It’s mind-boggling why our country's Department of Tourism (DOT) keeps on changing its tourism tagline. We had “Wow Philippines: More Than The Usual” (good) and then “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” (the worst!) and then “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” (the best!) and then, suddenly, we now have “Experience The Philippines”.
Malaysia and Thailand have been using “Malaysia, Truly Asia” and “Amazing Thailand” for several years, respectively. The Philippines, on the other hand, is on a regular Russian roulette with its tourism identity. Seriously, experience? Karanasan? As in, experience the President? Experience his mouth? Perhaps it refers to bad experience? Perhaps this is another way of spending more taxpayer money on new but unnecessary campaigns?
And speaking of taxpayer money, it is revealed that P650-million is spent on this ad campaign. Yes, almost a billion pesos worth of our money. Let that sink in.
Even if we could let those jokes shrug away, the slogan still sounded like it came from two joyless advertising interns who had a sudden realization they had chosen the wrong profession and would rather grab the nearest Pale Pilsens than do what they were told to do. There is no verve, no spunk, no imagination. It is, in short, weak and uninspired. I mean, how can we ever maintain, or at least establish, brand consistency and familiarity if we keep changing our slogan?
It is even more hilarious that this slogan holds on to the brilliant work of the previous administration’s DOT (“It’s More Fun in the Philippines”), albeit it is now written in smaller font like an after-thought that one has to squint his eyes a little harder, as if this year’s slogan decision-makers have congregated and said, “We don’t like to be associated with that work, but it’s really good noh, so let’s just keep it in there, in teeny-weeny letters, shall we?”
And just when I thought this new tourism campaign was bad enough for its squirmy, forgettable and overly sentimental nature, it turned out that the ad was almost a frame-by-frame copy of another ad from South Africa—from the narrative down to the twist in the end. Remember the budget allocated for this campaign? Let me tell you, in case you forgot: It is P650-million. You have that whopping budget and you’d still end up copying another country’s work. Palm, meet face.
Of course, the DOT and the advertising agency behind the commercial stick to their guns, claiming that their concept is original. But with universal access to information now easier than ever, and with that massive amount of disposable income, couldn’t the agency and DOT create something more original than the kind of “original” they had in mind? Because if this is their concept of original, which is actually a copy of something else, who knows what blunder they would come up next.
Truly, these are tough times. After being subjected to Ernesto Abella’s call for “creative imagination” last year and Mocha Uson’s insistence on “symbolism” a few weeks ago, just to defend their discrepancies and interpret their inconsistencies, we are now forced to accept that plagiarism can be “original”. This makes you wonder and ask yourself: Gaguhan na lang ba talaga?
Friends and loved ones, you might as well go to other countries now.