Saturday, July 26, 2014


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
July 25, 2014 issue

Digital technology is mindblowing, intimidating to some, overwhelming to others. Has it rendered you obsolete yet? It won’t if you keep on churning big ideas.

Technology often distracts audiences from the real thing. But with all the razzmatazz, it still cannot replace content. The idea is still king. Form or execution cannot sugarcoat it, a lame one or the lack of it.

“Digital is just distribution, a channel to disseminate big ideas,” says recent Manila visitor John Zeigler, DDB Asia-Pacific, Japan and India markets Group Chairman and CEO.

Zeigler says new media is sounding like a new age of confusion. “We’re getting distracted by the new genre, and forgetting the fundamentals of bringing solutions to clients to build their business.”

A 2014 Cannes jury member for Creative-Effectiveness Lions, Zeigler laments: “We’ve forgotten the consumers, the very people who make decisions. We are making it complex for them.”

Zeigler is proud of how the DDB network in Asia has turned around and cites what the DDB group of offices in Manila have achieved - from just one of the many, to landing on top of Asia’s most creative agency rankings to winning formidably in global effectiveness awards.

The “Global Marketer of the Year” (chosen by the Academy of Marketing Science in the latest edition of World Marketing Congress), Zeigler has been in the business for almost 30 years.

He started his career on the client side with Nabisco, Carnation, Nicholas Kiwi and Campbell’s Soups. He launched Kuczynski & Zeigler in 1986, which was acquired by DDB Worldwide in 1992. Since then, he has held leadership roles in the DDB network in Australia, New York, Dallas and Singapore.

As a former client, Zeigler loves the word ‘connect’. “Brands must know how to endlessly connect to the ‘unchanging man’, the consumer” as what DDB founder, Bill Bernbach referred to years ago.

“A communicator must be concerned with the unchanging man. A man’s desire to achieve, to survive, to thrive, to look after his own, that’s the person we need to understand,” he says.

To Zeigler, connecting also means not forgetting the people who butter the agency’s bread: The client. “The client is the integrator. If he does not buy your ad, you lose the connection,” emphasizing the importance of relationship in business building.

In today’s cutthroat competition, ad agencies have varying degrees of connection with clients. Either they are allies, yes-sir-kind, one-sided, short-term or business partners through thick and thin.

“Agencies must live and breathe the client’s business if they want the relationship to last,” Zeigler says.

“We must reach out to our clients and ask the right questions. Do the ‘coffee strategy’. Call and ask them out for coffee. Don’t wait for them to give you a brief. Ask: “how is your business?” What keeps you up at night? Then shut-up and just listen,” he says.

Creativity, the hard currency

Someone has said that creativity is good karma for agencies and clients, and it’s great for building team spirit. Truth is, everyone wants to belong to a winning agency.

Zeigler believes that agencies with big ideas for creativity “can drive any business forward.” While some clients still don’t understand the value of awards, Zeigler says they can be educated to creatively think for the good of the business.

He says a creative agency will always have the edge over one that is not. An agency that has been consistently recognized for the quality of its work can be an important factor in their decision making process to select an agency it wants to engage with.

When he was a client, Zeigler only cared about motivating his sales force to achieve financial targets. Having been to both sides of the fence and seen the big picture, he says clients should produce category-breaking work and engage with ad agencies known for their ideas and creativity.

In Mumbrella Asia, Zeigler stresses the importance of creative campaigns as a way to differentiate brands from their competition and to generate better business results.

“Great creativity will help clients keep their jobs longer, enable them to be paid more and be promoted to higher levels. It is a client’s secret weapon,” he says.

He points to a 2-year old research from a UK ad industry body that proved award-winning work is 12 times more effective than non-awarded work. “Ideas should be bigger than media plans,” he says.

He challenges clients to reduce their media spend and reallocate precious resources to the development of better ideas and creative thinking, dramatizing the famous Bernbach line: “A great ad can do the power of ten.”

Stop thinking like an ad agency

Asked on how he wants to see DDB Asia five years from now, Zeigler says he wants DDB to be known as a powerful network that not only develops effective and world-class creativity but also invents products for humanity.

