We learned from Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra yesterday that McDonald’s Philippines did not seek permission to shoot and produce the television commercial on National Breakfast Day with Atom Araullo. While the production team communicated with Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) Field Office in Iligan, no information on how the footages will be utilized was offered to Field Office Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro.

While the video, as it appears, supposedly aimed at uplifting conflict-affected communities, Maranao mothers in particular, we find it offensive. The production of this video not only bypassed the local government units and the government agencies currently managing rehabilitation efforts, it exploited the conditions of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in Marawi to sell their brand. The video clearly promotes McDonald’s brand in the guise of uplifting mothers currently living in those conditions.

Cause-related marketing (CRM) campaigns are widely used globally by private entities to fulfill corporate social responsibility thrusts but to promote a product and create business value using unfortunate conditions of people without previously set parameters is unacceptable.

In CRM, a promotional strategy for a product is developed and a percentage of revenues is donated to the cause to help improve conditions or the subjects of that cause. In this case, they gave sandwiches to people on the day of the shoot.

While the entry of the Maranao people to return to their homes in the most affected areas in Marawi is highly regulated by the LGU and TFBM, we cannot allow any visitors to take videos and photos of the area to develop commercial value and make money out of the pain and suffering of our people.

We ask McDonald’s Philippines to reach out to Mayor Gandamra and our offices in TFBM and discuss how this issue should be rectified. In the meantime, we request that the video be recalled and to cease airing in public.

Harold Clavite, Director-General, Philippine Information Agency; Co-lead, Information Management and Strategic Communications Support Group (StratComm) of Task Force Bangon Marawi