Fastfood chain suspends ads on ‘Willing Willie’
By Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) Jollibee Foods Corporation is suspending ad placement on TV5 game show “Willing Willie” amid a child abuse controversy, its media office said.
“Mang Inasal will be holding off ad placements from ‘Willing Willie’ this week,” the JFC Corporate Media announced Saturday on its Facebook page.
The announcement came as the drive to boycott products of the top-rating show’s advertisers gains support on various social media sites.
In a letter sent to Froilan Grate of Facebook group Para Kay Jan-jan (Shame on you Willie Revillame), JFC media representative Pauline Lao said the giant food conglomerate was “aware of the issues and the various sentiments raised” following the show’s March 12 episode, which featured a macho dancing six-year-old boy.
Lao said the corporation, which packages itself as family friendly, was keeping tabs on TV5’s investigation, stressing that it “remains committed to upholding the welfare of children.”
“We trust that the appropriate and expert institutions will also respond and look into this matter with urgency,” the JFC official said.
The boy, a contestant in the game show, was seen in tears as he was repeatedly egged on to simulate a striptease to the delight of program host Willie Revillame and the studio audience. It caused uproar on the Internet.
The government condemned the episode, with the Commission on Human Rights saying it was studying the possibility of filing legal charges against those responsible for the “child abuse.”
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board has said it received numerous complaints after seeing the show and would review the episode for appropriate action.
Social Welfare Secretary castigated the fast-rising broadcast station and Revillame for making the young contestant from a poor family to “gyrate distastefully” in exchange for P10,000 in prize money.
On Thursday, activist lawyer Ipat Luna reminded advertisers that they play a crucial role in “shaping the national soul” and urged them to “pull out of Willie’s show as a first step.”
“If poverty is the excuse for losing one’s dignity, I think companies like yours are in the best position to show that dignity can be had despite poverty and Willie’s show flies in the face of that possibility,” she said in her letter to the companies.
Oishi responded to Luna’s letter, describing the incident as “regretful,” and added that “we hope [this] will not happen again.”
“While we, as advertisers, do not control the actual execution and their artists during the show, we also want to do our part to avoid these unfortunate incidents,” Oishi said. The snack firm also said it was reviewing possible actions which “can yield actual, positive results.”
On Wednesday, TV5 television network said it was conducting a “thorough investigation” of the incident.