Why you should go to the PhilippinesBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
By summer, a billboard over a busy parking lot in New York would say: “Parking. It’s more fun in the Philippines.” The ad would have a beautiful snapshot of several bancas lined up on the white shores of Puerto Galera.
Somewhere else in the world, maybe in a busy subway, another billboard that boasts of the country’s world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces would say, “Going upstairs. More fun in the Philippines.”
Ditching the usual one-word adjective campaign pitch that neighboring countries have used to draw tourists, the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday unveiled the country’s new tourism slogan—“It’s more fun in the Philippines.”
In a press launch Friday, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said the six-word slogan was in response to the country’s need for a simple line that was “easily understood, competitive and differentiated” and one that would help the Philippines get a larger share of the tourism market.
But the most important feature of the brand-new slogan was “its truthfulness,” said Jimenez, a former top advertising executive behind the widely popular sales pitch for Jollibee’s food item, Chickenjoy.
“Finally, all the people who love the Philippines now have a simple, truthful answer to a question we are asked all the time: Why should I go to the Philippines?”
The new slogan not only invites visitors to see what’s in the Philippines but to join in the fun “and it’s the Filipinos that will make the difference,” Jimenez added.
“We can carry this. It’s how we see ourselves [and] how everyone who loves the Philippines, foreigners and Filipinos alike, see us,” he said.
The new campaign also tells the world that the country is not a mere island vacation known for its pristine and white beaches or a site full of historical relics and Spanish-era churches.
‘Reconnect with your humanity’
“Come to the Philippines because we are more fun… we are a place to reconnect with your humanity, with family, laughter and basically with yourself,” he further explained.
The new brand carries a bright, colorful logo that features a colorful “banig” or mat bearing a woven image of the Philippine map in yellow. Jimenez promised this would later be translated into a “very powerful” logo in merchandise.
The DOT’s international marketing pitch also has a local counterpart, #1forfun Philippines, which aims to encourage Filipinos to rally behind the new campaign.
“[With this], we are turning ourselves into ambassadors of our own country,” said Jimenez.
Along with the new campaign slogan, a new website was also unveiled, www.itsmorefuninthephilippines.com, which would later on be fully interactive and would carry information and linkages to key sites and other useful information about the Philippines.
What we can deliver now
Behind the new tourism sales pitch was advertising firm BBDO Guerrero, which bested seven other marketing and advertising companies for the contract for the country’s branding campaign.
Jimenez said BBDO Guerrero won the “monumental advertising pitch” conducted last year after it “captured the very spirit of what we have today; promise only what we can deliver now, not tomorrow but today.”
In creating the slogan, he said both the DOT and the ad agency made sure that the line was something easily understood by the world but competitive at the same time. “We have to challenge for attention,” he added.
Jimenez said they did not consider following the strategy of other countries by using a simple word such as “amazing,” “incredible” or “truly” as “the era of one-word adjective has ended… these are campaigns that will not necessarily serve our purposes.”
The tourism agency is hoping to draw 4.2 million tourist arrivals this year, bigger than last year’s 3.7 million arrivals.
Aquino enjoyed ‘immensely’
The DOT and the ad agency also presented the slogan late last month to President Aquino, who suggested making the colors of the logo “happier and brighter.”
“He thanked me and the team for giving him a good break that day. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant day for news until he saw the campaign… I take that to mean that he enjoyed it immensely,” Jimenez said of the Dec. 16 meeting with Mr. Aquino.
The President’s spokesperson, Secretary Edwin Lacierda, answered in the affirmative when asked whether Mr. Aquino has given the campaign his go-ahead.
Lacierda also expressed confidence that the campaign would generate more tourist arrivals. He noted that the DOT expects 10 million tourists in the Philippines by 2016.
Friday’s launching was without the pomp and pageantry that accompanied the unveiling of the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” tourism campaign in 2010 under the helm of Jimenez’s predecessor, Alberto Lim.
The rather short-lived campaign was roundly criticized by tourism industry leaders and lawmakers for being bland and unimaginative and for having a close resemblance to Poland’s tourism logo.
Warm reception in cyberspace
Unlike the previous one, the new slogan was met with a warm reception in cyberspace, becoming one of the day’s top trending topics in the hugely popular micro-blogging site, Twitter.
Graphic novelist Neil Gaiman on Twitter even agreed with the new slogan, saying “#itsmorefuninthephilippines hashtag is a true one. They applaud loudly and hug you a lot.”
But there were also those who were not impressed. Some said they still preferred the old one, “Wow Philippines” while others expressed concerns over the government spending money on a new campaign when it should be improving on the country’s airports and security.
Others described the new campaign line as “boring” and “unoriginal” particularly after word spread on the Internet that the same slogan was carried by a Swiss tourism ad in 1951.
Learning about this, Jimenez on Twitter said it was just a coincidence. “The line isn’t a manufactured slogan. It’s simply the truth about our country. Don’t be swayed by people who are trying to punch holes in it.”
He added, “No one can own the expression ‘it’s more fun’ but it’s very true for the Philippines so it becomes ours.” With a report from Norman Bordadora