[PHOTO - Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. (above) addresses the media in his office after a press conference that introduced the country’s new tourism slogan (top), which is arguably the same one used by Switzerland in 1951 (left). PHOTOS BY RENE DILAN AND VINTAGEPAPERADS.COM]

MANILA, JANUARY 9, 2012 (MANILA TIMES) Written by : Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz, Reporter - IT’S strike two for the Department of Tourism (DOT). Just hours after its new campaign slogan was launched, the Tourism department drew flak for allegedly plagiarizing an old campaign slogan of another European country, Switzerland.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. presented the slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” during a press briefing on Friday morning and claimed that this tourism brand would focus on the country’s core strength—the Filipino people—which cannot be offered by any other country.

Almost immediately, talks about the new brand spread like wildfire across various social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Past noon, the tourism slogan was trending among the most talked about issues of the day.

But the excitement was short-lived when it was discovered that the new brand was actually similar to a 1951 campaign slogan released by the Swiss government dubbed “It’s More Fun in Switzerland.”

“Everything is fun in the Philippines, planking is fun, commuting is fun, root canal is more fun, getting upstairs more fun . . . simple truth is always what works best when you want to persuade someone,” Jimenez said.

Pure coincidence During a later interview, he explained that the similarity between the two was just a “coincidence.”

According to him, other brands such as “Amazing Thailand” was also similar to “Amazing Australia” and “Incredible India” to “Incredible Italy.”

“Malaysia’s ‘Truly Asia’ brand was similar to ‘Truly Tuscany,’” Jimenez said.

A photo of Switzerland’s old slogan circulated on the Internet with as source.

The DOT drew similar criticisms before for its earlier fiasco in “Pilipinas Kay Ganda,” which had similarities with a tourism campaign from Poland in Eastern Europe.

On the heels of allegations of plagiarism, then-Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim was forced to cancel the contract where the government spent P5 million for its launching alone.

In a previous statement, the DOT said that at least eight of the largest advertising firms in the Philippines were involved in the new P12-million project.

When asked about how much the project really cost, Jimenez refused to give a more definitive answer except by saying that they “do not want rival countries to know.”

Simple question The DOT chief explained that the campaign was simple, truthful and only answered the simple question, “Why should I go to the Philippines?”

“Our strategy is simple: while other countries invite you to observe, Filipinos can promise a more heartfelt and interesting experience. Wherever you go, whatever you do in the country, it’s the Filipinos that will complete your vacation and will make your holiday unforgettable,” Jimenez said.

The Filipinos are already known around the world to be one of the happiest and warmest people on earth and the campaign hopes to enjoin the whole country in creating positive buzz for the tagline, he added.

As the international campaign is underway, the agency is also developing a national initiative under the line “#1FORFUN” to rally the nation, Jimenez said.

“The national line is a goal, a constant reminder to ourselves why we can tell travelers it’s more fun here than anywhere else,” he added.

“It [slogan] needs everyone’s support for it to stay true—we need to make sure people’s experiences in our country are positive, enjoyable, and most of all, fun,” the Tourism secretary said.

Jimenez added that new slogan campaign, which is expected to be rolled out globally within four months, hopes to target 4.2 million tourist arrivals, higher than last year’s 3.7 million. “If there is tourism, there is a job for every Filipino,” he said.

The tourism official also revealed that there would be no traditional, large-scale launch because the agency would only use social media to spread the campaign.

Jimenez said that the project was approved by President Benigno Aquino 3rd and other Cabinet members.

Mixed reactions The new slogan, which was visualized by the advertising agency BBDO Guerrero/Proximity Philippines, got mixed reactions from netizens.

A few minutes after the DOT announcement, the hashtag #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines and “#1ForFun” became the top trending in the Philippines and worldwide on Twitter.

“It’s simple but very catchy. It’s a fresh idea that gives every Filipino the freedom and creativity to think what makes it more fun in the Philippines in their own ways,” Ed Buenavista said on his twitter.

Majority of netizens said that “its more fun in the Philippine” because of delicious food, affordable and quality local products and Filipinos who are always smiling.”

But the new slogan also drew negative reactions.

Arvin Garcia said on his Facebook account that “[the new slogan is] uninspired, boring and the lamest excuse of not being creative” while Jeffrey Santos added that “it is better to repair our airport first before inviting visitors or tourists.”

Santos said that the government should also secure tourists as well as the tourist destinations in the country from all criminals.

Meanwhile, the Tourism department said that this project was not yet final because improvements were still to be made.


NEW DOT SLOGAN SPARKS DEBATES By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated January 07, 2012 12:00 AM

COPYCAT? An Internet search yielded this vintage poster of a 1951 Swiss tourism campaign dubbed ‘It’s more fun in Switzerland!’ that is up for sale online.

