 2024 (TARAGISTAKOYAKI/Facebook)

A local takoyaki food brand was called “exploitative” for tapping into people’s emotions to execute its viral April Fools’ prank which was later revealed to be scripted.

In a Facebook video captioned “Taragis ‘The Revelation,'” Taragis takoyaki owner Carl Quion admitted that their plan for the P100,000 tattoo challenge started on Aug. 29, 2023.

It was executed starting March 28, 2024, a few days before April 1, also known as April Fools’ Day.

He admitted that the controversial post was a “big marketing stunt,” citing that he wanted his brand to go viral as he was not getting the level of engagement he wanted for his local business.

“Oo, nagsinungaling ako sa inyo at gusto kong humingi ng tawad. Dinala namin kayo rito sa isang malaking marketing stunt na may iba’t ibang klaseng emosyon, diskusyon, at pagpapakitang tao,” Quion said in the video posted on Saturday, April 6.

The businessman said that he asked his tattoo artist friend to find someone willing to have Taragis’ logo be inked on their forehead for the stunt, which includes a cash prize of P100,000.

Ramil Albano, a former fish ball vendor, volunteered and said he wanted to do it for his son who has Down syndrome. He was tattooed on March 28, but he only commented on April 1, as planned.

When his comment to Taragis’ April Fools’ post did not gain much traction, Quion said they released a statement noting they were “not accountable” for the events that occurred, namely Albano’s supposed tattoo initiative.

This went viral and Quion said that this was when they really put the plan into motion.

The owner said he was supposed to reveal the truth the next day, but he let other brands post their own initiatives to help Albano following their viral “not accountable” statement.

“Sa stunt na ito, maraming negosyante ang maraming pwedeng makinabang. ‘Di lang ako,” Quion said.

“Posible palang magbayanihan ang malalaking brand sa social media para lang sa isang tao,” he added.

The businessman also defended Albano by saying that the latter is not a “scammer.”

“Gusto kong sabihin sa inyo ang salitang salamat, at salitang patawad. Ang tanging tao lamang na kayang gumawa nito ay willing magsakripisyo. ‘Yung taong kayang itaya ang lahat,” Quion said.

He added that Albano only received over P200,000 from all the brands and personalities who pledged to give the tattooed man money for fulfilling the tattoo challenge after speculations the tattoo could be fake and after admitting it was scripted.

Quion said that based on computations, Albano was supposed to receive P1,366,000 or one million three hundred sixty-six thousand.

The Taragis owner stressed that all of the money was given to Albano and that he did not receive any amount from the offers.

RELATED: Pinoys dig up ‘Personal Injury Court’ ep on April Fools’ ‘tattoo disaster’ after viral P100K challenge‘You are the winner for us’: Gifts pour in for Pinoy who took April Fools’ tattoo challenge

Quion’s stunt earned mixed reactions from Filipinos who learned the truth about the incident.

Some called him out for “exploiting” people for the sake of a marketing gimmick.

“#BoycottTaragis. Never tolerate deception and prank as marketing strategy,” an online user.

“It is never good to start a business with lying and fooling your market. Kahit na may good side na nangyari (sa part ni mang Ramil) but dahil sa nangyari, people will be hesitant to help dahil baka maloko lang ulit sila. May mga businesses pa naman din nag-reachout for help,” another user wrote.

“Bad marketing. You’ll be known as the brand who exploited those who are in need. Pranks like this, scripted or not, is what I hate,” commented another Pinoy.

“He justified na tama ginawa niya [dahil] marami nagbigay ng monetary help kay tatay, [plus], nang dahil sa scam niya, madami siya natulungan na engagement sa ibang brands. Justify pa kahit scam [‘yung ginagawa]. He did all of it para umingay name ng business niya. What an a**hole!” a different user said.

Others, however, lauded Quion for having the intention to help Albano with his stunt.

“Well, need naman talaga ni Kuya Ramil. Let’s be happy to him,” an online user said.

“Kaya nga April Fool’s e, nice one boss, at least natulungan mo [si] tatay,” another Pinoy wrote.

“Salute sa’yo, sir, ang daming tumulong kay tatay dahil sa inyo,” commented a different user.

Digital media researcher Fatima Gaw, a former UP professor told ABS-CBN News that the takoyaki stunt was “not new” in the sense that marketing campaigns have used “varying degrees of deception” to create buzz for brands.

“But only well-planned campaigns consider the intents and risks of such manipulation,” she said.

“I think what made this recent social media stunt problematic is that they might not have considered the real economic vulnerability of some Filipino social media users who might have taken the challenge seriously,” Gaw added.

“Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho” also sought the insight of lawyer Erika Lectura, who said that both Albano and Quion can be held criminally liable.

“Parehas sila, puwede silang maging liable dun sa crime ng other deceits,” she said on Sunday.

In legal context, “other deceits” refers to the crime of deceit other than those stated in Articles 315 to 317 of the Revised Penal Code.

“Maaari din silang parehas na maging liable or managot dun sa damages na naging sanhi ng damage sa ibang tao, ‘yung sa mga tumulong o mga nagpaabot ng pledges or donations, provided na naglabas talaga sila ng pera,” Lectura added.

Social media expert Janette Toral also said that if they wanted to go viral, they could have released authentic stories instead.

Taragis previously went viral for challenging anyone to have their brand logo tattooed on their foreheads for P100,000. They later deleted the post and said it was for April Fools’ Day.

Social media users were surprised to learn that Albano took it seriously.

When the takoyaki brand said it would not be accountable for his actions, many other local brands swooped in to offer Albano the cash prize he had been promised.