No big deal: DOT, BBDO shrug off 'coincidental' Swiss campaign; Now 'fun' is ours means BUSINESS

MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 6:02 PM) Top tourism officials and ad agency BBDO Guerrero shrugged off anxieties and questions about the originality of the Philippines' new slogan unveiled Friday morning, after netizens were confronted with an unsettling posting of a purported 1951 ad touting Switzerland, and with the same key phrase 'it's more fun.'

The Department of Tourism and the ad agency's creative officers described the similarity as a coincidence, and Tourism Secretary Ramon JImenez Jr, said the coincidence merely validates the "truth" of the slogan, because the supposed ad trumpets the "sun tanning" experience in Switzerland. Obviously, said Jimenez, sunbathing is more fun in tropical Philippines.

Top DOT officers were in an unscheduled meeting on Friday afternoon after cyberspace went abuzz with speculation over the originality of the Philippines' brand new, hours-old, tourism slogan.

Just hours after a successful launch on Friday, Tourism Secretary Jimenez, Jr., was back where his new tourism campaign all began - on Twitter, and this time to defend the country's new tourism brand from speculations that it may be unoriginal or worse, may have been copied.

He said the coincidence "only makes our line truer. Sun tanning IS more fun in the Philippines. The line is not a manufactured slogan. It is simply the truth about your country. Don't be swayed by people who are trying to punch holes in it."

Asked to describe Jimenez's mood since the controversy broke out, a source from the DOT said: "He's okay actually. Not bothered by it."

The source added that the new tourism campaign would be continued despite some negative reactions. "We will stay the course."

BBDO Guerrero, the agency tapped by DOT to craft the slogan and campaign, said the use of the “fun” angle in the purported Swiss ad, if true, is purely a coincidence.

David Guerrero, BBDO’s chief creative officer, said: “Apparently that is a random headline from an old ad. Of course not [we did not copy].”

In a text message, Ombet Traspe, director of marketing of BBDO Guerrero, told InterAksyon: “I can assure that was not in our radar during the creative development stage months back. Our line is rooted on something that is true of the Filipino people. So that may just be a coincidence.”

He added: “But you can’t deny the fact that the Filipino people complete the fun experience a traveler has in our country.”

Asked if anyone on the team working on the slogan had ever seen the Swiss poster before, Traspe said: “We never saw that before.”

Less than six hours after the DOT unveiled its new Philippines brand campaign, a poster of an eerily similar tourism campaign by the Swiss National Tourist Office done in 1951 was being spread via social media.

Filipino netizens, still excited and discussing the merits of the Department of Tourism's "It's More Fun In the Philippines" slogan, on Friday afternoon were suddenly distracted by the posting of a purported picture of a 1951 Swiss tourism ad, the copy of which reads: "It's More Fun In Switzerland".

While the authenticity or actual existence of the "poster" has yet to be independently validated, the concern and anxiety among Filipino bloggers and Twitter users was obvious and palpable. An earlier proposed Philippine tourism brand, "Pilipinas Kay Ganda", was pilloried because, among other reasons, its typography and slogan was exposed to be uncannily similar to a tourism logo used by Poland.

Jimenez on Friday afternoon was portraying the whole matter regarding the purported Swiss ad as a coincidence. He then went on Twitter, using his "MonJQuotes" account, to say: "No one can own the expression "it's more fun" but it's very true for the  so it becomes ours."

Reports from Stella Arnaldo, Likha Cuevas-Miel,