DOT to call on students, "millennials" for new tourism campaign ideas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday said it is welcoming pitches for a new tourism campaign to the public, including the youth, as it denied reversing course from the popular "It's More Fun in the Philippines" campaign.

"We're no longer going to make one agency do all the materials. We're looking at tapping different sectors to do several materials to project 'It's More Fun in the Philippines,'" Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"We're also thinking of launching a student contest to allow creativity from the millennials to come in, because social media is very essential in this campaign," he added.

This comes days after the DOT junked its 650-million-peso contract with creative agency McCann Worldgroup Philippines.

The department cut ties with the Philippine unit of the eponymous global marketing services giant on June 15 following public backlash over a heartwarming but allegedly copied advertisement, "Sights," which had similarities to a 2014 South African tourism campaign video.

Related: DOT severs partnership with McCann Worldgroup Philippines

The DOT earlier said it opened its doors to "fresh and original ideas," just two days after claiming in a press conference that it would stand by the agency.

 

The DOT is working on receiving input from lead tour and travel operators, Alegre added.

"We hope that we can launch it in July and August, at least on the social media side," particularly Instagram, Alegre said.

What's definite is that the pitch "has to conform with the current campaign of 'It's More Fun in the Philippines.' That's the theme," said Alegre.

The pitches under the theme should highlight "the spirit of the Filipino, which is the upgrade that Secretary Wanda Teo has... wanted for the new campaign," she said.

Confusion regarding the campaign slogan ensued after the DOT used a new tagline, "Experience the Philippines," in the "Sights" advertisement. The slogan was placed on top of "It's More Fun in the Philippines," which was in smaller font.

But Alegre said there was "no flip-flopping."

"We want to clarify that, and we thank you for the opportunity for us to be able to clarify it, that there is no plan to change the slogan," said Alegre.

"It was very difficult to mention 'fun' amidst the problems in Marawi and our soldiers dying and our heroes defending our country. The word 'fun' would have been very inappropriate," he added.

Multiple travel advisories have been issued concerning the Philippines following clashes between the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and military troops in Marawi City which began on May 23. The crisis prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao. A week and a half later, an arson and robbery attack at Resorts World Manila that led to the deaths of 37 people occurred, prompting heightened security concerns.

The Tourism Department maintains that the effects of martial law in Mindanao are only temporary. Tourists are shifting attention to travel in Luzon and Visayas. Alegre said that entertainment tourists headed to other casinos following the Resorts World Manila incident.

Related: DOT expects tourism to bounce back after martial law

Their first advertisement with McCann, "Anak," will still air in commercials abroad.

Contest mechanics were still being crafted, but they already proposed prizes, including visits to tourist destinations, he said.