I used to complain about 60 million copywriters. That was the population of the Philippines decades ago, when I was working with an ad agency in Manila and was handling the Nestlé account. It was my way of protesting the way every Juan, Pedro, and Maria felt competent to criticize and suggest improvements on the advertising campaigns we created. Invariably, 10 different people had 10 different ideas on how to improve our work.
Poor Secretary Bertie Lim and Campaigns & Grey. Now, they’re hearing from 95 million copywriters.
… I had written a piece entitled, “Proud to be Pinoy,” referring to the fact that Manny Pacquiao and FilAms like California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Giants ace pitcher Tim Limcecum have given us reason to hold our heads high in the world.But I also added that there are many other reasons to feel proud of ourselves as a a people:
“And yet, we have many reasons to feel Proud to be Pinoy, and not just vicariously. Not the least, the beauty of our people and our land.
“I guess this is the rationale behind the new campaign of the Department of Tourism revolving around the theme, ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’ or ‘Philippines, the Beautiful.’
“I think it’s a good advertising theme, reminiscent of America, the Beautiful.’ But to make this campaign fly, we need to work on our national psyche and imbue our people with genuine pride in ourselves as a nation.”
That really means creating a culture of tourism.
That, in turn, means improving our tourism infrastructure, ensuring peace and order and security, and investing in advertising and promotions to reach, create awareness and persuade tourists, sportsmen, adventurers, World War II veterans, retirees, businessmen, investors, conventioneers and assorted travelers, as well as overseas Filipinos, to visit our shores.
… Heck! Why argue that “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” cannot be understood by non-Filipinos? It’s the easiest thing to add a parenthetical phrase that explains what it means. The more important point is whether or not we can support that statement.Was Senator Chiz Escudero right in commenting that there is no reason to change Dick Gordon’s “WOW Philippines” campaign?
Yeah sure. But if no advertising and promotions money is invested, it won’t work, either. And if the culture of tourism isn’t developed in our country and among our people, there will nothing to be “wowed” by.
… The reason Las Vegas is such a major tourist draw is that the casinos are investing heavily in tourism promotions. The reason Hawaii is such an attractive tourist destination is that the travel and tourist industry in the islands are investing heavily in tourism promotions.But in the Philippines, the Department of Tourism is expected to do all of the investing, while the travel and tourism industry does the complaining and criticizing.
… So what are they suggesting?Are they going to launch a contest on the best tourism slogan?
Will they create a committee of creative geniuses to concoct the right combination of words? Will Chiz Escudero and the Senate constitute a committee that will conduct an investigation into the reasons why our tourism industry has been left biting the dust behind Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the rest of Asia? Will Miriam Defensor-Santiago demand that Bertie Lim be replaced with “heavyweights”?
Or will someone sit down, do a reality check, calmly assess what resources are available and work on a viable plan that doesn’t depend on the syntax or symbolisms or visual appeal of an advertising slogan?
Several months ago (before P-Noy became president), I submitted a plan to Director Rene de los Santos of the Department of Tourism in San Francisco for a sustained media advertising campaign in the US, combining the limited budgets of the various stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry, as well as those government agencies desiring to reach out to the overseas markets.
My thesis is that, individually, none of them can afford to sustain a year-long effort — not even Philippine Airlines. But intermittent promotional blitzes and “marketing roadshows” are a waste of money. Without a follow-through, fat chance these efforts will sink in.
Breaking into a market is like pushing a boulder up a hill. If you don’t have enough muscle to push it all the way up to the top, as soon as you run out of steam, the boulder will roll right back to where you started.
So how to fund a year-long campaign? One way is to combine the limited resources of the stakeholders to make them add up to a substantial sum that can pay for such a campaign.
How does that work? Imagine a series of TV commercials and full-page or even double-spread full-color ads that talk about all of the wonderful things that all kinds of people can discover and relish in the Philippines.
Of course, that brings us back to making sure that all of those wonderfulthings are in place and worth offering to the world.
But, as far as I can tell, there are enough of them to get a viable campaign started. What I think needs to be done is for all of the interested parties to get together to agree on getting the infrastructure in shape for the follow-up campaign and for the long haul.
Pero, utang na loob, leave the copywriting to the copywriters.