No intention to copy anyone’s work, says agency of TV ad for DOT
“There has never been any intention to copy anyone’s creative work.”
This was the statement of the Makati-based McCann Worldgroup Philippines, the advertising agency that produced the latest campaign ad of the Department of Tourism, which gained criticism for being a “copycat” of a South Africa tourism ad released about two years ago.
Like the South African ad, the DOT ad “Sights,” which was released Monday, featured a foreign tourist, who turns out to be a blind person in the end, seemingly enjoying beautiful sceneries in the northern part of the country.
The McCann Worldgroup, which was contracted by the DOT during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to produce a series of campaign ads, took responsibility for the ad.
“We acknowledge the feedback that the way this story was told may have similarities with the South African tourism campaign,” Nina Tirol, McCann director for corporate affairs, said in a news conference on Tuesday at the DOT central office. “It is unfortunate that the DOT has been called out and accused of plagiarism, for work we hae done to highlight the testimonial of the real retiree.”
“We take full responsibility, as all ideas and storyboards presented were conceptualized by McCann,” Tirol added. “We also underscore that there was never been any intention to copy others’ creative work. McCann has always strived to adhere to our guiding principle ‘Truth Well Told’ in everything we do. We stand by the integrity with which this campaign was developed.”
She would neither confirm nor deny if members of the creative team that developed the ad were aware about the existence of the South African ad.
“That is something I would have to double-check,” she said. “There were many concepts, but ultimately it was up to the creative team to decide on the final product. There were many concepts that were studied. But we really stuck to the testimonial that the meat of [the ad].”
As of 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the ad had over 1.7 million views on Facebook.
The ad features a Japanese retiree, M. Uchimura, traveling to the Philippines and mingling with Filipinos on one of the Hundred Islands of Pangasinan, the Ifugao rice terraces, the Paoay sand dunes, and the heritage houses of Vigan.
“Here, you don’t have to see the sun to discover radiance. You don’t have to see colors to experience vibrance. You don’t have to see the smiles to know you are safe. You don’t have to see to feel you are home,” Uchimura said in the voiceover of the ad.
Towards the end, Uchimura, who wears a hat and sunglasses, takes out walking stick to navigate the cobblestoned Calle Crisologo of Vigan, revealing that he is blind.
DOT spokesperson Frederick Alegre ruled out withdrawing the ad or editing it, adding that the ad was “unique” and focused on a particular group – retirees.
“We stand by McCann, we stand by the creative execution [of the ad],” Alegre said. “We know for a fact that the Philippines is a choice destination, a choice place to stay for retirees. It’s all part of the series of ads to show the spirit of the Filipino.”
He said the featured narrator in the “Sights” ad was a “real” Japanese retiree who chose to stay in the Philippines, in contrast with the South African ad, where the narrator was a Caucasian tourist.
“There are really creative executions to similarly-situated stories that have unique propositions,” Alegre said. “It can be about anything under the sun we experienced, but we can use it in a different angle. It’s something that is accepted in the advertising industry.” /atm
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