(Note: Since last year, I’ve been talking with Mr. Chito Macapagal, Unilever Philippines VP for Corporate Affairs, about his company’s zero solid-waste program and other possible solutions to eliminating the scourge of plastic pollution in the Philippines. It was my experience with 2009′s Ondoy that had driven me to write him last year and inquire into what Unilever Philippines is doing to ensure that the plastic packaging of its products does not clog or pollute our country’s environment. The conversations I’ve had with Mr. Macapagal with regard to solid-waste pollution have been enlightening and we are currently working together on a possible solution to a solid-waste management solution model which can be adopted by communities across the country.
Two or three weeks ago, I caught the beginnings of what would turnout to be a fairly large online outrage movement over the sexually suggestive dance number of a six year old in the TV Show “Willing Willy”. Even at this early stage, there were already suggestions to write the advertisers of Willing Willie to express disgust over what would later be alleged as child abuse and lack of media responsibility.
Having been in touch with Mr. Macapagal since last year, I sent him a text message about the incident on Willing Willy and he responded saying that Unielver was already acting on the matter.
Yesterday Mr. Macapagal asked me to come over to Unilever Philippines to sit in a special briefing with members of Para Kay Jan-Jan (Shame on You Willie) Peachy and Froilan. In that special briefing, Mr. Macapagal appraised us of Unilever’s statement on its sponsorship on Live Game Shows.
Below is the full text of Unilever’s Statement:
8th April 2011
Press Release: Unilever’s Sponsorship on Live Game Shows
This is to make public a set of actions taken by Unilever Philippines after an incident in a popular TV show a few weeks ago. The incident features a 6 year old boy doing a dance number as part of a reality game show.
We recognized that this incident has drawn mixed reactions from different sectors in the society.
In Unilever Philippines’ view, it was a serious incident and as a result, we actred by immediately engaging the network authorities, expressing our serious concern and demanded assurance that similar incidents would not happen again.
TV 5, the network, has apologized to us and committed to a series of “self-regulation” measures including the appointment of an internal ombudsman to supervise stricter program guidelines and impose a moratorium on the presence of kids in their live reality shows until a complete investigation is finished. This seems to have been validated by MTRCB as per article published in Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 6, 2011, Page F3.
We see all these actiosn as positive steps, but we also look forward with great interest to the prospect of MTRCB strengthening regulations on content across all live game shows and making clear the potential sanctions for erring programs.
In support of the above, Unilever Philippines has decided:
1) To temporarily suspend effective Monday, April 11, 2011, our participation in all reality-based live game shows across all networks. This measure will be in place until we observe stricter and objective self-regulatory guidelines across networks and proper enforcement by the relevant government agencies of existing content regulations.
2. We actively seek for PANA’s (Philippine Association of National Advertisers) involvement and leadership to help the networks develop a strict and consistent self-regulatory framework. We expect this to be in place no later than on month.
3. In all these, Unilever Philippines’ actions are oriented to:
a. protect the rights of contestants (especially women and children),
b. provide responsible content for TV viewers, and
c. ensure a safe communication environment for sponsors and brands.
With these actions, we expect something good will come out of this incident.
Unilever Philippines will continue to positively influence the media landscape and work on strengthening our long-standing successful partnership with all TV networks.
VP for Corporate Affairs