October 04, 2011

DOT rebids brand campaign

TO generate a more “competitive presentation” for the widely anticipated new Philippine tourism slogan, acting Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. has announced the rebidding of his agency’s branding campaign.

Acting Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. (Photo courtesy WOO Consultants via The Carillon)

This, after only one advertising agency, BBDO Guerrero, submitted a bid under the old terms of reference (TOR), where the project cost P13 million. This allowed the Department of Tourism (DOT) to declare the initial bid a failure, officials said.

DOT Spokesman Benito Bengzon Jr. told the BusinessMirror the new bid project would only cover the creation of the slogan or “concept,” and not the actual production of the ad materials. “Some of the deliverables in the original TOR were removed,” he said in a text message.

As such, bidders will no longer be required to produce the creative materials for the branding exercise, such as audio-visual presentations/TV commercials, brochures and posters. This made it possible for the DOT to reduce the budget for the project to only P5.6 million, he added.

Jimenez said he had to “seek the approval of the [Government Procurement Policy Board], if we could rebid the project.” He was advised that as head of the agency, he could “amend the TOR if it could be shown that pursuing the project would be disadvantageous to the government. We could thus declare a failure of bidding,” explained a DOT source familiar with the project.

The same source said that if the government agency had proceeded with the initial bid with only BBDO as the lone bidder, “it would have cast doubt on the DOT and BBDO. As the secretary has said, this is the ‘most anticipated tourism slogan in Philippine history,’ so we want the government, and the public, to get the best deal. A rebid would allow a competitive presentation from more advertising agencies.”

According to the new “Request for Expression of Interest” issued by the DOT’s Special Bid and Awards Committee and published on the agency’s web site, prospective bidders in the “Philippine Branding Campaign Focusing on Tourism” will be required to submit a “nonrefundable fee of P100.00” to the DOT cashier by October 10, if they want to secure eligibility documents or a checklist.

Shortlisted bidders will be announced on October 12, and can then secure official bid documents until October 30. Bid documents may be secured upon payment of a "nonrefundable amount of P5,000" to the DOT cashier.

Bidders have only until October 31 to submit their bids. Accepted bids will be asked to “make a pitch” to DOT officials on November 21.

The bid project is described as the “development and implementation of a branding campaign that shall highlight the competitive advantage of the Philippines as an international and domestic tourist destination.” The contract duration for the winner is two months.

Jimenez, it will be recalled, had announced to the media that seven of the top advertising agencies in the country were already working on the branding effort.

But the BusinessMirror sources in the advertising industry said the agencies, which had expressed interest in the initial bid, withdrew after they found the bid process “so tedious.”

Only BBDO Guerrero was left to pursue the project. It was the same agency that conceptualized the “Wow Philippines” tourism campaign under then-Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon.

A DOT source confirmed the withdrawal of “four or five agencies,” which had participated in the initial bid, “because they found the [P13-million] budget insufficient.” The sixth bidder, the source added, was “disqualified on a technical rule,” thus leaving only BBDO.

Industry sources said the other agencies that had prequalified in the initial P13-million bid were J. Walter Thomson, McCann Erickson, Dentsu Inc., J. Romero and Associates Inc., Lowe Philippines Inc. and Young & Rubicam. It was learned that the DOT did not allow Y&R to proceed with its bid.

While declining to reveal further details of the new TOR, the same DOT source intimated that these were “substantially changed to make it more acceptable to the ad agencies.”

He said the DOT expects about 30 advertising agencies to express interest in the rebid of the new tourism-slogan project, thereafter, this would be whittled down to about seven prequalified for the actual bid. “Of course, it could also be less than seven, it’s not a fixed number,” he said.

Despite the project rebid, Jimenez was still firm on unveiling the new tourism slogan “before Christmas. Kailangan matapos na,” the source said.

In a press statement released late Friday, the DOT said: “The arrival of the new Secretary of Tourism, Ramon Jimenez Jr., a former advertising executive, has led to a rethink over the concept of the campaign and TOR and so necessitates a declaration of a failure in the previous bidding process.”

It also quoted BBDO Guerrero’s Chairman and Founder David Guerrero supporting the rebid for the branding project: “We are one with the Department of Tourism in expressing the desire for having more than one agency to present its ideas for the country’s branding campaign in what should be a highly competitive process. Indeed, this is about getting the best result for the nation’s advertising and so we are only too happy to fit in with the secretary’s plans.”

Citing an unnamed “spokesman,” the DOT press statement added: “The failure in the bidding process is no reflection on the ability of BBDO Guerrero to meet the previous TOR and the responsibilities of the campaign and we certainly look forward to welcoming them to the new process.”

An official of BBDO Guerrero, who declined to be identified, said the agency “will definitely join” the rebid.

(My story was published on the front page of the BusinessMirror, Oct. 3, 2011.)

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