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3 Times the Tourism Department Was Caught "Copying"

Third time's the charm?
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The similarities between the latest Department of Tourism (DOT) TV ad under the "Experience the Philippines" campaign and South Africa "Meet South Africa" cannot be ignored. It's all right there for everyone to see.

To see is to believe

The most obvious similarity of all: Both ads use blind men as the lead characters. South Africa's ad, though, was launched in 2016. The Philippine ad is fresh off the production line.

Here's the recent DOT ad.



Here's the 2016 South Africa tourism ad.

Naturally, there have been people who expressed their disappointment over the DOT ad by uttering the most dressed P-word: "Plagiarism!" Then again, this isn't exactly the first time that the DOT has been embroiled in a copycat controversy.

Double Trouble

The last time DOT promotional materials didn't have any copycat controversy attached to them was during the time of Secretary Dick Gordon (February 2001 to February 2004).

The "Wow Philippines" campaign launched during Gordon's time remained problem-free during the time of his successors Roberto Pagdanganan (February 2004 to September 2005) and Ace Durano (September 2005 to June 30, 2010).

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In 2010, with Noynoy Aquino as the new President, Alberto Lim took over as DOT chief. His stint was rather short—from June 30, 2010 to August 12, 2011. Lim cited personal reasons for his 2011 resignation. However, people theorized that the real reason was the "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" (rough translation: "Philippines So Beautiful") fiasco, wherein the much-bashed tagline was accompanied by a logo that was a copy of a logo used for Poland's tourism campaign.

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Lim was replaced as DOT chief by the charismatic Ramon Jimenez, who was well-known in the advertising industry. However, his stint produced the "It's more fun in the Philippines" tagline, which was criticized for ripping off a 1961 tourism ad for Switzeland declaring  "It's more fun in Switzerland!"

Jimenez stated, "No one can own the expression 'it's more fun,' but it's very true for the #Philippines so it becomes ours."

While Jimenez's response to the issue was smooth, it still didn't change the fact that the Swiss tourism campaign used it first. Then again, "It's more fun in the Philippines" had more staying power than "Pilipinas Kay Ganda."

The Agency Explains

The agency behind the controversial video has spoken up regarding the alleged controversy. In their statement, McCann Worldwide Group says:

"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...We acknowledge the feedback that the way this story was told may have similarities with the South African tourism campaign. 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."

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McCann also added that there was no intention to copy other people's creative work. 

Spot the Problem

This petty problem at the DOT is just another symptom of something that's fundamentally wrong with some people in government service. They don't have an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset. They operate more along the lines of "Who the hell cares if it ain't broke? We still have to replace it so we get the credit and those who came before us won't be getting praised anymore."

Then again, why the heck should we be so hard on the DOT? We already have a senator who is practically the poster boy of plagiarism.

Perhaps, we should all just "tone down" our standards and learn to appreciate all things mediocre annd half-assed—or else we'll be accused of ruining Philippine tourism by current DOT chief Wanda Teo.

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F. Valencia
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