Enlist the Pacman and junk that slogan
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-11-21
A bright proposal and a not-so-bright proposal for improving Philippine tourism had recently surfaced.

Let us first discuss the bad news, the not-so-bright tourism proposal. It was announced that from “Wow Philippines” the DoT (Department of Tourism) has shifted to a new promotional slogan – “Pilipinas kay ganda (Philippines so beautiful).”

Considering that the bigger objective for tourism promotion is to attract the foreign nationals – the new slogan, which is expressed in our national language, immediately drew a lot of flak. Foreigners could associate Pilipinas with Philippines but few of them will know what kay ganda (so beautiful) means. That will defeat the objective of mass communications to try to immediately establish rapport with the target market or audience. In an over communicated world where “Less is more” is the dictum – the new DoT slogan assumes the great risk that the target foreign tourist will not be attracted, much less convinced, to come here.

It is presuming too much that foreigners will be intrigued by what Pilipinas kay ganda means and will bother to read more, know more about our country. By using Filipino to communicate to foreigners, the DoT might just end up being mired in a battle to sell the new slogan instead of Philippine tourist destinations. It may have been justified to consider the new slogan if it meant something really novel, exciting or trend setting. It does not. It does not even carry the attraction and excitement that winning tourism slogans like Incredible India and Malaysia’s Truly Asia delivered.   

With very little promotion money compared to our neighbors and competitors — Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand — Philippine Tourism should not be embarking on these risky communication plans. This new slogan is like a wild shot from a .22 caliber pistol trying to nail a mouse from a mile away.

Tourism Secretary Bertie Lim may have been sold the new slogan by an impressive Communication Plan presentation. It happens every now and then that sub-standard ideas are sold to clients by slick presentations that succeed in concealing the weaknesses and flaws of the proposal. Clients should always be careful not to buy lock, stock and barrel the rationale for creative proposals. A well crafted rationale can make a sub-standard idea look superior.

The first lesson to be learned in Marketing 101 is that marketing begins and ends with the consumer. This new tourism slogan fails in that most basic of marketing lessons. It failed to look into the foreign tourist’s mind and appreciate what the foreign tourist will understand, will be looking for and will be willing to spend good money on. Good cuisine, interesting culture, memorable experiences, affordability, and friendly natives will naturally top the foreign tourist’s criteria — not learning a phrase in a different language.  

Sec. Bertie Lim should not even test market the new slogan because that will be a waste of promotional money which he has very little of and cannot afford to spend.
The bright tourism proposal is of course the suggestion to make Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao the presenter in the Philippine tourism promotional campaign. If US Senator Harry Reid saw value in Pacquiao as a political endorser — you can bet that Pacquiao will be a mega sell for Philippine tourism.

Pacquiao’s celebrity has extended beyond the realm of boxing fans. Even celebrities and superstars of other sports admire him. That is tremendous marketing capital. Can you imagine Pacquiao talking about the many tourism jewels of our country — Boracay, Tagaytay, the Hundred Islands, the Chocolate Hills and so forth? That is instant empathy waiting to be established with our foreign target audience.

Pacquiao on a world tourism promotional tour will also save us a lot of advertising dollars. Pacquiao will generate free publicity all over the world even if boxing is not on the agenda. Just last week, the star of Harry Potter expressed a keen interest to meet Pacquiao personally.

Pacquiao can even offset those questionable terror threat travel advisories which will negatively affect our tourism. Imagine Pacquiao assuring foreign tourists that any terrorist that will threaten them here will be given that vaunted left-right combination that has floored many of his ring opponents. It may be said in jest but coming from a very popular and generally liked Filipino, it will minimize the impact of the terror threat advisory.

Pictures and videos of our best tourist destinations could be duplicated by similar sites in Malaysia and Thailand, to name two of our major competitors. Like us, Malaysia and Thailand can also offer sea, sand and sun as well as friendly natives. However, foreign tourists will be more inclined to associate Boracay, Tagaytay and so forth with the Philippines when they see and recall Pacquiao fervently endorsing these destinations.

Pacquiao on the spot at Boracay, Tagaytay and so forth, bidding the foreign tourist I’LL SEE YOU HERE, is a much stronger sell than Pilipinas kay ganda. The defective new slogan needs a promotional plan to sell it while Pacquiao brings with him his own promotional arsenal.

Pacquiao offers such a big potential for tourism that a compensation scheme should be considered for him by the DoT. Why not offer Pacquiao a share of the added revenues from countries where his promotional activities bore fruit? It is only fair to compensate him for time he will spend outside of the boxing ring where he makes his billions.

For Pacquiao, promoting Philippine tourism is an even better option than occupying public office. When he promotes Philippine tourism, he will be making more friends and will be more endeared to his people. Public office will open him up for a lot of attack. Compared to the blows that he had received in boxing, Pacquiao will find that politically motivated attacks can be more devastating.

Promoting Philippine tourism and helping raise more revenues for our government will enhance the legacy of Manny Pacquiao. Running for an even higher public office could altogether undermine his legacy.

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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