November 17, 2010

DOT's new campaign slogan is uninspired

(Image courtesy of Anton Diaz)

EVERYONE by now has probably heard of the new branding of the Department of Tourism for its marketing campaign. I can't say I am all that pleased with the "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" slogan, although the colors of the letter are pretty, and it does encapsulate what the Philippines is all about - the sun, the sea, the coconut trees swaying in the wind, the tarsier in Bohol.

The DOT has been using Wow Philippines for the longest time, a brand that was conceptualized under the term of the Sec. Richard Gordon so it must be around nine years old by now. I agree with the DOT, that maybe after all these years (and especially after all the tourism challenges we've had - the hostage crisis, the travel advisories) maybe it was time for a change.

I guess what everyone's feeling right now is that the slogan just falls short of everyone's expectations. You have money to spend on research, focus group discussions, and surveys, might as well come up with something really catchy, that could really make tourists stand up and notice the Philippines from the rest of Asian nations vying for their attention ("Incredibly India", "Amazing Thailand", "Malaysia Truly Asia"). Well using Filipino, instead of English, sorry to say, just doesn't make sense. Generally, no one, outside of the Philippines, knows Filipino (the language) or Tagalog (the dialect) on which the language was based on.

I personally feel that it sounds like a morning show. Ayan, na-free advertising pa tuloy ang Umagang Kay Ganda sa marketing slogan na yan! haha. Seriously, it sounds show-bizzy, if there is such a word. It's just so uninspiring (or uninspired?).

I understand that there was considerable research poured into this branding, and Sec. Lim says when they tested it w/ some foreigners, the latter liked it. I am open-minded enough to accept that there may be truth to that, bec. foreigners just have different taste from us. I mean this is why despite many people carping about how outdated DOT's marketing efforts are bec. they still showcase our native dances during marketing efforts abroad, well the foreigners just love it. We might think it's baduy or unsophisticated to use this tack, but well, so far it's still been working. Well, the jury is still out that slogan.

Although Sec. Lim is correct in saying that even countries like Spain uses its own language for its logo i.e. "España" (created by the late Joan Miro, btw), I'd like to point out that its marketing campaign is in English. This year, it just launched its "I need Spain" campaign.

And of course, there was the brouhaha over the new web site ( that opened up wonderfully to the images of the activities one could engage in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the content was poorly written, with run-on sentences that didn't make any sense, an overly romanticized description of some destinations, and just really grammatically-challenged sentences. According to Usec. Enteng Romano, who was in charge of the project, they just basically gave a "facelift" to the old tourism web site, but didn't change the content w/c came from various DOT-administered sites, in answer to charges of plagiarism.

Also, the URL address was discovered as being quite similar to a porn site, Tut-tut people, let's not go there. Stay with me first ;p

But it was disheartening to hear his explanation bec. Romano was hired specifically for his new media skills. During the election period, it was his group which came out with all those clever online campaigns for Noynoy Aquino. What happened? Well it was a rush job pure and simple. To be fair, at least DOT took down the site immediately. But the damage has been done. Did I hear someone out there say, "Haste makes waste".

Look, I have no doubt that Sec. Lim and U/Sec Romano's hearts are in the right place. Based on the few interviews I've had with them since they assumed office, I know they mean well and have put the country's interest before their own. But this slogan just leaves much to be desired. I hope they consider improving it.

Check out Ivan Henares' views on the rebranding effort here and also that of Anton Diaz here.

Btw, I just want to point out that the branding project didn't cost P100 million as some have alleged, and will not go all to Campaigns & Grey. Apparently, this story in GMA.TV caused the confusion (no fault of the GMA guys), which talks about the budget earmarked for social marketing next year. The PKG branding effort itself cost "less than a million pesos," according to U/Sec. Romano. (Pls read my BusinessMirror story below on the issue.) DOT is still open to suggestions about the rebranding, so if I were you, send them your great ideas now.

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DOT launches new campaign

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) launched its new marketing slogan Monday night, anchored on the beautiful destinations of the Philippines, and the many activities tourists can engage in when visiting the country.

However, less than the 24 hours after the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” brand was launched, its accompanying web site ( was shut down by the DOT due to accusations of publishing plagiarized content.

On the #helpDOT discussion on Twitter, it was also pointed out that the web site’s URL was similar to a porn site’s URL (

(Screen grab courtesy of Carlo Ople)

The new logo uses splashy tropical colors in red, green, blue and aqua for the word “Pilipinas,” with the photo of a tarsier to represent the first “i.” The letter “L” is shaped like the trunk of a coconut, and the dot above the third letter “i” is a playful yellow sun. Underneath the “kay ganda!” phrase are two aqua squiggly lines representing the waves on a sea. Beside it in tiny letters is an instruction of how to pronounce “ganda” and what it means in English.

