MANILA (AFP): Philippine tourism officials were left red-faced after the creators of a video promoting the archipelago nation as a holiday destination said on Sunday they had used stock shots from other countries.
Advertising agency DDB Philippines apologised for the “highly inappropriate” images, which included rice terraces in Indonesia and sand dunes in Brazil.
The agency was behind the video for the government’s $900,000 “Love The Philippines” tourism campaign launched on June 27.
The tourism ministry announced late Saturday that it was investigating allegations that DDB’s video included “non-original shots”. The video was later removed from its Facebook page.
Popular Philippine blogger Sass Rogando Sasot had posted on Facebook that several images in the campaign video were from other countries.
Analysis by AFP’s Fact Check team confirmed that the video showed places in Brazil, Indonesia, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
DDB apologised on Sunday for using “foreign stock footage”, describing it as an “unfortunate oversight on our agency’s part”.
“Proper screening and approval processes should have been strictly followed,” DDB said in a statement.
“The use of foreign stock footage in a campaign promoting the Philippines is highly inappropriate, and contradictory to the DOT’s (Department of Tourism) objectives.”
The video was produced at its own expense, DDB said.
– Tourists want ‘authentic interactions’ –
The tourism ministry said in its statement it had “repeatedly sought confirmation from DDB on the originality and ownership of all materials contained in the AVPs (audio-visual presentations) and key visuals presented to the Department”.
“In ALL these occasions, DDB repeatedly assured the DOT that the originality and ownership of all materials are in order,” the ministry said.
Some of the images used in the promotional video can be found on the websites of stock footage providers.
For example, footage of rice terraces is on Pond5, which identified the location as Ubud on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.
Videvo has the same aerial shot of sand dunes as the one used in the Philippine ad but says the location was Cumbuco in northeastern Brazil.
Other footage shows a fisherman casting a net while wearing a hat that is not typically worn in the Philippines and a person driving a buggy over sand dunes in the United Arab Emirates.
A spokeswoman for the tourism ministry did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment on Sunday.
Tourism minister Christina Frasco told local media last week the new branding campaign cost 49 million pesos (nearly $900,000).
Frasco said the ministry conducted a global survey which found that, in the post-pandemic era, tourists wanted “authentic interactions with communities”.
The new slogan replaced “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”.
Tourism is a key industry in the Philippines, which boasts pristine dive spots and white sand beaches, but arrivals lag those of its neighbours due to poor infrastructure and high costs.
There were 2.7 million inbound tourists to the Philippines last year, down 68 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to United Nations’ World Tourism Organization data.