Friday, May 27, 2016


With Robert Kuan, founder of Chow King and former Chairman of St. Luke's Medical Center
at Philippine Marketing Association BEST Conference.

by Roger Pe
May 23, 2016 issue
Philippine Business Mirror
Full page

On 111-117 Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, London, sits Museum of Brands, the biggest collection of products that ever existed in the world, names that made millions of consumers happy. They are catalogued and exhibited, but quite sadly, most of them have already faded out of our consciousness.

Inside the museum is a kaleidoscope of iconic labels, featuring over 12,000 original items from the unique collection of consumer historian Robert Opie, the guy who assembled them all forover half a century.

Here, you will discover how well loved brands evolved through creative use of packaging and advertising, and how consumers evolved with them. History of consumer culture is also revealed, decade-by-decade in a ‘time tunnel’, from the Victorian era to today’s digital age.

Your brand may someday find its way here, depending on how well you lovingly nourish it. How is it doing lately?

Is it up and about and doing brisk sales at the supermarket or barely making it? How is market acceptance? How often do you have brand reviews across a category landscape?

Is the product just merely answering a need or doing more compared to competition? What interesting added-value does it give to consumers?

What about awareness? Are you seen or even heard? Do you make noise or just go with flow?

Is it showing signs of brand fatigue? Are there signs on the wall and tell-tale indicators of slowing down? Before sales dip any further, get your acts together and immediately have a brand check-up. Go back to the basic. Review product formulation and packaging, including the way you market it. We know for sure, that you wouldn’t want it to go the way that Kodak and Nokia did.

Strong brands today and gone tomorrow, will your brand have that zest to last in the market?

Yesterday’s brands

Many moons ago, your lola would shop with a list of grocery items in her purse. She would hie off to the market with a dab of Cashmere Bouquet on her cheeks. A spray of Freyssinet and perfume bought from Botica Boie would complete her retinue.

She went to Divisoria every Saturday. On her list were: Purico (for frying and other “ginisa” cooking), Camay (for your sister’s facial beauty regimen), Lifebuoy (for your kuya’s after-basketball shower), Darigold (for young kids), Breeze (for your labandera), Pancho Pantera (chocomilk for the unruly kids) and, when she’s overly generous, Glo-Co Lipstick (for the maids).

Once upon a time, other Filipino brands also created rhubarb in Escolta, Rizal Avenue, Azcarraga, even as far as the Philippines’ farthest towns. Esco, Elpo, Ang Tibay Shoes, Chelsea, SigaSiga, Bataan Matamis cigarettes, Radiowealth, Avegon Transistor radios, Three Flowers, Trocadero, Hour-After-Hour, Halo Shampoo were among them.

But where are they now? All gone. They are probably also languishing in Museum of Brands.

We asked Willy Arcilla, one of Philippines’ marketing experts to share his nuggets of wisdom on brands’ staying power and continually changing mashup of brand marketing operations.

As a most sought-after speaker on marketing issues, interviewing Arcilla is like striking gold. He has established a pattern and solid track record in revitalizing old and dated brands and turning around troubled and bleeding companies.

And with over 30 years of experience in marketing and sales, advertising and media, corporate planning and general management, Arcilla’s insights are must-listen to.

Here’s our Q&A with the marketing guru:

Why do brands die?
WA: “From a corporate perspective, a brand dies because of mismanagement. From a layman’s point of view and consumer’s perspective, a brand dies simply because it has lost its customers to competition, direct or indirect.

It boils down to bad marketing and leadership, the most common reasons for brand demise.Marketing encompasses all the 4Ps (Product-Price-Place-Promotion), so failure to assemble a winning bundle of the various elements of the marketing mix can lead to a weakening of the brands.

Like plants and trees, brands need to grow. To nourish them, marketers should feed their brands with relentless innovation and compelling communication campaigns that convince consumers to prefer their brand against competition.

This is premised on a strong and enduring connection or relationship between the client and his consumers. The long-term success of any business rests on the long-term loyalty of its people, which translates to long-term brand loyalty by its customers.

Locally, Bank of Philippine Islands, San Miguel, Shoemart, Mercury Drug, Jack and Jill, C2 Ready-To-Drink Tea, are just a few local brands that have endured the test of time.

Obviously, Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Samsung, Toyota, Disney, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are some of the most valuable global brands we have today. In addition, some brands have benefited immensely from universal and timeless advertising campaigns, like Singapore Airlines’ “Singapore Girl” (over 40 years), Mastercard“Priceless” and Absolute Vodka “Bottle” campaigns.

Can you tell if a brand is dying?

Arcilla says there are symptoms that one can see. “Despite all efforts at revival, you’re losing your sales revenue and market share in a secular downtrend,” he says.

What must marketers do to enjoy consumer preference?

WA: “First, continue to delight, satisfy even exceed the consumer’s needs and wants, tastes and preferences, likes and dislikes, values, attitudes and lifestyle, through your holistic brand experience. Next, capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing, both offline and online – so other consumers will learn more about the benefits of this brand versus competition. Digital word-of-mouth.

Is advertising a solution to dwindling market shares, 
why and why not?

WA: It is necessary but insufficient because the first step is to conduct a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the market that will place a finger on the pulse of consumers. This will then guide the development of a Brand Positioning Statement which must be the Best Positioning Strategy – Important, Specific, Unique. Then the BPS must give rise to Product-Packaging, Pricing, Place, Promotions, etc.

