Department of Tourism ‘Love the Philippines’ video embarrassment captures global attention

Image: Presidential Communications Office
Image: Presidential Communications Office

As if the Department of Tourism (DOT) didn’t have its hands full with the public’s mixed reactions to its latest slogan, “Love the Philippines,” the agency has found another thorn on its side: the DOT’s promotional video, shown during the campaign launch, featured an embarrassing combination of stock footage from various countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Social media users first called out the foreign clips when the video aired online.

The incident sparked global interest, with foreign publications such as CNN, BBC News, Kuwait Times, and The Independent covering the faux pas.

The clips in question were sourced from Storyblocks, a subscription-based website that provides users with royalty-free footage, images, and audio for creative projects. The new tourism campaign, launched on June 27th, introduced the slogan “Love the Philippines” alongside the video.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco had previously disclosed that the Department of Tourism had allocated PHP49 million (US$887,191) for the comprehensive study of the tourism campaign rebranding, which encompassed the creation of a new logo and other branding components. “Love the Philippines” replaced the country’s most recent tourism tagline, the multi-awarded “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” which was launched in 2012.

However, over the weekend, social media users discovered that the campaign video featured clips from other countries, including Thailand’s fishing lake, Indonesia’s rice terraces, and sand dunes in Dubai.

In response, the Department of Tourism stated that it was currently conducting a thorough investigation to ascertain the accuracy of the claims and gather all relevant facts regarding the campaign video. The department confirmed that it had sought confirmation from its contracted agency, DDB Philippines, on multiple occasions during meetings and consultations regarding the originality and ownership of the materials used in the campaign videos.

According to the Department of Tourism, DDB Philippines had consistently assured them that the materials used were original and the ownership rights were in order. The department, while clarifying that no public funds were utilized for the particular audio-video presentation in question, acknowledged its responsibility for promoting the country to the highest standards.

DDB Philippines, the advertising agency involved, also issued a statement, acknowledging that using stock footage or non-original clips in mood videos (known as “pegs” in local industry speak) was an industry practice. However, they recognized the use of foreign clips as an “unfortunate oversight” on their part, stating that proper screening and approval processes should have been strictly followed.

Yet social media users felt that the DOT, who has since terminated its contract with DDB Philippines, should have taken the responsibility for releasing a video that was only meant for internal viewing.

Users also criticized the DOT for not having realized that the agency showed them clips of tourist attractions that were not from the Philippines.

“Anyone who’s worked in a creative agency would know that this wouldn’t happen without the client’s approval. Everything is signed off at each stage until delivery. The use of ‘internal stakeholders’ suggests that it’s a peg that DOT ran with without informing the agency,” user Paul Catiang wrote, adding that as the client, the DOT should have been responsible for the creative materials they commissioned.

The controversial campaign video has been taken down from social media and other platforms.

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