Despite fiasco, ad agency of DOT could still get paid


THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is still considering paying its advertising agency DDB Philippines Inc. despite the cancellation of its P50-million contract, after the rider video to its new tourism slogan “Love the Philippines” was found to have used stock footage of scenes abroad instead of those in the country.

In a news statement on Monday, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said:  “As DDB Philippines has publicly apologized, taken full responsibility, and admitted in no uncertain terms, that non-original materials were used in their AVP [audio-visual production], reflecting an abject failure to comply with their obligation/s under the contract and a direct contravention with the DOT’s objectives for the enhanced tourism branding, the DOT hereby exercises its right to proceed with termination proceedings against its contract with DDB.” (See, “Stakeholders, TPB shut out of new tourism drive decision,” in the BusinessMirror, July 3, 2023.)

She added, “The DOT shall exercise its right to forfeit performance security as a result of default in obligations under the contract, as well to review standards of performance or lack thereof vis-a-vis any claims for payment and/or any other engagement. Further, the DOT reserves the right to take all other action against acts deemed inimical to the interest of Philippine tourism.” She stressed that DDB was under contract to submit “original materials.” DDB has yet to issue a statement in response as of press time.

DOT’s move to cancel an advertising contract is not without precedent. In 2017, the DOT under then Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo likewise terminated the contract of McCann Philippines because an ad it produced, featuring a blind tourist  enjoying different Philippine destinations, was found to have “glaring similarities” to a South African tourism ad in 2014. (See, “DOT stops airing of McCann’s ‘Sights” as unofficial tourism ad reaps praises,” in the BusinessMirror, June 15, 2017.)

Nancy to DOT: Di na natuto

For her part, Senator Nancy Binay, chairman of the chamber’s Committee on Tourism, put the blame squarely on DOT’s lap: “This is not the first time that DOT and its agencies drew flak from netizens because of some creative lapses. There should be accountability because the people’s money are being spent by the DOT to pay the ad agencies.”

She added, “The DOT should also be more discerning and critical on pegs, concepts, storyboards, and drafts that ad agencies present to them. There were lapses, too, on the part of the client.”

Maybe the DOT could consider a “return to the ‘Fun’ because there’s a problem with ‘Love’ right now,” said Binay. The lawmaker, along with stakeholder associations, have long been urging Frasco not to change the still-popular “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” and only tweak it to reflect current post-pandemic realities and preferences of travelers.

TOR of project bid

Meanwhile, an insider told the BusinessMirror that among the options DOT officials discussed Sunday was the cancellation of the DDB’s contract, but allowing the advertising firm to still be paid for the “materials and activations” it already delivered.

Under the bid’s terms of reference (TOR) for the project  “Consulting Services of an Agency for Philippine Tourism Branding,” the winning bidder has to accomplish several milestones to be fully paid: “Upon submission of the market research and initial presentation of the proposed tourism branding campaign, all within the first month of the contract duration [10 percent of contract price]; Upon submission and approval of campaign concept and timelines [10 percent]; Upon submission and approval of all storyboards for AVPs/TVCs/other media materials [30 percent]; Upon submission and acceptance of all completed creative materials [40 percent]; and Upon acceptance of the Terminal Report all within the end of contract duration [10 percent].” Based on these milestones, the DOT can estimate how much exactly it will pay DDB for its materials and services, said government  sources.

In its news statement, DOT did not say if the project will be rebid or awarded to the other shortlisted bidder, on record, IPG Mediabrands Philippines Inc. Under usual government procedures, it may take another three to four months for a project to be rebid.