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‘It’s more fun of the Philippines’ campaign violated procurement rules finds state auditor

It's more fun in the PhilippinesQuestions have been raised about how a government department awarded an assignment for one of Asia’s most successful tourism ad campaigns in recent memory.

According to the Philippines’ audit commission there was irregularities in the way the tourism authorities assigned their ad agency for a P1.2 billion (US$26 million) project that led to the hugely popular and highly awarded ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ campaign.

In a 2014 report released over the weekend, the government’s Commission on Audit said that tourism advertising contracts were not put out to public tender, and were renewed and extended by an amount larger than stated in the original contract. This violates Republic Act 9184, better known as the procurement law, the audit body pointed out.

On 12 October 2012, the Department of Tourism entered into a contract worth P199.95 million with the winning agency. The contract was renewed on 29 January for P400 million, and then extended on 12 October 2013 for P599.78 million.

The COA report, which was reported on by national newspaper The Philippine Star, read: “Entering into a multi-year contract with the extension of contract time that involved additional cost as well as the consideration of a monthly approved budget contract is contrary to RA 9184 and its implementing rules and regulations, especially the necessity of a public bidding.”

“Unless fully justified by management, the renewal of advertising services contract with the advertising consultant… and the extension of advertising services contract… may not be allowed in audit,” the report continued.

The DOT and Tourism Promotions Board would not be granted audit expenses of P999.78 million unless they can explain why they didn’t stick to the rules, COA added.

COA also claimed in the report that the winning agency, and the agency it competed with in the final round of pitching, were initially declared ineligible, but were later found to qualify and re-added to the shortlist.

DOT and TPB were unavailable for comment.

DOT’s creative agency is BBDO Guerrero, while Dentsu handles media.

The It’s more fun in the Philippines campaign, which has won at competitions including the APPIES, Warc and Spikes, met with controversy of sorts when it launched in 2012. Critics pointed out that the slogan aped the ‘It’s more fun in Switzerland’ campaign from the 1950s.

Tony Harris, formerly BBDO Guerrero’s CEO who moved to the network’s Japan office in June, explained the thinking behind the ‘It’s more fun’ campaign in an interview with Mumbrella in 2013. He authored a book about the campaign, Advertising. More Fun in the Philippines, which was published last year.

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