Sunday, November 24, 2013


by Roger Pe

“Telenobelas” on Philippine television are getting more and more interesting every season. They are now well written, better produced and their appeal cuts across all socio-economic groups. Even ‘senoras’ in gated villages tell people: “We watch them,” without batting an eyelash.

If there are bottlenecks during rush hours, could it be that people are hurrying home to catch the next episode on primetime? Chances are.

They could also be rushing to watch special telecasts, global news, sports, lifestyle, movie re-runs - the same programs the world watch.

Technology has made televiewing as vivid as it can get, as spectacular as it was meant to be. Television has dominated Philippine homes for decades and ownership continues to rise.

The cheapest form of entertainment, source of news and other information has deeply penetrated Filipino households, most notably CD income groups, with some even owning the latest models.

Back in the 70s, only a third of Filipino households owned TV sets. Two decades later, 84% were tv watchers, and close to 97% in the capital city watched tv shows at any given time.

At the turn of the new millennium, that figure has gone to the roof by over 100%. With the advent of cable tv, the boom just exploded like a megabomb.

Soon after, the country’s biggest networks aired programs in HD (High Definition).
As cable tv viewing became the new standard, there were also disruptions, connection, reception and other problems attached to analog cable technology.

Welcome to 100% digital world

Today, Filipino cable subscribers are enjoying affordable digital tv, an experience that just might spell the end of cable analog and take household entertainment to new heights.

Annie Naval, COO and Managing Director of Cignal TV, formerly Mediascape, Inc, a subsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings, tells Inquirer Business Sunday readers why over 500,000 Filipino subscribers are now enjoying convenient, more pleasurable, value-added and glamour-filled tv viewing.

BF: You are the only one using a satellite dish, what is the advantage of having one compared to cable analog?

AN: Cignal is the country’s premier DTH (direct-to-home) satellite provider. DTH cable services mean that television signals are directly received on the subscriber’s satellite dish unlike standard cables where connection goes through several satellites and antenna stations.

This basically means DTH offers convenience and faster installation as there’s no need to do cabling in and around the house. All it takes is a dish installed on your terrace and a set top box connected to the dish (it usually takes us about 24–48 hours to install in stand alone establishments).

Another advantage of DTH service is its reach. Even if you’re located in a remote area, you can get stunning, digitally clear reception and you can avail of its benefits just by one-time installation of its devices.

The satellite dish antenna is exposed outdoor, what happens if it rains?

There is that common perception that when it rains, signal would be lost. But technology has improved by leaps and bounds.

Of all the providers, we really invested in reliability and service. Of course, there are times that this happens, depending on how bad the rain is. Heavy rains are really a challenge not only for us, but also for all cable providers.

For Cignal, it’s usually from seconds to 2 minutes only, then it’s back. It happens when a thick cloud passes and blocks the satellite dish. Clouds move fast when it rains, so once they go away, we’re back online.

What is 100% digital in layman’s term?
It refers to the reception, 100% digital means clearer resolution.

Does digital mean automatic HD picture resolution?

No. Both digital and analog can actually carry HD channels. The difference lies on the resolution. Given that, we are digital, and reception is guaranteed to be better.

Your brand has grown by leaps and bounds, giving Filipino households an alternative, to what do you attribute this to?

Cignal is 100% digital, so its 100% clear.

We have more HD channels. To date, we have 90 channels and out of 90, 23 are HD. HD is a built-in feature to every Cignal postpaid plan, unlike others where it is an add-on to a current plan.

Since HD’s introduction, Cignal has always built it in to postpaid plans. And of course, Cignal provides content and quality of programming at affordable rates. We have a roster of postpaid and prepaid plans available from as low as P430 for postpaid and P290 for prepaid.

In terms of content, Cignal also has its own produced-channels, which are Colours and Hyper. Colours is designed to cater to the female market while Hyper is more for men and a sports channel.

In Colours, we have cooking and home improvement shows. We also have Glamfest, which is a campaign to celebrate airing of 5 of Hollywood’s hottest shows.

The first one was the American Music Awards, which air LIVE on November 25. The next one will be the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, to air on December 19. By next year, we will have the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Grammy’s, which we will all air live.

How aggressive are you in promoting the brand on the ground?

