Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fail

What comes to mind when you read or hear the following? "When you care enough to send the very best." "Ikaw lamang, wala ng iba." "Just do it." "Finger lickin' good." "Langhap sarap." "Connecting people." Or fill in the blanks: "Have a break, have a ___," "Come to where the flavor is, come to ___." "The united colors of ____."

While my 13-year old son didn't get everything, he got most of it. My wife got them all. The first one's been Hallmark's slogan for, like, forever. It makes sense, it makes you do a head tilt and go, awww. So does Johnson & Johnson's vow of fidelity. Nike's command makes you want to go buy a pair and sweat it out or conquer the world. While KFC's promise hits it just right. The aroma of MSG-laden fastfood makes you salivate every time you pass by a Jollibee, which currently means practically at every turn in Baguio's Central Business District. you send a text or answer a call and you know Nokia does connect people. A lot of us have even found ways to quote Kitkat's, Marlboro's and Benetton's slogans in casual conversation.

They're clever, witty even, they stick, they make sense.

I received a lot of reactions when I posted, as my status on Facebook, my thoughts about "It's more fun in the Philippines," the new tourism slogan of Department of Tourism developed by the advertising agency which got the contract, BBDO Guerrero. Basically, I personally don't like it. It's not amusing, it doesn't stick, it doesn't inspire. When I read it, I didn't purse my lips, bob my head up and down, and go, "nice."



And I don't totally agree with the claim. That's why the Indians didn't say it's more fun in India, because that's not entirely true. Instead they simply said, "Incredible India," and it makes one go, "oo nga naman." The Malaysians told the world that Malaysia is truly Asia, and think about it, this melting pot of various Asian cultures of a country is indeed truly Asia. Angola's syncopated, un-rhyming music video erases memories of a civil war-ravaged country and instead conjures images of a people determined to rise above their beautiful country's past, and I believed.

It is true that ours are among the most beautiful beaches in the world, our culture among the most diverse (drive a couple of hours to anywhere in any direction from anywhere in the country and they speak a different dialect or language there already), there are 7,107 possibilities for a wonderful visit to the Philippines - we have beautiful mountain ranges, we still have some rain forests left, a lot of places that paint a beautiful picture of our colonial past, unique world-class products from textile to sculptures to jewelry to food, etcetera, etcetera. See, my problem with "It's more fun in the Philippines," is it's too general you don't know what it means exactly, too bold a claim that is hard to accept at face value specially for outsiders who've only been hearing about rampant corruption, extra-judicial killings, let's not even go that far - one of the worst airports in the world.

But they did say that there will be lots of publicity gimmicks and other PR efforts that will be done to "prove" the slogan's point. But that's exactly my point - a slogan must be self-explanatory, must not need extra effort to "prove it" for if it does, as netizens say, FAIL.



And then we learn that it's an exact copy of Switzerland's tourism slogan in the 50's. I'll forgive bureaucrats for pulling off something like that, but an established, professional advertising agency? They can't simply shrug and say, "we didn't know." That's just impossible. You belong to an industry that is supposed to have creativity/originality as its main output, you make sure your output is creative and original. "It's more fun in the Philippines" is neither. And this coming at the heels of the "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" logo turning out to be a plagiarized version of Poland's CURRENT tourism logo? Or maybe the BBDO Guerrero group didn't think anybody would find out about the Swiss tourism campaign of half a century ago - just like the lazy student who thought nobody would find out that he copied his book report verbatim from an article that appeared in page 12 of his Google search.

No, "It's more fun in the Philippines" just doesn't cut it. Just like the Baguio tags, "Cleanest and Greenest" (at a time when Baguio was being covered in concrete), "City of Pines" (then big businesses go ahead and cut down beautiful pine trees with impunity), "Character City" (some said it's more like City of Characters), "Beautiful Baguio" (at a time when we had a garbage crisis), didn't.

*my column in the January 8, 2012 issue of Cordillera Today

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