A partylist congressman has called out Smart-PLDT’s top executives for their "misplaced preference" in hiring foreigners as product endorsers which had virtually downgraded our own Filipino artists.
Rep. Ronnie Ong of Probinsiyano Ako Partylist appeared displeased over the evident bias of the telco’s chair, Manny Pangilinan, and its president, Al Panlilio, against local talents and said “paying hundreds of million-pesos to foreign artists for the telco’s product promotions amid this pandemic that wrought havoc in our economy is immensely insensitive and unsympathetic to say the least.”
Ong was reacting to reports that the country’s largest telecommunications firm has tapped popular South Korean entertainment personalities as endorsers, including the well-liked BTS group that was paid US $10 million for a commercial last year.
The lawmaker said that while Smart-PLDT’s hiring of foreign talents is its own prerogative, such "executive decision" has reportedly become a source of frustration among Filipino nationalists.
“We understand the right of local companies to choose whoever they want endorsing their products but we would like to remind them to choose Filipino first just like when we remind our kababayans to choose Filipino products first,” stressed Ong.
Smart-PLDT executives had yet to react to the report as of posting time.
Smart-PLDT has reportedly hired popular South Korean and Western entertainment personalities for their commercial endorsements, reportedly spending millions of dollars, in the process. Among them were Hyun Bin, Son Ye Jin, Park Seo Joon and the BTS from South Korea.
Hollywood stars like Chris Evans, Charlize Theron and Gwyneth Paltrow have also been signed up as endorsers.
Professional fees for said stars could range from $1 million to about $10 million in the case of BTS, it was gathered.
In 2015, the company reportedly tapped then newly-crowned Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach for a commercial, paying her an estimated $500,000.
A member of the House Committee on the Creative Industry and Performing Arts, Ong has also been advocating for a Filipino first policy to help local industries overcome the adverse economic impact of the 2019 COVID-19 pandemic.
Last June, the Lower House passed on third and final reading House Bill 9350 proposing to institutionalize the “One Town, One Product” Philippines program to provide a package of assistance for the country’s MSMEs.
Reps. Alfred Vargas (6th District, Quezon City) and John Marvin “Yul Servo” C. Nieto (3rd District, Manila) have filed bills seeking to address the lack of government support for local talents and movie personalities and Filipino producers.