Friday, November 19, 2010

Tourism Congress' position on "Pilipinas, kay ganda."

(What follows is an excerpt of the Tourism Congress position on the re-branding of Philippine tourism.  The TOURISM CONGRESS was created through Republic Act No. 9593 – An Act Declaring A National Policy for Tourism as an Engine of Investment, Employment, Growth and National Development, and Strengthening the Department of Tourism and its Attached Agencies to Effectively and Efficiently Implement that Policy and Appropriating Funds Therefor 

Under Chapter VIII Section 104 entitled The Tourism Congress, the law provides that “Within thirty (30) days from the publication of the implementing rules and regulations of this Act, the Secretary shall convene a Tourism Congress of representatives of all accredited tourism enterprises and former government officials involved in the tourism industry to serve as the private sector consultative body toassist the government in the development, implementation and coordination of Philippine tourism policy)

The explanation of the DOT Secretary of the rationale behind the move to re-brand and what he articulated in his speech are the best arguments against the branding strategy the DOT adopted.

1. "It is the result of intensive market research and a rigorous branding process done by one of the large agencies in the country. And I think it is a compelling brand,both in form and substance. But I must quickly add that it is not complete, in the sense that we have yet to develop the campaigns. Nor is it final. We still have todo market testing and FGDs to refine the brand. At best, it is a work in progress. 

He assured the audience that the choice was the result of serious technicalresearch and analysis by an unnamed top-notch advertising consultant andagency whose identity he did not disclose. Why was that ‘serious technicalresearch and analysis’ not made accessible to stakeholders for the bettereducation of all the sectors concerned? Was this because the launching wasanother example of form over substance? If not, where is the substance, andwhy is it so important to play up the form now? If the “new brand” is not yet it, because it is still a “work in progress”, why all the fuss and the promo launching now? 

If the purpose is to engage the public in the process of completing it, are there other more appropriate or effective ways or fora to engage and elicit substantive contributions to the common effort? Would the “new brand” been better appreciated if the audience had had a clearer idea of what the new program is supposed to be? Isn’t a brand supposed to sell that program? If there is such a program, where is it?

2. The brand you are about to see is relevant, distinctive and believable. It extols our innermost beauty, and not just of our destinations, but also of our people andeverything else that we do. It is something that we can distinctively claim, and every foreigner who has visited our shores will attest to it. It is also relevant and appealing to a market constantly searching for a more beautiful place and experience. 

Many believe that up to now, the “Wow! Philippines” continues to wow the market. Brands today are increasingly being defined by the consumers and that means that not because we claim it, it becomes ours.

Was there an effort to seriously review and assess the “Wow! Philippines” brand and determine whether it is, indeed, a mere “clutter” of words and whether ithas outlived its usefulness as a national brand? Tom Buncle, the author of many articles on successful branding offers this useful advice “Sometimes it takes courage and humility – otherwise known as customer research – to recognize what you’ve got, why people like it, and what it means to them.”

3. Why fix it when it ain’t broke? And this question, albeit taken out of context, we most resoundingly agree with. 

The next few excerpts from the Secretary’s speech we hope DOT will take to heart.

4. Finally, let me just say that a brand, by itself – no matter how solid the concept is,no matter how stunning the visuals are and how compelling the slogan is, nomatter how big the budget is – cannot guarantee success. … In the end, it is the faith and trust in the brand of the various stakeholders that can make or break a brand.

5. I can tell you with conviction that if you cannot convince 50 other people in this room who brought along their own brand ideas, that yours is the best brand, it has absolutely no chance of succeeding

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