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DTI says marketing stunts need permit after viral takoyaki store April Fool's prank

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Apr 12, 2024 4:43 pm

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has warned business owners that they must first secure a permit from the agency before they can conduct marketing stunts for their brands.

This comes after local takoyaki store Taragis stirred immense controversy online after its viral April Fool's prank where a man took the joke seriously and got its logo inked on his forehead, only to be revealed later on that everything was scripted.

On a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing, DTI Assistant Secretary Amanda Nograles explained that marketing stunts that have been disguised as pranks cannot be considered a promotion unless the store owner confirms it.

"Kung inaamin niya na marketing gimmick ‘yan, na ang intensyon ay para mang-engganyo na i-patronize ‘yung brand niya, sumikat ‘yung kanyang establishment, or kumbaga, para lalong dumami ang sales nila, so lumalabas na para talaga siyang promotional in that sense," Nograles said.

Should that be the case, then the stunt falls under sales promotion, which the agency has authority over under the regulations.

"Kapag gagawa po tayo ng marketing stunt, mahuhulog ‘yan sa definition sa sales promotion, kasi ano ba ang purpose ng marketing stunt? Para dumami ‘yung mga customer mo, para tumaas ‘yung sales at tsaka para lalong sumikat ‘yung brand," Nograles said.

She stressed, "Kung wala silang DTI permit, pwede silang papanagutin ng DTI ng violation ng conducting ng promotion without securing first a DTI sales promo permit."

According to the Trade official, to get a sales promotion permit, the agency reviews the stunt's mechanics, scope, mode of winning, legality, and morality of the activity. If business owners are caught conducting a stunt without a proper permit, they will be given a show cause order to explain their actions.

In case you need a refresher, Taragis opened the topic on the ethics of using pranks in marketing after they published a post on Facebook in which they said that they would give P100,000 to the first person who will get a forehead tattoo of their logo. They asked their followers to click the photo for the full mechanics, only to see an "April Fools" graphic below it.

Later in the day, however, they talked about receiving various messages claiming that someone—who was later identified as Facebook user Ramil Albano—took it to heart and executed it. 

The incident incurred the wrath of many online users, who accused Taragis of being careless and insensitive and demanded that they take responsibility for it.

Days later, the brand posted a video on its page where the store's owner, Carl Quion, was seen going to Albano's residence and handing him the cash prize. They even offered assistance for a laser tattoo removal of the brand’s logo on his forehead and treated his 16-year-old son to some fast food.

Quion also apologized to the public for what had happened, saying that he did not intend to cause harm to anyone. But in another video entry, he revealed that everything was elaborately planned to create some noise and buzz for his takoyaki brand.

"Kailangan ay maging involved ang maraming tao rito para kumalat sa buong Pilipinas," he recalled.

"Oo, nagsinungaling ako sa inyo at gusto kong humingi ng tawad," he continued. "Dinala namin kayo dito sa isang malaking marketing stunt na may iba’t ibang klaseng emosyon, diskusyon, at pagpapakitang tao."