Branding Gone Bongga

It’s not yet final, but for now, the new campaign slogan for the Department of Tourism is “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda.” I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m not saying it’s stupid, I’m not saying it’s pangit or whatever.

I’m being gentle.

It’s a matter of execution, DOT Undersecretary Enteng Romano says, but that’s just it: it’s part of the execution.  “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda” may be the big idea of a whole set of specific executions for the DOT’s campaign, but even the creation of a tagline – the definition of the ought-to-be-situation of Filipino tourism – should be meaningful.  Should it translate to “Pilipinas: Life is Beautiful?”  Or “Beautiful Pilipinas?”

David Ogilvy puts it quite succinctly for copy headlines, but I think the same is true for slogans:

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

Which brings me back to why the campaign handle, well, sucks: in my view, “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda” is a good slogan, and a campaign in good spirits, but is out of context.

Before anything else: I’ve learned a lot from very experienced and esteemed people, friends, and colleagues over the past few years on the matter of copywriting, branding, and advertising.  It would be a shame if I didn’t share some of the things I’ve learned from them.  I’m not saying I know how to fix the problem or that I have the monopoly of judgment; it’s just considering the problem, framing it to everything I’ve learned, put some insight to it, and share it.

I tend to believe that in advertising (which all this is), there’s a difference between big ideas and big ideologies. Big ideas come from the context where everything takes place; this is why good advertisers and marketers take the time to read, observe, and do studies and research out in the field.  Big ideologies, on the other hand, are imposed on the context where everything takes place; it is the layer of illusion that keeps a lot of people from understanding the what-is.

Of course the DOT has a limited budget.  Of course the use of English sounds “mainstream,” and not really all that different from our Asian neighbors.  Yet of course, that’s the point of a competitive tourism campaign, or any campaign for that matter: to make do with what one has, and kick ass doing it.

Is “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda” useful for the DOT?  Yes, but it is not useful for the non-Filipino speaking tourists who come here.  The letdown is its arbitrariness: what emotions does it evoke?  When you speak of a beautiful flower, or a beautiful hill, or the beautiful sight of the Banaue Rice Terraces, what would the reader (in this case, the tourist) do next?  In this case, the beauty is imposed, it is contrived, and it is terminated early on without action; that 7,107 islands in the Philippines are beautiful.

My suggestion? “Welcome Home to the Philippines.” To me, it sounds complete.  It’s something that arises naturally from who we are as a people, emphasizing traits like community and hospitality.  It’s contextualized.  It calls people to action.  It closes around itself: there’s no place like home, and there’s no place like the Philippines, and you’re as welcome here as you are in your respective countries.  And it’s easy to play around with it for commercials, print copy, digital, and so on.

Of course, perhaps there are better ways of crafting the copy, or there are better ideas out there.  Like:

  • Party Pilipinas.  (Ain’t no party like a Pinoy party…)
  • Pilipinas, Gondoh Numun.  (You gotta admit…)
  • Pilipinas.  Shala Ditez.  (Charot lang.)
  • Philippines.  I Want It That Way.  (Which should lead to…)
  • Philippines.  Anywhere For You.  (Which inevitably leads to…)
  • Philippines: Larger Than Life.

And my three favorites:

  • Pilipinas: Bongga.  (Alternatively, “Pilipinas: Have a Bongga Ka Day.”)
  • Pilipinas, because love mo ‘ko.  (Yes, it’s that song.)
  • FuckYeahPhilippines.  (I’m so backing this up.)

One thought on “Branding Gone Bongga

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *