Sunday, November 28, 2010

A reaction to Yolly Ong's "Pilipinas, kay pangit." column or how not to defuse negative online buzz

Ms. Yolly Ong meets the online mob.
(Image source:

A lot of people are saying that Ms. Yolly Ong shouldn't have come out with a column which basically blasts everyone who reacted negatively to the proposed "Pilipinas kay ganda" PH tourism branding.

And you know what?  I think that's very easy to say and very hard to do.

Campaigns and Grey, having been identified as the agency tapped by the Department of Tourism to come up with re-branding concepts for the country, has been flayed in online media and traditional media.

Being the owner of Campaigns and Grey, most of the opinions and comments directed against the ad agency can hurt a lot.  Especially considering that Ms. Ong built up the company and led it to win acclaim in the 80's and 90's.

Not many can claim to know what it is like to see something you've worked so hard on get "massacred" in public.

Perhaps, given the same situation as Ms. Ong's, I think many would resort to the same tact that she used.  She'd go after her perceived attackers and try give them a dose of their own medicine.

Now, this is perhaps easier done with members of the traditional media or politicians, but quite difficult to do with a mob that publishes their views online.  

It is not uncommon for executives of advertising agencies to call up the editors and producers of traditional news media to let them know that they didn't like one news item or a commentary.  Normally what happens afterwards is that the traditional news media tones down its content or pulls follow-up stories completely.

Sure, you can probably target ones with the biggest followings or the ones with some level of credibility.  It can probably work if you do it right, but if you do it wrong, it'll be a whole another can of whoop-ass and the whole cycle begins again.

The thing is, she has had a run-in with one blogger in particular during the 2010 campaign.  

Professional Heckler apparently received a note from Ms. Ong and the note was delivered to him through columnist Billy Esposo -- a known Aquino die-hard and beneficiary. 

Here's that post from Professional Heckler:
In the interest of fairness, i am posting a letter sent by the head of Sen. Noynoy Aquino’s advertising campaign, Ms Yolly Ong of ad agency Campaigns and Grey re: my recent post titled “EVEN NOW.” It was sent through Philippine Star columnist William “Billy” Esposo, an online friend of The Professional Heckler.
Hi Billy,
Thanks for telling me about The Professional Heckler. I have followed some of his humorous columns but the recent one entitled “Even Now” which talks about Noy’s dip in survey ratings attributed a statement supposedly coming from me! To wit,
“The head of Noynoy Aquino’s advertising campaign, Yolanda Ong of ad agency Campaigns and Grey says because of the decline in Noynoy’s ratings, there will be major changes in his campaign strategy. It will start with the exclusion of Kris and Boy in brainstorming sessions.”
I know that his column is meant to be funny, but in this case it can really be misconstrued as a true quote from me to him specially since it followed from Erin’s comments to Media. And I take serious exception to this.
I would appreciate it very much if you could forward my email to the author with the request that he clarify that 1)I have never spoken to him or to anyone from media for that matter and 2) this is a joke ( hopefully, not something more sinister.)
Thanks a lot.
To the readers of this blog, nope, there was nothing sinister about that post. Kilala n’yo ako. I write about Villar and someone accuses me of being pro-Noynoy. I write something about Noynoy and some people accuse me of being pro-Villar. I write about Gibo’s “stolen” jingle and someone would tell me to just shut up if I couldn’t raise legitimate issues against their candidate. Before Chiz dropped his bid for the presidency last year, he was never in the news: WALANG ISYU tungkol sa kanya. A member of another presidential aspirant’s staff called and asked, “Bakit ‘di mo tinitira si Chiz? Siguro, maka-Chiz ka.” And then, Chiz abandoned his plans and I devoted several articles on that hot topic. [Despite that, he still greeted me on Christmas and New Year's Day.]
In short, lahat sila, nagiging paksa ng blog na ito. Pana-panahon nga lang.
Masarap magsulat kapag ‘di ka binabayaran ng isang tao o grupo ng mga tao. At lalong masarap magsulat kapag hindi ka nadidiktahan ng isang tao o grupo ng tao na may pansariling interes na isinusulong.
Ms Yolly Ong was correct. She didn’t talk to me. But I do believe that readers of this blog understood that the ‘Kris/Boy’ punchline was part of a joke.
By the way, I based that ‘Kris/Boy’ item on a recent Newsbreak report that said:
“The head of Aquino’s advertising campaign, Yolanda Ong of ad agency Campaigns and Grey, said the results were a wake-up call for changes in strategy.”
I just added a punchline.
Now, here’s the funny thing: the same day I posted that article, news reports said there would be “less of Kris and Boy” in Noynoy’s upcoming ads.
Thank you Ms Ong for “following some” of my “humorous columns.” I appreciate it. Btw, the campaign period is about to kick off. Good luck! 

Now, a lot of things can be implied from the way the message was delivered:
1. Ms. Ong shows that she KNOWS people like Billy Esposo.
2. Talking directly with Professional Heckler is BENEATH HER.
3. Ms. Ong is prepared to take legal action.
The result of Ms. Ong's letter to Mr. Esposo which was relayed to Mr. Heckler was about 116 comments and a shitload of traffic.  It sparked a whole new series of blogging frenzy and earned Ms. Ong the reputation of being 'pikon' and 'mayabang'.  It also got Mr. Heckler a certain amount of acclaim -- imagine getting a rise out of an icon in the advertising world and one of the heads of Noynoy's campaign to boot.

Now, this was a small thing in comparison to her column in the Philippine Star. where she basically published her low regard for the online community --- which includes just about everyone with a facebook account, twitter, and blog in the Philippings.

Instead of Ms. Ong just allowing her company to take the flak, as corporations are designed to do, Ms. Ong has painted a bulls eye on her forehead and made herself a target for every one online.

Right now, if you Google Yolly Ong, this is what you'll see:

This isn't at all that bad. Not yet anyway.

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