The Philippines says it pulled its latest online tourism campaign after critics panned the rebrand and warned that unwary surfers could easily end up at a porn site instead.
The site, www.beautifulpilipinas.com, was taken down on Tuesday, just a day after it was launched by the tourism department to much fanfare, said Evelyn Macayayong, interim head of the ministry's tourist information office.
The campaign featured a candy-coloured logo including the slogan, a coconut tree, an endangered primate called a tarsier, the sun and waves.
Critics panned the decision to use the local spelling of the country's name, warning that a similar site, with a spelling only two letters different, was pornographic.
Some called for the country's eight-year-old tourism slogan, "Wow Philippines", to be brought back.
Posts on networking sites about the "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" (Philippines What a Beauty) website described it as "bland," and "lacking punch".
In response, Macayayong referred AFP to Tourism Minister Alberto Lim's speech at Monday's launch.
"It is a radical departure from what our neighbours are doing, and to the faint of heart, a bit risky," Lim had said, defending the rebranding as a result of market research conducted by an unnamed major advertising firm.
Now I'm not in the marketing industry, but I would assume that one of the most important tenets in marketing is to know your audience. So I get that in Tagalog, the name for the Philippines is "Pilipinas"; however, to the non-Filipino, it recalls the word "Filipinas", meaning Filipino women. So I think it's understandable that the vast majority of people who see a website called www.beautifulpilipinas.com, are going to suspect that it is, if not a porn site, at least one devoted to the Philippines' many beautiful women, rather than the beauty of the country itself.
Now I'm a curious fellow, so in the interests of research, I searched on www.beautifulpilipinas.com (the website no longer exists) and then changed the p to an f and awaited the result.
Good heavens. Now I'm a red-blooded male and I don't consider myself a prude but the site I ended up on was a little too much for my senses. And it didn't even seem to feature any Filipinas! It would certainly have painted the Philippines as an interesting place for all those potential visitors who inadvertently spelled the original website's address wrong. But I'm guessing the Tourism Department don't want the world thinking the Philippines is the place you go to see Latin chicks getting gangbanged.
So I'm glad they pulled it, and I'm sure they'll learn for next time. These are the things you need to consider when operating in the internet age. So if you are setting up a website for your business that sells big black clocks, I hope you learn from this too.