Because Cignal is an experiential product, on-ground is really very important. The most effective way of doing on-ground is through live feed, e.g., we set up tents outside villages or have areas inside the malls.

Given the nature of Filipinos, they usually stop when they see something played on TV, they do that even in appliance stores.

We are present in malls as well as villages, public markets, etc. nationwide.
What we normally do is we choose an area and we go to their covered basketball court and spend the weekend there where they can watch programs on Cignal.

Sometimes we do activities like karaoke contest to get people in. It’s like conducting a small fiesta for them.

We likewise participate in bazaars. This November alone, we were in more than 50 bazaars. We make it a point to do a lot of on ground activities because one really has to experience it.

We also have on-the-spot applications for subscribers. For example, we are also available in appliance stores like SM appliance stores. When you buy a TV they will offer you Cignal. We also have a volleyball team called the Cignal HD Spikers.

What kind of a person is your brand if a prospective subscriber meets him today?

He’d be like Derek Ramsey, handsome, forward looking, very friendly and not snobbish. That’s Cignal today, gaining popularity.

How strongly do you believe that Cignal is the future of modern tv viewing?

We really want to be the more dominant player, so that’s one of our major thrusts. We see the potential of growing postpaid, so we want to cater to more and more postpaid subscribers. Of course introducing more HD channels, so we need to strengthen that foothold on HD.

Through innovations. We recently introduced an innovation called TV-to-Go, which allows one to view some of our channels as a Cignal subscriber in their mobile phones on Smart network. It’s an app that streams 13 channels so you can watch CNN, Cartoon Network, etc.

We also continue to try to bring in technology on the direct-to-home side.
We are also exploring other things like a better box where it will allow you to pause a show, rewind and record. So if you have to go to the bathroom or answer the phone, you pause the show.

Later on we can make movies available so you can rent the movies using the box. Those are the things were working on right now.


by Roger Pe

The product you are selling is the real star.

When celebrities are hot, the world comes to their doorsteps. When they’re not, nobody wants to touch them with a ten-foot pole.

That’s the law of advertising, especially when it comes to celebrity endorsers.
They move brands off the shelves, your brand future becomes bright (at least for now) and you smile, all the way to the bank.

Every marketer anywhere in the world lives by selling. Selling, especially in a very competitive market, can be tough. If the going gets tougher, some marketers opt for the easy way out. They knock on a celebrity’s door.

Businessweek calls celebrity endorsement a "borrowed equity", the term used to describe the value of a celebrity spokesperson.

“Borrowed equity is just that - borrowed. It may rub off on the brand endorsed, but in the long run, belongs to the celebrity. And one thing that celebrities should realize is, as quick as they ink a deal, they can quickly lose it in the wake of a scandal.”

Controversies have brought bad luck to celebrities that once enjoyed multi-million endorsement contracts. Among the high profile ones were those that involved Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Their headline-causing scandals made their advertising deals dissipate into thin air, inch by inch until they disappeared.

Heard about Paris Hilton's tv ads for Carl's Jr? They got a lot of attention but not for the burgers she endorsed. They became “building blocks in Hilton's wall of infamy, while the sponsoring brand endured thousands of consumer complaints”, according to the business journal.

Manny Pacquiao’s magnet to advertisers prior to his stinging defeat to Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez was mindblowing. Each time he closed a deal, the windfall he got electrified his handlers. If he were an earthquake, his tremor would reach Intensity 10 on advertising Richter scale.

The world’s biggest sporting brand Nike signed Pacquiao up. Hennessy commissioned New York based ad agency Droga5, a multi-Cannes Lion winning ad agency, to do a tv commercial about his life, pushing him to the top of Forbes’ most sought-after global celebrity endorsers list. In a different celebrity ring all his own, no one comes close to Pacquiao, even after his last two controversial fights.

Who are the biggest Filipino celebrity endorsers then after Pacman? Inquirer Business Friday makes a survey and the Top 12 are:

1. Kris Aquino. The presidential sister is also one of the top Filipino taxpayers. Labeled as “Queen of Talk” and “Queen of All Media” you often see her endorsing products for many different brand categories.

2. John Lloyd Cruz. Sought by many marketers for his popularity, wholesomeness and boyish looks, aside from the fact that his movies are blockbusters.

3. Kim Chiu. Her youthfulness makes advertisers like her. She has made commercials for a shampoo, sanitary napkin, cola, fastfood, apparel, celfone and other for-teens-only brands.

