More firms pull out ads from 'Willing Willie'

Posted at 04/08/11 6:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Unilever Philippines said on Friday it will temporarily pull out all its advertisements from all reality and game shows on local TV.

Two other companies, meanwhile, announced it would pull out their ads from the variety show "Willing Willie."

In a statement, Chito Macapagal, Unilever's vice president for external communications, said the temporary suspension will take effect starting April 11 in all reality-based live game shows.

Aside from this, the company will "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 in no later than one month."

Meanwhile, Nutri-Asia, the maker of UFC food products, said that it is "suspending" its ad placements and promotional segments from "Willie Willie."

"Nutri-Asia arrived at this decision after extensive internal discussions and a thorough assessment of the issue and the pulse of the general public and the markets we serve. After deliberations, the Company has decided that it should recognize the prevailing market sentiment and preference as it has always done," the company said in a statement.

The company, however, stressed that its decision was purely "market-based," and not an expression of opinion or judgment on the issue.

Another advertiser, pawnshop chain Cebuana Lhuiller, said it would also pull out its ads from the show effective Monday while resolution regarding the issue is pending.

"While we support programs that give hope to Filipinos here and abroad, we expect our business to promote good values, protect children's rights and exercise prudence in communicating to the general public," the company said in a statement.

The move of the three companies was triggered by an incident on TV5's show "Willing Willie" where a 6-year-old boy performed what some quarters called was lewd dance in exchange for cash.

Unilever added it viewed the incident as "serious," saying it has demanded from networks assurances that similar incidents would not happen again.

Unilever added that its suspension will stay until tighter regulations are implemented.

"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," the company said.

TV5 drew flak from various sectors, including the Catholic Church, and prompted government to conduct an investigation.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) is currently investigating the issue.

On Thursday, Procter & Gamble (P&G) Philippines, another multinational company, suspended ads on the said show. Other companies that have suspended advertising from the show are Jollibee (Mang Inasal), Del Monte, and CDO.