WATCH: New DOT ‘Experience the Philippines’ ad allegedly rips off 2014 South African campaign

The Department of Tourism denied that its new heartwarming Experience the Philippines campaign was ripped off from one which was released by South Africa back in 2014 on Tuesday.

The ad follows a Japanese retiree, M. Uchimura, “island hopping in the Hundred Islands of Pangasinan, dancing with the locals in Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, riding an ATV in Paoay Sand Dunes, and enjoying his snacks on the cobblestoned Calle Crisologo in 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 smiles to know you are safe; you don’t have to see to feel you are home,” Uchimura says in a voice over.

“Life feels better when with Filipinos,” it ends.

It’s a pretty inspiring video that has gained the hearts of Filipinos and foreigners all around. However, it also caught criticism when the pvblic noticed the uncanny similarities between the ad and South Africa’s 2014 campaign.

Facebook user Raphael Phoebus Ubales mentions in a lengthy post his disappointment with the “rip off”.

He wrote:

Recently, the Department of Tourism launched their campaign ‘Experience the Philippines’ with a heartwarming promotional video showing Japanese retiree, M. Uchimura, exploring the country. Social media was quick to point out that the video was similar to a South African campaign in 2014.

In the South African promotional video, British traveller James O’Driscoll experiences the warmth and hospitality of his South African hosts. In both videos, a twist to the narrative is not revealed until the end.

The DOT denied that the ad was a copy from South Africa’s campaign. Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre said “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”

McCann handles the ad collaterals of the DOT, which has a P650-million budget for its ad campaign this year.

I am all for heartwarming campaigns and boosting our sustainable tourism, but we can’t be recycling stuff from previous successful ones. We have more than 7000 islands as inspirations to come up with stories for a more organic and authentic campaign. You mean to say y’all still can’t come up with something original with that whopping budget? DOT’s justification why it’s not a copycat is that their ad features a true story. Really? So you think it’s okay to rip off an old ad just because ‘it happened in real life here’?

Here is a side-by-side comparison of both ads. I’ve spliced the South African ad
[the original video is 02:15 long] to fit the DOT ad trt of 01:01. I find it tacky that they even had to copy the ad SCENE BY SCENE! The opening sea shot, the sand close up, the dancing with indigenous people, really? And please don’t get me started with the Igorots wearing boxers shorts…Watch and decide for yourself.

“[It is] not a rip-off, definitely this is experiential,” Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre said in an interview with ANC.

“We’d also like to add that we have been consistently putting out testimonials of foreigners in the Philippines and retirement is really a key pillar of the Department of Tourism… The Philippines is actually one of the best places in the world for retirees and we’d like to believe that the feature about the Japanese retiree really expresses what they feel about the Philippines.”

“We decided to put in a new twist exactly because we were very sensitive to the people of Marawi. We didn’t feel it was proper to say ‘fun’ amidst all the security issues in Mindanao,” Alegre added.

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