4. Piolo Pascual. This boy-next-door type is undeniably, one of the most pleasant celebrities to work with, according to people who have worked with him.

5. Judy Ann Santos. Endeared by millions of soap-opera fans. Young mothers can easily emphatize with her, a convincing endorser for food and household brands.

6. Anne Curtis. The Fil-Australian mestiza has endorsed many top brands and market leaders. She is the face of a leading shampoo, beauty soap, feminine napkin, celfone, condominium, watch, fastfood, bank and a premium apparel brand.

7. Sarah Geronimo. Name it, the talented singer and charming morena beauty can easily fill up the biggest concert venues in the country.

8. Carmina Villaroel. The very popular actress who started early in her showbiz career is a favorite endorser for mom-who-loves-what-is-best-for-her-family roles. Usually seen with her twins and husband Zoren.

9. Robin Padilla. When it comes to tough-guy roles, the ageless actor commands top-of-mind awareness among advertisers.

10. KC Concepcion. Marian Rivera. Two of the country’s most beautiful and refreshing faces are tied in 10th place.

11. Daniel Padilla. The young actor’s rise to popularity is phenomenal and his star continues to shine brighter.

12. Michael V. Old-reliable crowd-drawer, the star of recent food seasoning, biscuit, and liquid dishwashing tv campaigns.

Local brands have also hired the services of Vic Sotto, Toni Gonzaga, Sam Milby, Coco Martin, Dindong Dantes, Ogie Alcasid, Erich Gonzales, Billy Crawford, Enchong Dee, Izza Calzado, Chris Tiu, Phil and James Younghusband, and maybe soon, the Teng Brothers.

Recently, Bench and Penshoppe have been the most ambitious, engaging hot Hollywood and international celebs like Taylor Lautner, Zac Efron, Joe Jonas, Adam Levine, Lee Min Ho, Lucy Hale, Ian Somerhalder and Leighton Meester.

Why do celebrities jump into the bandwagon?

Philippines’ top casting director and star-builder Roly Halagao gives a good answer: “Advertising contracts are validation of a celebrity’s superstar status. It’s like receiving a badge certifying that you have arrived. Without it, you really haven’t reached superstardom,” Halagao, who also teaches at Ayala’s Masters School for Models, says.

The next question: Are top celebrity endorsers also top taxpayers? Not so.
BIR’s latest report showed that 15 of Top 24 endorsers for 2011 did not make it to BIR’s Top 500 taxpayers list for the same year.

Rappler mentioned couple Carmina Villaroel and Zoren Legaspi, Marian Rivera, Robin Padilla, Sarah Geronimo, Judy Ann Santos, Anne Curtis, Angel Locsin, Boy Abunda, KC Concepcion, Dingdong Dantes, Gerald Anderson, Bea Alonzo, Jericho Rosales, and Ai-Ai Delas Alas.

For year 2012, the number 1 taxpayer among celebrities is controversial TV host Willie Revillame, paying nearly P64 million in income taxes. Revillame even ranked second overall in the latest list of top individual taxpayers released by the BIR.

Top celebrity taxpayers for year 2012, as published by PDI, October 30, 2013:

1. Willie Revillame: P63,901,751.38
2. Kris Aquino: P44,933,335.05
3. John Lloyd Cruz: P42,791,354.17
4. Sharon Cuneta: P42,025,524.05
5. Judy Ann Santos: P24,086,982.57
6. Piolo Pascual: P23,356,956.00
7. Manny Pacquiao: P22,381,,304.91
8. Bea Alonzo: P20,746,366.45
9. Sarah Geronimo: P18,319,361.21
10. Robin Padilla: P18,262,377.84

Using A Celebrity: Pros and Cons

As many case studies have proven, Celebrity Right can immediately boost sales by as much as 20%, says Businessweek.

Anita Elberse, associate professor at Harvard Business School, says: “Celebrity-endorsement has the power to instigate and inspire, enlighten and enrage, entertain and edify the consumer.”

If using a celebrity is part of clients’ marketing strategy and you’re stuck with it, ask if the persona is relevant to the campaign. Probe deeper if he or she fits perfectly to the brand character they are trying to build.

