The Philippines Department of Tourism has fired McCann Philippines over allegations of plagiarism within its latest ‘Sights’ ad, according to a report by Adobo.
The agency was accused of copying the ad for its “Experience the Philippines” campaign from “Rediscover South Africa,” a 2014 tourism ad by Ireland/Davenport from Johannesburg.
The ad has been pulled from the tourism board's Facebook page and YouTube channel, and will not be aired further.
The tourism board has stated that it will reopen bidding for new advertising materials for its “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan. Ricky Alegre, assistant secretary, Department of Tourism, stated in a press conference that after reviewing materials, stakeholders and online and offline feedback, terminating McCann is the way forward.
The tourism board said in a statement that it “expects a public apology from McCann over the negative feedback that the department has been receiving, owing to the glaring similarities between McCann’s ’Sights’ ad and South Africa’s ad released in 2014.”
McCann has released a statement about its termination saying, ”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 endeavors,” it added.
McCann declined to answer any further questions about the issue beyond its statement.
However, in an interview with GMA News, Alegre defended the campaign stating, “You know how the creative agencies work, they're able to present it in different manners. I think it's safe to say that this was presented in a different manner because we really have retirees in the Philippines that enjoy staying in the Philippines.”
McCann Philipines responded in the same report with a statement saying, "We acknowledge the feedback that the way this story was told may have similarities with the South African tourism campaign. 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 conceptualized by McCann Worldgroup Philippines. We also underscore that there has never been any intention to copy others’ creative work. McCann Worldgroup Philippines has always strived to adhere to our guiding principle, 'Truth Well Told', in everything we do. We stand by the integrity with which this campaign was developed," it added.
This is not the first time an agency in Asia has faced calls about plagiarism about its work with Leo Burnett Malaysia facing the same issue last year.