December 02, 2011

DOT to decide new slogan this week (UPDATED)

THE Department of Tourism is currently weighing the proposals of eight short-listed advertising agencies that submitted bids for the P5.6-million Philippines brand campaign project.

The agency’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) has until Wednesday to decide on the winning slogan and brand campaign from those proposed by eight of the country’s leading advertising agencies, according to Tourism Assistant Secretary Domingo Ramon Enerio III. Enerio oversees the branding campaign project, and is a member of the five-man SBAC.

The eight agencies—Dentsu Philippines Inc., J. Romero & Associates Inc., Lowe Inc., BBDO Guerrero Proximity Philippines Inc., DDB Philipines Inc., WPP/J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam Philippines Inc., and Aspac Advertising Inc.—made their advertising pitches to the SBAC on November 21 and 22, according to agency sources. They were earlier shortlisted from 13 agencies which had indicated their interest to participate in the bid.

In a text message, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., who sat in the presentations of the eight ad agencies, told the BusinessMirror that the proposed slogans and advertising concepts were all excellent.

Magaganda lahat. They were all rooted in solid strategy and showed the hard work everyone put in,” he said. “We are now in a difficult process of selecting a winner.”

In previous media interviews, the DOT chief promised to announce a new tourism slogan before Christmas.

Asked how the SBAC will be choosing the new tourism slogan and brand campaign, Enerio explained that it will be “a collegial decision with major directions coming from the secretary.” He declined to reveal any more details of the pitches made by the advertising agencies due to the “confidentiality undertaking” he had signed, but promised that “all will soon be revealed.”

Unlike the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” slogan prematurely launched during the tenure of Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, and which was later scrapped due to a major industry outcry, the new slogan would be tested, and consultations held with industry stakeholders, Enerio said.

“Consultations are essential to success, acceptance, and ownership of the brand by all stakeholders. For sure, the [new] brand will be vetted extensively before being announced,” he said.

A separate bidding will be conducted for the supplier of the advertising materials such as television commercials, brochures, posters, and other collateral materials. It will probably take a year before the new advertising campaign will be finalized and rolled out to the target markets.

The P5.6-million “Philippine Branding Campaign focusing on Tourism” is the DOT’s third try at creating a new tourism slogan for the country, which for years, has been using the “Wow Philippines” campaign crafted by BBDO Guerrero in 2007.

The Philippines, with its lackluster manufacturing sector and sluggish agricultural performance, has set its sights on the tourism industry as a new engineer of economic growth. At present, the sector accounts for less than six percent of the gross domestic product, unlike other countries such as Spain, Thailand, Singapore, etc., whose tourism sectors represent over 40 percent of GDP.

Visitor arrivals from January to September this year jumped 12 percent to 2.89 million from 2.58 million in the same period last year. Jimenez has announced a 4-million target for tourist arrivals in 2012.

The Philippines hopes to attract 6 million tourist arrivals by 2016, or when President Aquino steps down from office.

However, a meager tourism promotions budget, lack of adequate infrastructure and facilities, and conflicting government policies could stand in the way of achieving those numbers.

The DOT for instance, has had to make do with an annual budget of P2 billion allocated by Congress.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), the gateway to the country, is old and decrepit, with a runway too small to accommodate the growing number of flights in and out of Manila. Some of its passenger terminals such as Naia 1, for instance, have been dubbed the “worst in the world” by international media outfits and travel bloggers.

And while the Aquino administration has just implemented a “pocket open skies” policy to encourage more international carriers to come to the Philippines, the government continues to charge taxes and fees on foreign airlines which unnecessarily increases the latter’s operating expenses. Only recently, Air France-KLM announced it would be dropping its direct flights to the Philippines due to the continued imposition of these taxes.

(My story was published in the BusinessMirror, Nov. 28, 2011.)

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(UPDATE) Checked with Asec. Enerio just today, Dec. 2, and he said "deliberations are ongoing. Sec. [Jimenez] is out of town, so we continue to evaluate up to next week."

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