Ad agency apologises for 'highly inappropriate' footage of other countries in Philippines tourism video

A Filipino ad agency has come under fire for using footage of other countries in a promotional video for the country's new tourism campaign, 'Love the Philippines'.
The Philippines is famous for its stunning islands and beaches. Photo credit: Milo Zanecchia/Ascent Xmedia/Stone RF/Getty Images

A Filipino ad agency has come under fire for using footage of other countries in a promotional video for the country's new tourism campaign, 'Love the Philippines'.

Days after the campaign launched on June 27, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said it was investigating allegations that the video contained several shots of countries other than the Philippines.

In a statement, the department said they sought confirmation on the originality and ownership of all materials used in the video multiple times and were "repeatedly assured" by the agency that everything was "in order".

The department had contracted ad agency DDB Philippines to help with the launch of the new campaign, but DOT public affairs and advocacy director Ina Zara-Loyola told reporters that the video was not part of the contract with DDB Philippines, according to CNN's regional affiliate CNN Philippines.

"The DOT did not pay, and will not pay for this material. The material can be attributed to the DDB," Zara-Loyola said.

On Sunday, DDB Philippines issued a statement "profusely" apologising for the "highly inappropriate" use of foreign stock footage in the video, which has since been taken down.

"While the use of stock footage in mood videos is standard practice in the industry, the use of foreign stock footage was an unfortunate oversight on our agency's part. The use of foreign stock footage in a campaign promoting the Philippines is highly inappropriate, and contradictory to the DOT's objectives," DDB Philippines said, according to the CNN Philippines report.

 The agency added that it's "fully cooperating" with the investigation.

"The AVP (audio-visual presentation) in question, uploaded by the agency on social media, was intended to be a mood video to excite internal stakeholders about the campaign," the agency said. "This was a DDB initiative to help pitch the slogan."

'Love the Philippines' campaign

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco previously told CNN Philippines that the DOT spent 49 million pesos (approximately US$880,000) on the new 'Love the Philippines' campaign and slogan, which replaces the 'It's More Fun In the Philippines' slogan from over a decade ago.

While the department insists "no public funds" were used for the video in question, they said they accept some responsibility for the backlash.

"The DOT holds the responsibility of promoting the country to the highest standard. Therefore, it will not hesitate to exact accountability and take the necessary action to protect the interest of the country even as it continues to exhaust all efforts to develop and promote the Philippine tourist industry," the department said in its statement.

Last year, tourism represented 17 percent of the country's GDP, the World Travel and Tourism Council reported in June, according to CNN Philippines.

Frasco said the new campaign aims to reintroduce what the country has to offer post-pandemic.

"'Love the Philippines' is a recognition of our natural assets, our storied history, our rich culture and diversity. There is so much more to the Philippines than the fun and adventure that we have so far articulated to the world," she said in a speech launching the new campaign.

However, controversy over the recent video may threaten the campaign's future before it's fully taken off.

If the issues aren't resolved, Rep. Joey Salceda said he may question the continued use of government funds.

"I hope all these issues can be rectified before the budget hearings. Otherwise, I have a duty to ask questions," Salceda said, according to CNN Philippines.