He mentions how DDB Singapore invented an app to make visually impaired people to ‘see’ and praises a DDB Sydney-made app to make people arrive home safely.

Zeigler is proud of the fact that the DDB Asia-Pacific region has become the role model for DDB worldwide because of its “Creativity for Humanity” mantra.

“Today is an exciting time to deliver long-term value and do fundamental changes to influence clients better,” he says.

Zeigler says agencies should go beyond traditional ad agency work. He advises young ad people not to talk about the ad, but talk more about the business.

Why? “Because it is an opportunity for the ad industry to reinvent itself as we are in the business of finding creative solutions. We’re here to make their business grow, not just to make ads,” he says.

On why DDB Asia is making a dramatic comeback in the region, Zeigler says it’s because of the DDB heritage of creativity that works.

“We have the best people in every local market. We are truly global not only in structure, but also in perspective. Our creative rating and reporting systems are stringent. Culturally, we are strong,” he says.

His parting shot to local DDBers: “We all have to go through the daily grind to pay for our bills, but never forget that we all want to achieve greatness, because nobody goes to bed at night and think, “Thank, God, I’m average.”

Good isn’t good enough, Zeigler says. “Push yourself to do more with your talent. With our limited time on this planet, write down three big ideas you want to own then go forth and change the world.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
July 11, 2014 issue

When the World Cup, watched by 1 billion televiewers all over the globe ends in Rio de Janeiro, there will definitely be new soccer superstars. Not only will they be revered as heroes in their home countries, they’ll be first thing on marketers’ agendas. They’ll be offered juicy endorsement contracts on a silver platter.

American goalie Tim Howard is one of them and he is destined to become a millionaire.

Advertisers are now chasing Howard though USA didn’t make it to the quarterfinals. Reason: Howard turned back 16 shots blasted by Belgian booters in their do-or-die game, the most saves ever recorded in a single World Cup match.

Second, the USA-Belgium face-off was the highest rated soccer game in the history of U.S. cable TV, registering 21.6 million viewers. Third, Howard’s name was tweeted 1.8 million times on Twitter. He was also named “Man of the Match” at the end of the game and voted as World Cup’s Best Goalie halfway through the tournament.

Rodriguez of Colombia, Messi of Argentina, Muller of Germany, Robben of Netherlands, Neymar (before his fractured vertebra) of Brazil are just some of the players now being relentlessly hounded by endorsement agents. The new poster boys of soccer, half of them good-looking, are enjoying a global following because of their incredible skills. So who needs Beckham and Ronaldo?

Back home, how many brands have the Younghusband brothers endorsed? Quite a few and for sure, more brands will be knocking on their doors now that the world’s most watched tv event is reaching the final stage.

In her latest tv commercial, Kris Aquino walks in a fastfood restaurant and is served a new dish on the menu. She picks up a chicken drumstick, fried Chinese-style, and chomps nonchalantly. She then mouths her favorite line uniquely her own: “Bongga!”

In another, she portrays a glamorous girl endorsing a phablet, big enough to type letters on touchscreen and conveniently small enough to slide in a purse. Prior to that, she, too, promoted a handset that sold like hotcakes. The former endorser of a major telecom brand is now also brand ambassador of its main competitor.

Aquino’s adography would probably list a number of product categories. Love her or hate her, the stats wouldn’t lie. She is the country’s undisputed top celebrity endorser.

You see the presidential sister morning and night on television. She is likewise omnipresent on outdoor advertising all over the metro. The “Queen of Talk” or “Queen of All Media” is now gliding her way to “Queen of Endorsements” grand slam title.

Kris was once dubbed as “Queen of Horror Movies” but is all set to reclaim the tiara when she sinks her acting fangs into the new sequel of “Feng Shui”, one of the country’s all-time blockbusters. Can she annex another crown? The “Queen of Box-Office” title is not farfetched.

Philippines’ top research company Nielsen, Starmometer, the total entertainment blog and StratPolls, a private national consulting firm specializing in quantitative and qualitative research-analysis, confirm Aquino’s number one ranking.

