The Philippines’ Department of Tourism wishes to end its partnership with McCann Worldgroup’s local office following objections about an ad with “glaring similarities” to a South African travel spot from three years ago. The client also demanded a public apology from McCann in a strongly worded statement.
The ad from McCann Philippines, “Sights,” follows a Japanese retiree as he cruises between islands, dances on rice terraces and rides on a dune buggy. There’s a twist at the end, when the man leaves his table at a sidewalk café and unfurls a white cane, revealing that he’s blind. “You don’t have to see to feel you are home,” the voiceover says.
Viewers found similarities with another tourism spot from South Africa in 2014, which also featured a blind character and a similar twist at the end. The Philippines tourism bureau deleted the ad from YouTube, but still it lives on in copies comparing it with the South African ad.
An official statement from the Department of Tourism said it had reviewed the new ad and “decided to discontinue its partnership with McCann Worldgroup Philippines.” The DOT expects a public apology from McCann over the negative feedback that the department has been receiving.