‘Brandstorming’ the BastilleBy Stephanie Tanco Gabaldon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
During my four-year stay at the University of the Philippines in Diliman (Quezon City), I never thought I would be part of the team representing the Philippines in the international and final round of L’Oreal Brandstorm 2012.
The competition was something my teammates and good friends—Rehi (Regina Dimayuga) and Ivania (Sy)—and I lived and breathed for the last few months of college. What should have been the most relaxing semester became extremely hectic, stressful and crazy.
L’Oreal Brandstorm, a global marketing competition for students, gives contestants the opportunity to be actual marketing managers for a L’Oreal brand.
For the 20th year of the competition, the challenge was to create a more beautiful world by developing an iconic and innovative product line for The Body Shop that adhered to its values. The grand prize was 10,000 euros for a trip anywhere around the world.
Our proposed product line, Bath Buddies, is a bath and body line for children aged 3-8 years old. It is designed for their sensitive skin while teaching them the importance of protecting Earth.
After winning the national finals, we were determined to reap the rewards of our hard work by winning the international competition.
Finally, we were in a plane to Paris, France, to represent not only our university, but also our country. As we checked into our hotel, three students were also checking in. They exuded confidence as they introduced themselves. I felt the competition was on.
Our excitement rose when we were declared winners of the first ever People’s Choice Award. Our team was invited to a press event where we met famous bloggers and media personalities. The event allowed us to share our insight on how important digital media were to today’s generation and how we were able to get 13,000 “likes” in the People’s Choice contest.
Best and brightest
We met the other teams at a cocktail party the next day. It was great to get to know students who were obviously the best and the brightest in their own countries.
We exchanged stories about our countries and they told us what they knew about the Philippines. We met someone who watched Filipino telenovelas and another who was pure Filipino!
On the day of the competition, I had mixed emotions. Ivania and Rehi obviously felt the same way. The three of us did our morning rituals in silence.
The 36 competing teams were put in four rooms for the semifinal round. Each room had a set of judges consisting of professors from universities worldwide, L’Oreal and The Body Shop executives and digital marketing experts.
We were the seventh presenters out of nine teams in our room. Seeing the presentation of the teams before us motivated us. We saw how tough the competition was. Everything went smoothly during our presentation and we were able to answer the judges’ questions easily.
As we returned to our seats with big smiles on our faces, I knew that we had a good chance of going into the finals.
We waited for nine hours for the judges’ decision. As the emcee started to call the top three that would make their presentation to a bigger audience, I started to get nervous, wondering if we would be among the three.
Prepared for defeat
After she announced the first two teams, I felt like crying and started to prepare myself to accept defeat. I told myself, “It’s OK, you did your best.” A glance at my teammates told me they too were getting scared.
When the emcee said “The Philippines!” I couldn’t believe we really made it, that we were the first Philippine team to be in the top three of Brandstorm.
Backstage, as our team prepared to present our idea for the very last time we promised each other we would give our all. We reminded ourselves that this was for everyone who supported us.
Our anxiety completely disappeared as we went up the stage and gave our best presentation yet. Seeing the audience’s smiles and hearing their earsplitting applause afterwards told us we made a successful presentation.
The judges first announced the third prize for Austria. Then came the news: there was a tie for first place. The judges had unanimously decided to give the first prize to Chile and the Philippines!
As we went on stage again, we were feeling so ecstatic. We actually won and made Brandstorm history. We were overwhelmed by the cheers from the crowd and the congratulatory messages from back home.
Although things still seem surreal now, this journey definitely allowed us to explore our potentials and learn more about ourselves. It gave us a firsthand experience of how corporate marketing really worked and to integrate what we had learned from school and real life.
L’Oreal Brandstorm has been a great learning experience. Our team not only created an amazing product but we also developed a special bond, which is priceless.
Personally, I feel that my L’Oreal Brandstorm experience has made me a better person. I showed passion, dedication and a competitive spirit. It also allowed Ivania, Rehi and me to prove that the Philippines could win in international competitions.