MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A former chief of staff of the Department of Tourism (DOT) cried foul after Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte allegedly said the agency's old "Wow Philippines" campaign was a failure.
Carissa Coscolluela, who served as chief of staff of then DOT Secretary Richard Gordon from 2001 to 2004, defended their tourism slogan in an e-mail to ABS-CBN News.
She maintained that "Wow Philippines" was successful, adding that the DOT did not even spend money for the conceptualization of the slogan.
"I have just read some news articles containing Palace spokesperson Abigail Valte's comment that the 'Wow Philippines' tourism slogan under then DOT Secretary Dick Gordon was a failure and not effective. May I point out that the 'Wow Philippines' campaign was awarded Best Marketing Effort of a National Tourism Organization in the overall category in 2002 at the Internationale Tourismus Bourse in 2003," Coscolluela said.
"In addition to that, the DOT did not spend a centavo for the conceptualization of the 'Wow Philippines' tagline. Then Secretary Gordon thought of it himself. The DOT only started spending when we contracted BBDO to implement the campaign -- meaning, to come up with the materials, for which they added the 'More than the Usual' sub slogan," she added.
Coscolluela noted that back then, the DOT "did not have the money to spend on advertising."
"Despite this lack of funds... we managed to keep our tourism numbers at an increase when they were down in many parts of Asia," she explained.
Valte said Sunday that the "use of the old slogan did not bring in the numbers," local newspaper Manila Times reported. She did not say if she was stating a fact or giving an opinion on the issue.
In an opinion piece on ABS-CBNNews.com, former DOT Undersecretary Vicente Romano III said they dropped the "Wow Philippines" brand because it is either not understood or not appreciated in other markets such as Japan and the United States.
Romano took responsibility for the failed "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" campaign and quit his post in November 2010.
"We dropped it and used another slogan because there was no traction," he wrote.
DOT: New slogan is about positivity
On Monday, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said the idea behind the "It's more fun in the Philippines" slogan is "to create a phenomenon where every Pinoy will subscribe to a certain positive behavior."
Jimenez made the statement as several photos featuring things that are "more fun in the Philippines" have been making the rounds on the Internet, prompting others to come up with ideas of their own.
"Soon enough, we will be known for our positivity and this is going to be our brand image abroad. Our goal is to sustain and protect it," he said on Twitter.
Governors support new tourism slogan
Meanwhile, Governors' League spokesman and Palawan Gov. Abraham Mitra said they are expecting the new "It's more fun in the Philippines" slogan to boost tourist arrivals in the provinces.
"We are joining the bandwagon of support to the new slogan and will lead in our respective provinces the tourism campaign with it. We are very proud that we are now and will continue to be part of plugging our respective destinations unlike in the past when it was more general/national campaign in nature," Mitra said in a statement.
He added that "it is us (governors) who know know our resources and how to package it because we are from the area."
The DOT launched "It's more fun in the Philippines" in the international market and the shorter "#1 for fun Philippines" in the domestic market on Friday, months after the agency faced criticism over its failed "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" campaign.
Hours after the launch, some netizens attacked the DOT for allegedly plagiarizing Switzerland's 1951 tourism campaign.