Philippines Department of Tourism fires McCann after plagiarism row

The Philippines Department of Tourism has terminated its contact with McCann Worldgroup following allegations of plagiarism regarding a new ad campaign.

The agency was accused of copying its ad ‘Sights’, the first work in a new campaign ‘Experience the Philippines’, from ‘Rediscover South Africa’, a 2014 tourism ad by Ireland/Davenport of Johannesburg.

McCann Philippines has now issued a statement confirming it has been dropped as agency-of-record after the government body said it was looking for a new agency during a press conference.

It said: “We learned yesterday afternoon, through various news reports and the press conference held by the Department of Tourism (DOT), that it has decided to discontinue its partnership with McCann Worldgroup Philippines. At the time of this press release, however, McCann has not received a formal communication from the DOT about termination of our contract.

“While we regret the decision of the DOT to discontinue our partnership, we continue to believe that it is in the best interest of all parties to discuss a sensible resolution to this matter. Nevertheless, we respect any decision made by the DOT and, while regrettable, we thank the DOT for the opportunity to serve, and we wish them continued success in their future endeavours.”

In a post on Twitter, the DOT also demanded an apology from McCann over the “negative feedback” the ads’ “glaring similarities” generated.

The ad, which has now been deleted from official accounts on YouTube and Facebook, told a sentimental story of a blind tourist visiting the Philippines and slowly regaining his other senses throughout his trip.

However, similarities between the ad and the video for South Africa Tourism were pointed out on Reddit on Tuesday.

Again the story shows a blind man whose other senses develop as he experiences South Africa.

Following accusations of plagiarism, the agency issued a statement denying they had copied the ad: “Our research has also shown that, of the millions of visitors who visit the Philippines, thousands of foreigners from over 100 countries have chosen to live and retire here.

“Our latest film, ‘Sights,’ was particularly inspired by the story of a visually impaired foreigner who has made the Philippines his home and who has come to experience the Philippines in different ways.

“It is unfortunate that the DOT has been called out and accused of plagiarism, for work we have done to highlight the testimonial of a real retiree. We take full responsibility, as all ideas and storyboards presented were conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup Philippines.”

The agency added that there “has never been any intention to copy others’ creative work”, and that McCann “stand[s] by the integrity with which this campaign was developed”.

Eleanor Dickinson

Eleanor Dickinson is editor of Mumbrella Asia. Eleanor joined the Asia platform from Dubai, where she acted as senior reporter for Campaign Middle East.


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