Agency defends DOT ad: No intention to copy others’ creative work

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Agency defends DOT ad: No intention to copy others� creative work

Screenshot of Department of Tourism’s new tourism campaign video titled “Sights” with tagline “Experience the Philippines”released to the members of the media last Wednesday. Philstar.com / Rosette Adel

MANILA, Philippines — The advertising firm behind the Department of Tourism’s controversial tourism campaign video “Sights” on Tuesday took responsibility in the face of criticism and allegations of copying a South African travel ad.

In a statement, McCann Worldgroup Philippines reacted to criticisms that the DOT video was copied from the South African Tourism Board's video called “Meet New South Africa,” which showcased the experiences of a blind British traveller in South Africa.

McCann said it acknowledges the feedback that the way the story of Japanese retiree M. Uchimura, who was featured in the DOT video, has similarities with the South African tourism campaign. It added that it always strives to adhere to their guiding principle “Truth Well Told” and that it stands by the integrity with which the campaign was developed.

“It is unfortunate that the DOT has been called out and accused of plagiarism for work we have done to highlight the testimonial of a real retiree,” the advertising agency said.

“We take full responsibility as ALL ideas and storyboards presented were conceptualized by McCann Worldgroup Philippines. However, we underscore that there has never been any intention to copy others’ creative work,” it added.

WATCH: Side by side comparison of DOT, South Africa tourism ads

'Video inspired by retiree’s experience'

The advertising firm explained that they were only inspired by several stories about why foreigners choose to visit Philippines, citing responses such as hospitality, sense of family and genuine friendship.

“Our research has also shown that, of the millions of visitors who visit the Philippines, thousands of foreigners from over 100 countries have chosen to live and retire here,” McCann said.

“Our latest film, 'Sights,' was particularly inspired by the story of a visually-impaired foreigner who has made the Philippines his home and who has come to experience the Philippines in different ways.,” it added.

DOT Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre earlier said that many foreigners have decided to retire in the Philippines.

"We'd also like to add that we have been consistently putting out testimonials of foreigners in the Philippines and retirement is really a key pillar of the Department of Tourism... The Philippines is actually one of the best places in the world for retirees and we'd like to believe that the feature about the Japanese retiree really expresses what they feel about the Philippines," Alegre said in an interview with ANC’s Early Edition.

Asked if McCann knew about the South African video beforehand, Nina Terol, McCann’s AVP for Corporate said, the agency has yet to double-check that information.

New video to be released

The controversial DOT video released on Monday is the second in a series of advertisements that DOT will release in the coming months. Alegre said the third of the four videos is currently in the works and will feature tourist destinations in Visayas.

Alegre hinted that the next tourism campaign video will highlight the spirit of the Filipino people. 

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