Fleeting celebration

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok July 14,2014 - 08:49 AM

One bit of good news that came like a bit of fresh air but did not quite get rid of the collective resentment over the pork barrel, Malampaya fund scam and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), is the honor reaped by the tourism campaign program of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The campaign “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” created by BBDO Guerrero for the DOT was chosen by the Warc of London as the world’s third-best marketing campaign based on performance in effectiveness and strategy competitions.

Warc is “a benchmark for commercial creativity,” according to Web resources. The proprietary methodology was developed by Professor Douglas West, a professor of marketing at King’s College of London to “reflect the growing importance of strategic thinking and measurement rigor in marketing.”

As a showcase of creativity from the best minds around the world, the Warc is a professional tool aimed to “help raise awareness of the leading cases.” The group tracked more than 1,700 winners in 75 different competitions, assigned points based on the awards won, whether gold, silver or bronze. It then weighted the points based on the competition’s rigorous standards and prestige in the global industry. The 1,700 was further trimmed to 100 out of which, the Philippines’ DOT campaign landed in the top 3.

The top prize went to the Egyptian campaign for Vodafone produced by JWT Cairo. The “Fakka” campaign targeted low-income Egyptians through a new distribution channel that turned the cards into a form of low-denomination currency that could be used by shopkeepers in lieu of small change.

The ad men in JWT Cairo have capitalized on the resourcefulness of Egyptians who are said to have a habit of replacing change with low-value items. The key was to integrate culture with relevant concerns, which led to the Vodafone Fakka concept.

“Fakka” became a sensation and I think this could be replicated in the Philippines where giving of small change usually halts the work of sales clerk in shopping malls and supermarkets. Oftentimes, I don’t get small change like 25 centavos or 50 centavos and sales clerks would offer candies for small change but I don’t support this idea. Clearly, a “Fakka”-like campaign could address the situation.

The second prize was taken by a US advertising campaign for American Express. “Small Business Saturday” was created by Digitas and Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

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To be clear, the Warc recognition is a tribute to the creative community in general and the advertising agency that conceptualized the tourism campaign in particular. What a respite from the spate of bad news in the local and national level. At least it gave Malacañang a source of good vibes. It highlighted the award-winning DOT campaign and the efforts of Secretary Ramon Jimenez, himself a master ad man.

I don’t want to be a killjoy but the Warc bronze award is not a seal of good housekeeping.  Still, the administration can derive something out of the recognition by dovetailing it with concerns previously aired by tourism stakeholders.

To recall, the Aquino administration is targeting 6.8 million tourist arrivals by the end of this year and 10 million in 2016. However, tourism industry leaders doubt whether this is a realistic target.

The tourism sector is keen to achieve the goal but they pointed to obstacles like inadequate infrastructure such as roads, airports and hotel facilities. Stakeholders are likewise worried that the moratorium on hospitality courses and excise tax on jet fuel could prove detrimental to the sector.

The excise tax on jet fuel has made the Philippines the “most expensive place in Asia to fuel an aircraft.” Aviation fuel suppliers pass on the higher costs to foreign carriers, spiking prices of airline tickets.

Basic infrastructure, tax on jet fuel, not to mention the prevailing high incidence of crimes, and terrible traffic situation in the capital city threaten the tourism targets and weaken the competitive edge of the Philippine tourism industry.

All told, the DOT campaign award becomes significant only when the tourism target of the Aquino administration is achieved. Otherwise, it is just a source of fleeting celebration.

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TAGS: controversy, corruption, DAP, Department of Tourism, Disbursement Acceleration Program, DOT, government, Malampaya fund scam

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