MANILA, Philippines - The new slogan and marketing campaign of the Department of Tourism (DOT) has sparked passionate debates online and was such a hit that some Facebook and Twitter users have come up with their own posters showing why “it’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Despite the criticisms over the new slogan, the DOT said it would push through with the new campaign in promoting the country as a premier tourist destination.

DOT Assistant Secretary and spokesman Benito Bengzon brushed aside criticisms that the new slogan was similar to a vintage tourism ad of Switzerland in 1951.

Bengzon said it was just a “coincidence” and the DOT is not about to hold off the new slogan.

“We would not back out because we feel that it is an effective campaign. The new tagline is precisely what we offer,” he said.

Shortly after launching the new slogan on Friday, there were some criticisms on social networking sites that the catchphrase adopted by the DOT was similar to a 1951 advertisement of the Swiss National Tourism Office that read - “It’s more fun in Switzerland.”

Bengzon though gave assurance that the DOT slogan was not copied from Switzerland.

“The (Swiss) campaign was used in the 50s. Siguro meron lang naghalungkat nyan kung may kapareho (Probably somebody must have dug it up if it were the same),” he said.

Bengzon said the DOT is now raring to see “how effective the slogan is in communicating our message” to international travelers. The DOT had contracted advertising firm BBDO Guerrero to craft the new slogan.

In his Twitter account, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said BBDO chairman David Guerrero would rather “slit his throat than copy something.”

Jimenez swiftly rejected the new copycat allegations.

“The line isn’t a manufactured slogan. It is simply the truth about our country. Don’t be swayed by people who are trying to punch holes in it... No one can own the expression ‘it’s more fun’ but it’s very true for the Philippines so it becomes ours,” Jimenez said.

“If you look hard enough, you might even find an old ad that says ‘it’s more fun in Alcatraz!’” he added, referring to the notorious former US prison.

Last year, the DOT withdrew its “Pilipinas kay Ganda” campaign tagline after it was alleged to have been copied from Poland’s tourism slogan.

Online, the new slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” has gone viral.

One Facebook user posted a photograph with his “winning smile” and labeled it: “Smiling. More Fun in the Philippines.” It went with so many other different versions of the ad.

Lawyer Theodore Te also wrote in his Facebook account that he was able to quickly identify with the ad campaign because it was true.

“In the way that ‘Wow! Philippines’ started the conversation but never got to finish it, this new campaign attempts to jumpstart that conversation in the same vein and invites us, who know and love the Philippines, to complete the sentence. And, that’s part of the fun,” Te said.

Dennis Gorecho, who described himself as a Manila lawyer, criticized the DOT for spending a large amount of money on a copycat ad and linked to a website of the old Swiss poster.

“DOT spent millions - to come up with an ad campaign that seemed to have been used from one that is already more than 60 years old,” he wrote on his wall on Facebook.

“Uh, ok, so Switzerland used ‘It’s more fun-’ - in 1951. That’s 61 yrs ago. Even intellectual property rights expire after 50 yrs,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said, repeating another lawyer’s Twitter comment.

Other critics said they preferred the old slogan “Wow! Philippines.”

“It may be true that it’s more fun in the Philippines but ‘Wow! Philippines’ was a far better tourism slogan,” one tweeted.

For Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the new slogan cannot attract tourists.

Rodriguez said the new slogan launched by the DOT was “not worth the millions of pesos spent for it.”

He described the new slogan as “plain, generic.”

“I’m greatly disappointed that after all the meetings and expensive bidding, this is all the Filipinos get. It’s plain, generic and not catchy. It’s not worth the millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money. I think they just thought of it in a few minutes and stuck to it so they don’t have to work anymore thinking of more ideas,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez cited reports that the DOT paid more than P5 million for the new campaign slogan.

Rodriguez also hit advertising executives who dismissed criticisms that the slogan was the same as the one used by Switzerland before.

“Have we come to this? That we condone copycats?” he asked.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone earlier said he welcomed the new slogan but thought “Wow! Philippines” sounded better and was shorter.

Evardone said “Wow” is a positive universal expression understood by many, including non-English speaking people.

The negative reactions were also noted on Facebook and Twitter in pointing out the ad agency hired by the DOT should have produced something more original, shorter, catchy and easier to say. They said it was too elementary that even a grade schooler could pull off.

Malacañang had expressed its support for the new tourism slogan despite the criticisms.

Malacañang also countered the travel advisory issued by the US on the day the new tourism marketing strategy was launched.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine government was doing its best to ensure the safety and security of everyone in the country.

Valte said there had been incidents in the past where the government and the people had learned from to ensure the safety and security of tourists in the country.

“If you also take the general precautions and you do not disregard your safety, there are many beautiful sights to see and there are many good things to is more fun in the Philippines,” Valte said.

Despite many natural wonders and more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines has long lagged behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in attracting tourists.

Poor infrastructure, corruption and poverty are the some of the factors holding back the country’s tourism industry. - Aurea Calica, Sheila Crisostomo, Paolo Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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