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New DOT slogan sparks debates

MANILA, Philippines - The new slogan and marketing campaign of the Department of Tourism (DOT) has sparked passionate debates online and was such a hit that some Facebook and Twitter users have come up with their own posters showing why “it’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Despite the criticisms over the new slogan, the DOT said it would push through with the new campaign in promoting the country as a premier tourist destination.

DOT Assistant Secretary and spokesman Benito Bengzon brushed aside criticisms that the new slogan was similar to a vintage tourism ad of Switzerland in 1951.

Bengzon said it was just a “coincidence” and the DOT is not about to hold off the new slogan.

“We would not back out because we feel that it is an effective campaign. The new tagline is precisely what we offer,” he said.

Shortly after launching the new slogan on Friday, there were some criticisms on social networking sites that the catchphrase adopted by the DOT was similar to a 1951 advertisement of the Swiss National Tourism Office that read - “It’s more fun in Switzerland.”

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Bengzon though gave assurance that the DOT slogan was not copied from Switzerland.

“The (Swiss) campaign was used in the 50s. Siguro meron lang naghalungkat nyan kung may kapareho (Probably somebody must have dug it up if it were the same),” he said.

Bengzon said the DOT is now raring to see “how effective the slogan is in communicating our message” to international travelers. The DOT had contracted advertising firm BBDO Guerrero to craft the new slogan.

In his Twitter account, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said BBDO chairman David Guerrero would rather “slit his throat than copy something.”

Jimenez swiftly rejected the new copycat allegations.

“The line isn’t a manufactured slogan. It is simply the truth about our country. Don’t be swayed by people who are trying to punch holes in it... No one can own the expression ‘it’s more fun’ but it’s very true for the Philippines so it becomes ours,” Jimenez said.

“If you look hard enough, you might even find an old ad that says ‘it’s more fun in Alcatraz!’” he added, referring to the notorious former US prison.

Last year, the DOT withdrew its “Pilipinas kay Ganda” campaign tagline after it was alleged to have been copied from Poland’s tourism slogan.

Online, the new slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” has gone viral.

One Facebook user posted a photograph with his “winning smile” and labeled it: “Smiling. More Fun in the Philippines.” It went with so many other different versions of the ad.

Lawyer Theodore Te also wrote in his Facebook account that he was able to quickly identify with the ad campaign because it was true.

“In the way that ‘Wow! Philippines’ started the conversation but never got to finish it, this new campaign attempts to jumpstart that conversation in the same vein and invites us, who know and love the Philippines, to complete the sentence. And, that’s part of the fun,” Te said.

Dennis Gorecho, who described himself as a Manila lawyer, criticized the DOT for spending a large amount of money on a copycat ad and linked to a website of the old Swiss poster.

“DOT spent millions - to come up with an ad campaign that seemed to have been used from one that is already more than 60 years old,” he wrote on his wall on Facebook.

“Uh, ok, so Switzerland used ‘It’s more fun-’ - in 1951. That’s 61 yrs ago. Even intellectual property rights expire after 50 yrs,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said, repeating another lawyer’s Twitter comment.

Other critics said they preferred the old slogan “Wow! Philippines.”

“It may be true that it’s more fun in the Philippines but ‘Wow! Philippines’ was a far better tourism slogan,” one tweeted.

For Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the new slogan cannot attract tourists.

Rodriguez said the new slogan launched by the DOT was “not worth the millions of pesos spent for it.”

He described the new slogan as “plain, generic.”

“I’m greatly disappointed that after all the meetings and expensive bidding, this is all the Filipinos get. It’s plain, generic and not catchy. It’s not worth the millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money. I think they just thought of it in a few minutes and stuck to it so they don’t have to work anymore thinking of more ideas,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez cited reports that the DOT paid more than P5 million for the new campaign slogan.

Rodriguez also hit advertising executives who dismissed criticisms that the slogan was the same as the one used by Switzerland before.

“Have we come to this? That we condone copycats?” he asked.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone earlier said he welcomed the new slogan but thought “Wow! Philippines” sounded better and was shorter.

Evardone said “Wow” is a positive universal expression understood by many, including non-English speaking people.

The negative reactions were also noted on Facebook and Twitter in pointing out the ad agency hired by the DOT should have produced something more original, shorter, catchy and easier to say. They said it was too elementary that even a grade schooler could pull off.

Malacañang had expressed its support for the new tourism slogan despite the criticisms.

Malacañang also countered the travel advisory issued by the US on the day the new tourism marketing strategy was launched.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine government was doing its best to ensure the safety and security of everyone in the country.

Valte said there had been incidents in the past where the government and the people had learned from to ensure the safety and security of tourists in the country.

“If you also take the general precautions and you do not disregard your safety, there are many beautiful sights to see and there are many good things to do...it is more fun in the Philippines,” Valte said.

Despite many natural wonders and more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines has long lagged behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in attracting tourists.

Poor infrastructure, corruption and poverty are the some of the factors holding back the country’s tourism industry. - Aurea Calica, Sheila Crisostomo, Paolo Romero

 

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