Sunday, December 4, 2016


by Roger Pe
Business Mirror
Headline, December 4, 2016

A good product will sell by itself through sheer word-of-mouth. An even greater one, reinforced by great advertising, channeled strategically, as in “The Art Of War”, through innovative media is a winning combination.

A kick-ass product delivers an unmet need experientially, unforgettably. The market feels it, the core target experiences it, and almost everyone feels the love down to his spine.

An awesome product makes a promise that cannot be disputed. Aspirational or transformational, it lives up to what it is claiming in the marketplace. A truthful product does not overpromise because when it does, it easily loses its presence in the consumer’s radar.

An excellent product is not a clone of its competitor. It stands out and packs a wallop by delivering very relevant benefits. It is a product of long research and market study probing into the consumer’s wants and needs.

A great product does not lose its appeal to its audience. It continues to be desirable even in a sea of multiple brands in its category. It continues to innovate and improves its value to millions of consumers. When you have these, you also get these: Top-of-mind awareness, preference and enduring loyalty.

Having said that, it pays to check if the product is ready to take the advertising plunge. Have you done your homework, taken the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis? Did you scrutinize the competitive landscape?

If you have, then you are ripe. Like thousands of other brands that had been launched, you are ready to conquer the market. But it is not easy: You have to make your creative execution stand out. Don’t say what has already been said. Be refreshing. Use a slogan to boost brand retention and never be afraid to change it when market environment changes (Coke, the world’s most famous brand changed its slogan 46 times from 1896 to 2016).

But do know one important thing: Advertising cannot mask a product flaw. It will be uncovered. No amount of gimmickry, even digital razzle-dazzle can fool a smart consumer. As Bill Bernbach says, “No amount of advertising can sell a bad product. It will only hasten its demise.”

Inspite of advancement in technology, some marketers think advertising will do all the work for them. They concoct catchy lines, expecting them to deliver the results. They do not realize that advertising is just one aspect of the whole marketing mix.

“It is not mere sloganeering that sells a product. At the end of the day, it goes back to what you are selling. Something that is relevant and beneficial to the consumer, and how truthful you say it,” a prominent marketing man says.

Savvy marketer

A great marketer starts on the inside developing his product and works his way out to capture insights relevant to his consumers. He begins with his product and perfects it before making noise in the media universe.

Nowadays, we see a great deal of advertising that is much better developed than the product itself, a sad scenario that has put many reckless marketers out of business. We see advertisers that are more excited in developing their slogans rather than improving the product they are selling.

Here are a few of the biggest slogan mistakes in the history of international marketing as compiled by Mike Fromowitz, a long-time Asia-Pacific adman, a friend and currently Chief Creative Officer of Ethnicity Multicultural Marketing in Toronto:

Electrolux. A memorable Swedish campaign in the 1960s claiming 'Nothing sucks like an Electrolux'.
Pepsi. Pepsi's 'Come alive with the Pepsi Generation' in Taiwan meant 'Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead'.
KFC. The finger-licking good' slogan meant 'Eat your fingers off' in China.

Schweppes. It meant 'Toilet Water' in Italy, making its popularity in the country to dive.

Mercedes Benz. Launched under brand name 'Bensi' in China was a bad call as the name meant 'rush to die'.

Ford. Ford didn’t realize that 'Pinto', meant 'tiny male genitals' in Portuguese when it launched the brand in Brazil.

Parker. In Mexico, Parker Pens promise 'not to leak in your pocket and impregnate you'.

Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called “Cue”, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

In his “Book of Brand Blunders, author Robert Gray says, “Slogans that do not help the market understand what companies do or what makes them unique are largely ineffective and they can cause prospective buyers not to trust the company. Once trust is gone, sales and profits spiral downwards. The bottom line is, meaningless slogans are like a virus that is undermining the world of marketing.”

A slogan alone cannot sell a product, a service or a destination. In the Philippines, we refuse to change a slogan for tourism because it has won awards overseas. We keep a blind eye on real effectivity results done by a reputable research organization.

According to a study made by AGB Nielsen among foreign tourists from March to April this year, majority of the respondents liked the slogan “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” but only a few were interested to visit the country.

The study noted that 65 percent of European respondents liked the campaign but only 26 percent had the intent to visit the Philippines. Likewise, 72 percent of North American respondents liked the slogan but only 45 percent wanted to visit the country.

While 67 percent of respondents from Japan, Saudi Arabia, India and Australia thought the campaign was good, only 40 percent had plans to see the Philippines. In Southeast Asia, 59 percent of the respondents liked the campaign but only 36 percent wished to come to the country.

Is it time to create a more focused, better positioning, less generic and original slogan? Some people say yes. At the end of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term, our tourist arrival number was 3,520,471 million. At the end of Benigno Aquino’s term over a six-year period, it jumped to 5,600,000 million, or an increase of 65%. Some say, the increase could have been bigger because DOT had a budget much bigger than the previous administration.
 Tourism slogans worldwide

There are many memorable slogans that have built great brands all over the world. A number of them still stick but a few proved disastrous to advertisers.

