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Congressmen seek probe of ‘Love the Philippines’ fiasco

A GROUP of congressmen is seeking to investigate the gaffe involving the Philippines’ latest global tourism campaign in which the ad agency used stock footage from other countries.

“It is imperative that we shed light on this ‘Frasco fiasco’ to ensure that public funds are being utilized appropriately and that there is no undue influence from individuals associated with the Marcos regime,” Deputy Minority Leader and Party-list Rep. France L. Castro said in a statementat the weekend. 

“While the Department of Tourism stressed that no public funds have been paid for the video, Congress should investigate the matter if there are lapses in appropriate laws, rules and regulations, especially that billions of public funds and resources were allocated for such rebranding,” the lawmakers said in an unnumbered resolution. 

The Tourism department got P1.27 billion from the National Government for its branding campaign this year, 37.3% higher than the Tourism Secretary’s budget and more than thrice the last year’s budget, the congressmen said.

The agency last week said it would terminate its contact with the ad agency that designed its global campaign after it was found to have used stock footage of destinations in other countries for its “Love the Philippines” promotional video.

In a statement, it noted that DDB Philippines, the contractor, had publicly apologized and taken full responsibility for using nonoriginal materials in its audio-video presentation, which drew flak when it was launched on June 27.

DDB Philippines has called the presentation a “mood video to excite internal stakeholders about the campaign.”

Tourism Secretary Christina G. Frasco has said DDB Philippines had not been paid.

“Congress is duty-bound to ensure that public funds were used efficiently and effectively, and that government agencies are held accountable for their actions,” according to the resolution.

Aside from Ms. Castro, also signing the resolution were Party-list Reps. Arlene D. Brosas and Raoul Danniel A. Manuel.

“Love the Philippines” replaced “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” which was launched in 2012 under the late President Benigno S.C. Aquino III and which Filipinos loved instantly. The 2012 campaign also won international awards during its lifetime.

It replaced “Wow Philippines,” which was launched in 2002 under then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and which also easily got the thumbs up of many Filipinos.

Brand experts have criticized the slogan for its lack of creativity and for sounding like a command. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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