A few examples: Nike's rapid success in the golf category was chiefly because golfers wanted to lay claim to the number-one golfer in the world. Of course, that was before hell broke loose and advertisers started distancing from Tiger Woods.

Rihanna's "Umbrella" song at the Grammy Awards was a big hit and her designs for Totes' umbrellas sold out like crazy at retail stores.

Halagao says, celebrity talent fees are expensive in the Philippines. “If you can afford a lot of money for the borrowed equity of a talking head, go ahead. But know that celebrities exist in public eyes, surrounded by nosey media. One embarrassing act can damage your brand,” Halagao says.

Businessweek mentions a chilling reminder: “Once you tie your brand identity to a celebrity, living or dead, you're hostage to that person's image.”

Your brand, the celebrity

So do you still need a celebrity endorser to sell your brand?

Instead of paying big amount of money for a celebrity that is already well paid, use that money for product research.

Invest on improving your product.
Make your brand more appealing to consumers. Don’t be lazy in creating your own original equity. Develop creative ideas that can cut through the clutter when advertising it. Demand more from your ad agency.

Study the business landscape and don’t do what competition is already doing. With these, who needs a celebrity endorser when your product already is?

Sunday, November 3, 2013


by Roger Pe

A world-class airport auto-advertises its host country by a considerable mileage, to some extent much bigger than the impact of television commercial.

That is one of the reasons why some countries have redefined their concept of airports to more than just drop-off points. They have evolved to destinations themselves.

Changi International Airport in Singapore is the world’s best airport for the 17th time. It has spas, theatres, butterfly garden, 4-storey slide, shower rooms, outdoor swimming pool, fabulous shopping and dining, aside from having a gorgeous terminal.

Chek Lap Kok in Hongkong is one of the busiest in the world, awesome for cleanliness, leisure amenities, dining and shopping. Do you have a longer layover? You can play golf on its 9-hole course.

Schiphol in Amsterdam was a military airfield before it was transformed into one of the world’s frenetic airports. It has a casino and even a library.

Just by looking at ten of the best airports in the world (five of them of them from Asia) you’ll see why their tourism arrivals are double-digit figures.

Having a wonderful airport is a giant leap toward achieving tourism goals. Indecision, holding infrastructure at bay and using band-aid solutions that peel off easily as soon as the next jetliner taxis in, make us settle for the crumbs.

Though not in Top 10, some Southeast Asian countries also have the best airports in the world. Kuala Lumpur International Airport has a posh train system inside the terminal that extends to the main city as a bullet train. No wonder its tourist arrivals have reached over 25 million.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok is the reason-to-believe why Thailand enjoys a tourism boom all-year round. It is just efficient even if the Thais could hardly speak English.

The ignominy of having the “worst airport in the world” is mindboggling. If we can build five of the world’s biggest and handsome malls why can’t we build an airport that we can be truly proud of?

An efficient airport contributes to tourism growth in the country. The Philippines remains the least favorite tourist destination in Asean in 2012 (data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show. The country’s total tourist arrivals only reached 4.27 million in 2012. Malaysia was highest with 25.03 million, followed by Thailand, 22.35 million, Indonesia, 8.04 million, and Vietnam, 6.85 million.

What’s wrong with our main gateway? Naia1 is old, built for a 4.5 million-passenger-capacity that’s now overstreched to 8 million. It has no more room for expansion and bombarded with a lot of complaints - from physical to navigational capabilities (collapsing ceilings, stinking toilets, badly in need of a makeover, overcharging cabs, etc.). Naia 1 continues to rattle our nerves.

The world’s biggest aircraft, the A380, cannot land in Naia. Its gravest problem is being a safety risk. During peak hours, planes hover around metro-Manila skies for excruciating minutes to wait for their turn to land, a waste of gasoline, a cardiac experience, rain or shine.

It has caused trauma to passengers, a disaster waiting to happen because of one thing: the airport has only one runway (other Asian cities are already building their third and fourth).

Naia 2 is much better physically but it is monopolistic and handles only PAL. Naia 3 is the best of the lot in terms of design but its interior is beginning to look like crowded ‘tiangges’. But still, these two are stuck with Naia 1’s sole runway and that is the major headache.

Lately, DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) engaged Japan International Cooperation Agency to do feasibility studies for a new airport that would either augment or replace the congested Naia 1.