Last year, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Kris Aquino was the top celebrity endorser for 2011 and was also the No.1 taxpayer for the same year. She was the 6th biggest taxpayer for 2012 and remitted P49.87 million and P44.93 million in taxes for the same years, respectively.

In StratPolls 2013 survey, conducted among 500 respondents and included Inquirer’s above-mentioned report, Aquino once again topped the list. The Top 10 are as follows:

1. Kris Aquino 2. Vic Sotto 3. Anne Curtis 4-5. Sarah Geronimo, Coco Martin 6. Judy Ann Santos 7. John Lloyd Cruz 8-9. Kim Chiu 8-9. Richard Yap 10. Daniel Padilla

What makes Kris Aquino tick? Why do advertisers trust her? Why is she consistently on top? Here’s why marketers use celebrities to market their brands before Business Friday answers that.

One need not read marketing books to know that ads with celebrities easily get people’s attention. All things equal, an ad with a celebrity can make your brand more noticeable.

PR is also one of the most invaluable benefits advertisers get from celebrity endorsements. The celebrity becomes brand ambassador and with strong credibility, influence and positive attributes, he or she can induce saleability.

An endorsement makes brands real. It shows that brands exist. As people, especially the ‘masa’, are impressionable, they readily would want to identify with their favorite celebrities. Advertisers that are smart usually take this advantage, striking while the iron is hot, making hay while the sun brilliantly shines. Some literally hitch their wagons to star.

Business Friday randomly interviews students, marketing, communications and ad industry people on celebrity endorsement, why they think Kris Aquino is on a roll and her endorsement power. Here are some interesting insights:

Don Rapadas, PhD student, UP College of Mass Communication:

“The way it is done in the Philippines is largely influenced by a majority of the population that is star-struck. We love teleseryes as much as we love basketball and beauty pageants. We tend to believe celebrities because they are beautiful, famous, and because they ‘connect’ to us by the characters that they become, whether on or off screen.

It is this psychological ‘connection’ that advertisers and marketers exploit. After all, isn’t advertising all about persuasion? “I use this shampoo because Sarah Geronimo uses it or I prefer San Marino over Century Tuna because Kris Aquino likes it. Never mind that those commercials had bad copy or poor logic. The celebrity factor always sells to most of us.” On Kris Aquino: “Let’s give it to her - she can sell even the wind.”

Mila Marquez, ASC (Ad Standards Council) Executive Director:

“Kris Aquino has talk value. Even if she is polarizing (either you like her or hate her) people like to follow what she is up to.”

Elaine Mapa, Director for Operations,
Essential Philippines

“She is brutally frank, that makes her popular. She has balls to even share about her latest heartache even if it is so out of the rack but people watch her.”

Adee Caluag, Managing Partner, Crafty Pig Creative Services

“I think she continues to be a top celebrity endorser because of the market she caters to. C and D, in my opinion, see her as what they can be in another life.

She talks like them, dwelling on the same subjects: her love life, sex life, her sons, friends, etc. At the same time, she has what they don't have but wish they have like money, fame, etc. She functions as both a representative and an aspirational person for them.

I think what they trust is really her popularity and not her, per se. You ride on the coat tails of someone popular so that her fans will see you as her ally, thus theirs. Ad agencies get her because she's popular. She's always on the news, for better or worse.”

Ja Sioson, Industrial Design Graduate, Young Entrepreneur:

“Using celebrities is a good marketing strategy. They can strongly influence people because of their popularity. Since people idolize them, it is easy to win them over.”

Mercie Terana, former McCann and BBDO Art Director, now successful global exporter of Pinoy handcrafted items:

“She is very honest in so many ways. She tells all, to the extent that she could be tactless most of the time. The No.1 factor I think why people like her is the image of her parents. It makes her popular.”

Millions of money in talent fees, business deals, perks, more fame and accompanying fortune, so is it always a bed of roses for celebrity endorsers?

Not quite. Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Sharon Stone, Kate Moss, Michael Phelps, Zhang Ziyi, LeBron James and others lost big endorsement contracts when they got into scandals. That’s the gloomy side of using celebrities but it’s an entirely another story.