Advertising is the only item in the Profit and Loss that possesses the potential to expand sales by a hundredfold. Advertising communicates the brand and the benefit, the reason-to-believe and even the call-to-action.

Why should a Brand be healed?

WA: Looking back at my corporate career with three Fortune 500 multinational companies and three top Philippine conglomerates across Asia-Pacific, and my consultancy projects, I realized that I was most effective and productive, happiest and most fulfilled from helping revitalize ailing brands and turning around troubled companies.

Healing is holistic and means making something whole again. It also honors my family of doctors (there are 9 medical and health professionals in our family) - my parents, siblings and their spouses. I didn’t pursue medicine because I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, but I relished the sight of bleeding and troubled companies and sick, ailing even dying brands that I can help make stronger and healthier.

I guess that I must have subconsciously imbibed the discipline of medicine after decades of listening in on the medical conferences that would transpire among family members at our dinner table.“Health is Wealth” so my mission is to heal brands because “Healthier Brands are Wealthier Brands”.

What are some of brands that you have helped revitalize?

WA: At P&G, I was blessed to receive first-hand education on turning around a struggling Safeguard to become the market leader and I was part of the team that helped arrest the decline and turn around Tide Bar, one of the leading detergent brands.

In Indonesia, I led the relaunch and regeneration of the entire brand portfolio that helped treble the sales revenue in 6 years. In Hong Kong and China, I helped rejuvenate San Miguel, which was an old and dated brand, as well as local brands like Guang’s Pineapple Beer and Blue Star, a local brand in Northern China.

With San Miguel in the Philippines, I helped revive consumer interest in the beer market with the campaign “Five Thirsty Na” which sought to promote the “Happy Hour” after work while traffic is at a standstill – even back then (which suggests that the campaign may be even more relevant in today’s carmageddon. 

I helped launch the phenomenally successful San Mig Light. Then when I joined RFM we also relaunched major brands like Fiesta Spaghetti, Selecta Moo and Sunkist, and I’m happy and grateful to see that Fiesta has grown to become the country’s undisputed market leader in pasta from a tiny number 5 back in 2000.

When I returned to China with Coca-Cola, I was able to help rejuvenate a struggling Sprite to eventually become the leading softdrink brand in the world’s largest consumer market, even ahead of Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Then when I moved to URC, I helped resurrect a dead brand in C2 Ready-To-Drink Tea to become the leading RTD Tea brand in Vietnam and even surpass the sales revenues of C2 in the home country, the Philippines.

What makes you unique as marketing professional?

WA: Aside from my unique family background and my zeal for healing brands to make them stronger. My educational background: a mix of La Sallian and liberal education at the UP.

I hold a college degree in BS Business Administration, Major in Marketing from the UP Diliman, but I also earned, by virtue of a scholarship, a Masters of Science degree in Industrial Economics from the CRC, the economic think-tank of the University Of Asia and the Pacific.

This allowed me to form a world-view that can focus on an individual tree without losing sight of the entire forest, so I can appreciate the importance of macroeconomics for the world, the region and the country, as well as its influence on the microeconomics of the individual firm.

My experience with top 500 multinational companies, as well as Philippine conglomerates helped me strike a good balance between the values of western individualism with eastern collectivism.

My regional experience across Greater China (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan) and the ASEAN countries expanded my horizons and strengthened my understanding of various cultures and markets to identify and capitalize on similarities as well as recognize and respect differences.

All these helped me learn to strike the perfect balance between managing the pressures of the short-term like sales volume and revenue, profitability and cash flow with the potentials of the long-term like building brands, growing market share and even expanding market size.

The most important job of a CEO today is to exercise inspiring leadership to motivate his people and synergize the entire organization to become a real source of competitive advantage by being marketing-driven and customer-focused so consumers prefer our brands over competition. 

This is why I advocate the concept of Marketing Leadership because Marketing is what anyone must do, while Leadership is what anyone must have.

Have you written any books?

I have written two books on my two advocacies – Marketing and Leadership. I believe that Marketing is what anyone must do, while Leadership is what anyone must have.

The first is called “Marketing and Advertising with a Conscience” with a foreword from His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, where I argued that since “no one can serve two masters (Mt 6:25), then use mammon to serve God.”

The second is “Leadership is Discipleship”, where I suggest that “we don’t need better leaders, but better followers”, judging from the current state of global affairs despite all the billions or trillions of dollars spent on leadership development in private and public sectors, in schools and the workplace. In addition to these, I have been a regular contributor to leading dailies and trade publications.

As Speaker in PMA BEST Conference with PMA President Henry Tenedero and Director Elton Tan.
What can you offer the business sector and marketing practitioners?

I offer a unique workshop that is a 2-in-1 training-cum-consultancy called “The Marketing Clinic: One Day with the Brand Healer”. It combines several modules of classroom lectures followed by live consultancy sessions where we provide real answers to real questions; real solutions to real problems.

This is faithful to the original definition of a clinic, which meant to teach doctors at a patient’s bedside, and this is why it is very effective as a training and development program.

It is not only for marketing practitioners but indeed for the entire organization because as Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of any business is not to make a profit but to create a customer.” So in fact, we are all in Marketing.