The basic parameter given by DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya was: it should be 20 minutes away from the metropolis. The result of the study gave two options to President Aquino, and MalacaƱang reportedly was inclined to adopt a dual or twin airport system than a single airport system.

The first option: Develop Clark International Airport in Pampanga, maximize the runway and terminal capacity of 32-year old Naia, and put up a new airport that would replace the congested international gateway.
The option also involves the closure and sale of Naia.

The second option: Operate Clark International Airport (it is completing a P412 million expansion of the existing terminal and is set to put up a P7.2 billion budget terminal), Naia and the new airport. Malacanang however said, “it will invest but won’t put all its eggs in Clark.”

Clark has two runways and can accommodate the world’s biggest aircrafts. Its land area can accommodate future expansion for third and fourth runways. If it can build a terminal comparable to Changi, we’re in business. But it needs a bullet train to transfer passengers to the metropolis. That is its biggest logistical nighmare.

A group of European airport construction experts from Denmark are in town working on the feasibility study of the country’s newest international airport - to be built on a reclaimed land off Sangley Point, the former US naval station on the tip of Cavite peninsula.

According to the reports, the development will be for a 50-million-a-year capacity airport terminal. The first of two runway systems, are estimated to cost P56.2 billion and P45 billion, respectively.

The project will also require the development of a connecting road network, as well as a snake-shaped, cable-stayed bridge that would connect the airport to Boulevard 2000.

If not for ‘monopoly perception’, Ramon Ang, Philippine Airlines’ President and COO, seem to have the best answer. Acording to reports, “Ang hopes to break ground before the year, a 4,000-hectare development with a 4-runway international airport, a modern air terminal capable of handling as many as 100 million passengers a year.”

Ang declined to name exact location but said, “it’s a 10-minute ride from EDSA using SMC’s proposed elevated roadway that cuts across Metro Manila on a north-south axis.”

The total project cost, he said, including the elevated tollway, a modern air terminal, runways and the acquisition of land “will be in the vicinity of $5 billion.” Asked if we can afford it, Ang said, “Of course.”

“If Malacanang opts for a dual-airport system, the country still needs a main gateway - its showcase and window to the world. That’s where it should invest in to harvest the golden eggs,” says a noted marketing professor.

The Best Airports

Why are they such? They are not mere drop-off points anymore. They have redefined airports with a new meaning.
They don’t treat passengers like herd of cattles. They provide comfortable sleeping refuge for those stranded by typhoons and flight delays.

The Top 10 winners of 2013 World Airport Awards, as announced this month by Skytrax, leading airline reviewer are follows:

1. Singapore Changi Airport (voted number one for the 17th year in a row
2. Incheon International Airport, South Korea 3. Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam 4. Hongkong Chek Lap Kok International Airport 5. Beijing International Airport 6. Munich International Airport 7. Zurich International Airport 8. Vancouver International Airport 9. Tokyo Haneda International Airport 10. London Heathrow International Airport

They were chosen based on the following categories: best terminal, shopping, security, cleanliness, dining, and more. More than 12 million people responded to this year's survey.

The Worst Airports

Travel website “Sleeping In Airports” released the results of its Best and Worst Airports for 2013, and mentioned the Philippines' main gateway once again as the world's “most notorious” airport.

Factors for the "worst airport" tag are crowded terminals, long delays, difficult transfers, lack of 24-hour food, dirty floors, bathrooms and food courts; unfriendly staff and airport scams, among others.

1. Manila International Airport Terminal 1
2. Bergamo Airport, Italy
3. Calcutta, India
4. Islamabad, Pakistan
5. Paris Beauvais, France
6. Chennai, India
7. Frankfurt Hahn, Germany
8. Mumbai, India
9. Rome Fiumicino, Italy
10. Los Angeles, USA

On a brighter note, Qatar Airways celebrated the launch of non-stop daily flights to Clark International Airport last Monday, October 28, 2013.

Qatar Airways A330 Flight QR930, touched down to a traditional water salute welcome. Airport and government officials, including the Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Philippines, Jassim A. Al Obaidli, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Commercial Operations – Network, Woo Yew Seong was joined by the Ambassador of the Philippines to the State of Qatar, Crescente R. Relacion.

With more airlines and bigger aircrafts flying into the country, the Philippines’ potential for tourism growth is huge. It should really have a huge infrastructure support from the government.