The iconic "I Heart New York", seduced millions to the city that never sleeps and kept hundreds of NYC T-shirt vendors in business for the past 30 years. In a recent article published by Time Magazine, it said that others were not so effective. Andalucia’s "There’s Only One" and New South Wales’ "There’s No Place Like It", could both be “easily applied to Changi Prison or a toxic rubbish dump in Nigeria.”

Tourism Australia had the infamous "Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" campaign. It garnered a lot of publicity but was banned in England.

“The problem with many slogans is that regardless of whether they strike a chord or not, they’re not always accurate when describing the destination they’re promoting. Some bend the truth a little, while others just blatantly lie about their destination to get you to come,” Time said.

The magazine also cited London’s “See the world. Visit London” slogan. While it meant a city with cultural diversity and you can rub shoulders with people from all around the world, the problem is, “it is expensive and costs as much as travelling to some countries in the world.”

On France’s “Rendezvous en France”, Time said: “The problem with this is that if you don’t understand French, you’re not going to go. Worse still, the prospective tourist might think "rendezvous" is some kind of communicable disease, which is rampant in France and choose to go to Italy instead,” it said.

A few Asian countries seemed to have followed a two-word template: “Amazing Thailand”, “Incredible India”, “Wonderful Indonesia”, “Truly Asia”, “Your Singapore”. We could have belonged to the club had we stuck to “Wow, Philippines”.

Wait, the Top 5 most visited countries in the world don’t even flaunt their slogans. So when was the last time we saw commercials for Brand France, China, US, Spain? Nobody even remembers their current slogans nor people even care if they have one at all. Don’t we only remember beautiful experiences and memories?

To drive tourist traffic, US cities regularly create new logos, slogans and marketing campaigns. Time said, however, “Locals tend to view the efforts largely as nonsense, or worse, a big waste of taxpayers’ dollars.”

It cited the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, which unveiled a new slogan for state tourism marketing, “Honest to Goodness Indiana” which was replacing the previous slogan, “Restart Your Engines.” It responded to criticism that the new “slogan doesn’t have anything to do with travel or tourism and reinforces stereotypes of Indiana residents as “unsophisticated bumpkins.”

It also highlighted the insights of tourism and community development expert Roger Brooks, who had said that people don’t decide to go somewhere just because of a slogan. “Do you go to Disneyland or Disney World because their slogan is ‘The Happiest Place on Earth?’ Of course not, we go there because of our perception of it,” he said.

Time also mentioned Colorado’s newly launched slogan (“It’s Our Nature”) and published a comment made by professor at a university: “It looks like something my students could have put together in five minutes. It’s very weak and has non-creative effort.”

Slogans come and go. Some will resonate and be successful, some will be remembered and some will be forgettable or worse, bashed. We asked some people about their comments on how to make the Philippines more attractive to foreign tourists. Here they are:

Suzette Defensor, Creative Director and Consultant for Expat Magazine: “Different tourists, different strokes. Backpapckers and beachbuds are ok with reasonably equipped lodgings. Upscale tourists are more demanding and exacting. The latter have purchasing power, including Chinese and Japanese, who come here for the casinos and golf. A tagline is just a tagline, DOT can splurge on roadshows but effect will not be significant if the basics are not in place. Peace and order, Internet, transportation problems should be addressed. We need to focus and own a specific
advertising proposition, “yung atin lang talaga, like Singapore girl of the airline, which became a symbol of the country. Bring back Manila International Airport. The world knows Manila. Sell the place, not a person the world is not familiar with.

Adrian Williams, Filipino-British entrepreneur: “Our infrastructure is not great. Efficiency and clarity needs to be improved to help people get around easily. We need to agree on and implement a global set of Filipino brand principles. We don't have one. We have everything China, Thailand, Japan have, yet we Americanize everything.”

Toti Soliongco, Veteran advertising man, Professor of Advertising at University of Asia-Pacific: “But for the attraction part, in a way, we are coming from a negative space- brought about by negative reports around the world about the issue of extra judicial killings, and all. This is something that may have to be neutralized. Take the conversation away from our political figures. That's why I think it needs to go back on a "charm offensive"- highlight the Filipino's natural asset, and that is hospitality.

Tell the world that we are sincerely desiring their presence. Pinoys are known as good people, people who care a lot, (that's why domestic helpers all over the world are known as indispensable members of their households). Bring the communication back to honest to goodness, sincere "come and visit us".

Feature our young people, young, good, people. I think we need a whole lot of "good citizenship" programs for all. Go back to reinforcing virtues and values among our people, the culture of self entitlement is such that it has affected all sectors of society. We need a strong campaign for this. It’s easier said than done. But I think people need to start seeing and believing that we have become a flawed and bad society in many aspects. We need to address this, and the private sector has to take the lead.”