Pinoy crabs kill the fun in the Philippines
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-01-10

Your Chair Wrecker was an advertising agency professional from 1969 to 1985. Starting as an ad agency Assistant Account Executive in 1969, I was a CEO of another ad agency by the time I shifted to television. I cannot help but comment on the notorious Filipino crabs and their uninformed criticisms on the new tourism slogan — “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Immediately after our Department of Tourism (DoT) launched the new slogan, the notorious Filipino crabs pulled out a 1950s tourism promotion ad of Switzerland with a headline — “It’s more fun in Switzerland.” Perhaps inspired by the November 2010 controversy of the junked “Pilipinas kay ganda” DoT ad campaign, the crabs started trying to pull down the “It’s more fun” brainchild of DoT secretary Mon Jimenez and his ad team.

The two ad campaigns cannot be compared simply because the objections to “Pilipinas kay ganda” are totally different from the objections being leveled against “It’s more fun.” The objections to “Pilipinas kay ganda” were valid while the objections being raised against “It’s more fun” are flimsy and devoid of substance.

Two big issues hounded “Pilipinas kay ganda” and these were its slogan, which was stated in Filipino, which foreigners will not understand, and its logo design, which critics said came close to that of another country. It was the use of Filipino in an ad campaign that’s primarily targeting foreigners that killed “Pilipinas kay ganda.”

Immediately after the Swiss ad was raised against the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” ad campaign, Sec. Mon Jimenez responded on Twitter that: “No one can own the expression “It’s more fun” but it’s very true for the Philippines so it becomes ours.” Mon is right. Nobody can own the expression. “It’s more fun” is a commonly used expression and owning it would be tantamount to owning the alphabet. It’s a stupid criticism reflecting ignorance.

To harp on the copying of the Swiss ad is the same as making it a case of plagiarism for anyone to say I LOVE YOU. “It’s more fun” and I LOVE YOU are commonly used expressions and cannot be classified as original writings like Shakespeare’s “Now is the winter of our discontent” Richard III soliloquy or that “Madness in great ones must never unwatched go” line in Hamlet.

Crab narrow-mindedness focused on the theme of the campaign, as expressed in the “It’s more fun” slogan. Overlooked is the overall concept and planned execution. You cannot judge an advertising campaign without understanding the whole concept, including positioning, strategy and so forth. This is like judging a beauty contest solely on the basis of the shoes a contestant wore.

I asked my former college classmate Socky Pitargue about her take on the new tourism campaign. Both Socky and I started working in an ad agency even before finishing our Communication Arts course. Socky has been a copywriter and rose from the ranks, eventually forming her own successful ad agency — PC & V Communications, Inc. — where she sits as chairman. Century Tuna, Goldilocks and C2 are among her clients.
Per Socky: “Mon Jimenez once again proved what a brilliant problem solver he is. Okay, credit also goes to BBDO (the ad agency tapped by DoT) for the idea. But it takes courage to approve and go with a campaign that he knows a lot of people are already poised to bash.

So what’s a better campaign than what the people create themselves. To whine about the slogan now sounds petty. The attention has been directed to the idea and its power. Its interactivity has effectively divided the audience into 1) those who simply complain, criticize and train their eyes on only the negative, and 2) those who embrace the idea, participate in it, and have fun with it.

Budget, a problem? Use social media — again, a brilliant solution.

The new DOT campaign is one for the books. Here’s one advertising campaign where the people is the Medium AND the message!”

The current craze on Facebook shows how viral the new DoT campaign has become. Filipinos have caught on to the concept and are making it their choice of expression. The crabs failed to appreciate the realities that the DoT has to cope with — lack of ad budget to compete with our ASEAN neighbors, the biggest constraint.

The crabs also failed to appreciate that an ad campaign succeeds or fails on the basis of the execution. A brilliant headline or slogan placed on an ad where the visuals don’t jibe with the concept will have only two chances of succeeding — none and nil. The visual aspect of the “It’s more fun” ad campaign is what delivers the impact. Proof of this is what is now raging on social media — people doing their own visual renditions of “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Another advertising veteran, Dennis Garcia of Hot Dog and Chubibo fame, composed a series of spoofs of the “It’s more fun” campaign. These spoofs actually demonstrated the potential of the concept. Many were inspired to start their own renditions.

We have a brilliant ad campaign in “It’s more fun” and we shouldn’t allow the notorious crabs to ruin it.

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