Viral Tourism: Philippines, You're Doing It Right
By Rico Cruz - on 09 Jan 2012, 9:29am

Just last week, we posted a news story about the technology-based tourism guides that the Department of Tourism was developing with for this year's Sinulog Festival. Apparently, this was just a foretaste of the DOT's new high-tech direction. The next day, January 6, saw the department announce its new slogan:"It's More Fun In The Philippines." Within hours the slogan became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, with the hashtag #itsmorefuninthephilippines, while Facebook feeds were flooded with posts related to the tagline and its accompanying images.

The new official slogan for Philippines tourism.

This explosion of online buzz for something as simple as a slogan is pretty unheard of, but it is a rather common occurrence in the Philippines for other things like controversial or comedic photos and videos. The Filipino's knack for making something go viral on the Internet is what the DOT and its partner advertising agency, BBDO Guerrero, have cleverly leveraged in the country's new tourism campaign. From dancing prison inmates in Cebu to Charice Pempengco, it is pretty obvious that when we Filipinos like something, we make sure that the whole world knows it. While this phenomenon has been already been in plain view for the past couple of years, it is only recently that an entire campaign as large as this one has been built around it. 

One of the official images released with the new slogan.

This online route has both advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, one advantage is that going viral means massive buzz and exposure involving little to no cost. This is great for a department who's government has few funds to spare. Second, the campaign taps not only into the Filipino's penchant for sharing, but also creating. If you'll notice, even the visuals of the campaign lend themselves to viral distribution. The wittty text overlaid on a photo is the general format of Internet memes, that spread across the Internet like wildfire. The geniuses over at the DOT decided to release the font they used for free, allowing anyone to create their own "It's More Fun In The Philippines". In fact, they even have an official site for it. One other, less obvious advantage is that the campaign shows that the Filipino people are what make the Philippines such a great place to visit. While the images show the beautiful vistas and interesting wildlife that other countries may have, the text shows that it is the people that make it all a uniquely fun, uniquely Filipino experience.

Tourism poster for Switzerland from 1951 with the same tagline.

Of course, with everything else that spreads online, there are plenty who are quick to judge and point out faults. On the same day of the announcement, someone discovered a poster from the Swiss tourism office dating from 1951 with the exact same slogan. This created quite a stir, especially since the previous slogan also had some glaring originality issues. Quality is also a problem when crowdsourcing. Since its so easy to create your own poster, some with poor taste have created ones that show the less glamorous side of the country, like a photo of rugby-sniffing addicts with the text "Rugby, More Fun In The Philippines."  The last and probably the most disconcerting problem is longevity. Online trends often go as quickly as they come, and it is likely that "It's More Fun In The Philippines" may lose steam within a few weeks. Hopefully, the DOT is aware of this, and is prepared for it. Officially, it's only the slogan that has been announced; they haven't even launched the whole campaign yet, perhaps the coming months will see an even bigger Internet bombshell. In any case, buzz is buzz, and with the goal of attracting 4.2 million tourists this year, it looks like Philippine tourism is definitely headed in the right direction.

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Rico Cruz

Rico Cruz / Staff Writer

Rico is the newest member of the HardwareZone team, having joined in June 2011, lured by his love of all things technology. He has been an avid follower of technology news since his high school days and is therefore no stranger to technology trends, past and present.