In an e-mail to the BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said the new slogan wants to convey “what else, the beauty of the Philippines! In surveys conducted among visitors from different nationalities, the top choice of visitors of what attracts them to the Philippines is the warmth of the people and the beauty of our land and sea. So instead of doing the same as the [other countries] by use of an adjective like ‘amazing’ or ‘incredible’ or ‘your’ before the name of the country, we chose to make an exclamatory remark ‘Kay ganda!’ after Pilipinas. Then in smaller print we give a pronunciation code and an explanation (So beautiful! or Kirei desu!) in the language of the target market.”

Prior to Monday evening’s official launch of the new marketing slogan/branding at the Oceana, San Miguel by the Bay, at the Mall of Asia before tourism stakeholders, bloggers and some members of the hotel and restaurant industry already questioned why the new slogan was in the Filipino language.

President Aquino in a statement last week in Yokohama already announced the new slogan would “reinvigorate” the country’s tourism campaign, replacing the WOW Philippines slogan. That branding was adopted some nine years ago under the term of then Tourism secretary Richard Gordon.

The Philippines’ image abroad suffered a setback after the botched rescue attempt of Hong Kong tourists on August 23, as well as the recent travel advisories by the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France and New Zealand warning its citizens not to travel to the Philippines due to terrorist threats.

Lim explained: “Some countries use their own language in promoting their country, e.g., España, Polska, etc. Moreover, in Europe, the Philippines is known as Filipinas, or Philippinen or something else. So why not use Pilipinas? The driving reason for using Filipino is that we are compelled to do it differently than our neighbors because they can outspend us by 15 to 20 times. If we do not differentiate, we will be drowned out by their greater ability to repeat their messages. Besides, in some interviews I recently had with a few English tour operators, they said using our own language appeals to their high-value market, which wants to learn about the culture of the places they visit. When they come here, they want to greet or thank us in our language.”

Lim stressed that the branding was still in its “conceptualization stage” and was shown to tourism stakeholders. “It is not yet final but we would appreciate support for it. The actual execution will still be bidded out where ad agencies can participate. We will go throughout the regular government procurement processes.”

The Philippines’ branding—logo, slogan and research—cost “less than a million pesos, a friendly rate,” according to Tourism Undersecretary Vicente Romano III, who handles planning and promotions.

Advertising giant Campaigns & Grey undertook the branding project.

“[The branding] underwent a rigorous process, it was not only us at the DOT which conceptualized that,” he pointed out partly in English.

Yolanda Ong, a supporter of President Aquino’s electoral campaign, heads Campaigns & Grey, which produced the pre-campaign TV commercials called “30 seconds with Noynoy.”

This is not the first project of the advertising firm with the DOT, however. In March 2009 it snagged the medical tourism campaign undertaken by DOT agency Philippine Convention and Visitors Corp.

On the new web site, Romano admitted that the deluge of negative feedback and comments forced the DOT to close it down in the meantime. A few hours after the launch, #helpDOT on Twitter engaged various tweeters in a discussion on how to improve the slogan and the web site. Some felt that the new slogan sounded too “showbiz,” while some accused the site creator of publishing content “copy and pasted” from other sources, and that its URL address was similar to a porn site’s web address.

Several tabs on new site also linked to the old DOT web site whose first page carries a photo of Secretary Lim and a brief message to the industry about his plans.

“We decided to put it down first due to the comments we received. Basically, it was just a face-lift of the old [DOT] site,” Romano said. He added that a new URL address will be chosen, the content would be cleaned up and a new site should be up in three weeks.

He explained that the content in the new site “came from the different tourism web sites the DOT had been administering. This is still a work in progress, and it was just an interim site that we rushed in time for [Tuesday] night’s launch of the new slogan. We just wanted to change the look first but not the content [which was sourced from DOT’s other sites].”

Other sites administered by the DOT are Experience Philippines, Visit My Philippines and WOW Philippines. There are other sites as well administered by the DOT’s tourism attachés in their host countries.

Romano said it was the hope of the DOT to just fuse all these web sites into one general web site, which will be helpful to tourists.

Internet marketing consultant Carlo Ople said he was also puzzled by the use of the Filipino language.

“This is a bit weird, since the target market is obviously the segment that can’t understand our language. Also it might put off all the other local dialects being used here like Cebuano, etc.”

But Ople said he liked how the first images seen when visitors clicked the site which “is the vibrant and fun images showcasing what the Philippines is all about.”

On his web site, Ople also pointed out, though, that the logo was too small to be seen and that the DOT needed to get a “language consultant” because of the content’s wrong grammar.

Romano said the interim web site was made by BCD Pinpoint, a company “doing our Pinoy homecoming campaign, which includes video production and several balikbayan sites. I just requested them to give a face-lift to our old web site. We are humble enough to accept the comments and we’ve taken the site down.”

(UPDATE) : According to its web site, BCD Pinpoint was founded by one Dickie Soriano and has received a number of awards of its direct marketing projects. Its clients include Lufthansa, San Miguel Foods, Ateneo de Manila, to name a few.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

check Poland's travel tourism website