Not a copycat: Ad agency defends controversial tourism campaign


Posted at Jun 13 2017 02:50 PM

MANILA- The advertising agency behind the new "Experience the Philippines" ad dismissed allegations it plagiarized South Africa's 2014 tourism campaign, saying there was no intent to copy.

McCann Erickson explained in a statement that the new Department of Tourism campaign video "Sights," was really inspired by the testimonial of a visually-impaired foreigner who visited Manila.

"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," McCann said in a statement Tuesday.

Netizens earlier pointed out striking similarities between the Philippine's new tourism video which featured blind Japanese retiree M. Uchimura, with a South African tourism ad which also featured a blind man whose disability was revealed when he pulls out a walking cane.

McCann acknowledged the criticisms the video has been receiving but argued that there "has never been any intention to copy others’ creative work." 

"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. We take full responsibility as ALL ideas and storyboards presented were conceptualized by McCann Worldgroup Philippines," the company said.

"However, we underscore that there has never been any intention to copy others’ creative work," it added.

Tourism Asec. Frederick Alegre on Tuesday morning also denied that the concept was a rip-off of South Africa's ad.

"[It is] not a rip-off, definitely this is experiential," Alegre said in an interview with ANC's "Early Edition."

"Our ad that was released yesterday was beautifully executed. While it has similarity with the ads of South Africa, the biggest difference really is that is a true story. The Japanese retiree is an actual retiree residing in the Philippines," he added.

"Experience the Philippines," the country's latest tourism campaign was launched Monday, in time for the 119th Independence Day celebrations.