It’s more fun in the Philippines

Vacation’s over, and I’m back in Amsterdam!
Marlon welcomed me home with so much love—a handwritten sign at the airport, a sparkling home filled with flowers, and a piping hot lentil soup. As we were catching up over dinner, he asked me if I had seen the new campaign launched by the Department of Tourism last Friday (while I was on the plane). “You have to see it,” he said, excited. “It’s so good. I want a t-shirt!” After seeing the new tagline, I had to agree with him—and with the concept behind the campaign. 
Why do I love it? First, the idea behind it is simple and true. It is more fun in the Philippines. It’s why I went home for three weeks instead of staying here to travel around during my first Christmas in Europe. It has that ring of truth that gives good concepts a chance to actually make it out there.

“What differentiates the Philippines from every [other place] in the world… is the Filipino. [It's] his special gift for transforming what is already a beautiful place into an unforgettable special place,” Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez said. “You take two identical islands, put Filipinos in one, it’s going to be more fun there.”

I completely agree. That other island will also be more chaotic, true, but it will definitely be more fun. We may not be able to do some things well (like, oh… enforcing bus lanes har har har) but we do know how to have a good time—in both the best and the worst of circumstances. 

Second, I like the concept of sharing the work of tourism with millions of Filipinos all over the world via social media. It’s never been done. That 10-year old WOW Philippines corporate video on Youtube with a paltry 253,000 views? It doesn’t count in a world where a sneezing panda can get the attention of 127 million people. So I think this first attempt to play by 21st century rules is an important, and valiant one. 

[Jimenez] described the new international slogan as “so deceptively simple” that traditional advertising and marketing people may find the new tag line “a little strange because it is a thought almost drawn from social media…. In a very real sense, it is a very modern 21st century kind of campaign. But it’s something Filipinos immediately can get behind, because it’s true.”

The naysayers who think PhP 5.6 million, or approximately US$ 126,900, is a lot of money for an international media campaign (the advertising agency doesn’t just come up with a slogan, people!) have no idea what they’re talking about—they need to see the rate cards for placements on TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising, and do the math. 
The social media effect is a multiplier that does the work our government can’t afford to do. So a concept that makes it easy—and yes, fun—for Filipinos to “take hold of it and make it their own”, that sparks our own creativity and humor, is genius. I’m a writer, but I know when something needs more than just writing (or “slogan making” in barangay and high school parlance). So I can also see that more than just writing is what is at work here.
It’s a campaign not simply to be impressed by, but to get behind. And that’s been missing from previous campaigns, even WOW Philippines, which has become the yardstick by which we Filipinos measure our tourism campaigns. As the Professional Heckler says: just like Anna Dizon, WOW Philippines is WOW Philippines… but what could I, personally, have done with it? 
Not much. I always root for foreign friends to visit the Philippines, and I put effort into it. I’ve been known to send friends emails detailing fares, itineraries, hotel, restaurant and even wedding planning suggestions. But never has something like WOW Philippines figured in any of that. What was I supposed to do, sign my emails with “WOW Philippines”?
But this… well, this is different. It made me immediately think of things that, to me, are more fun in the Philippines. It made me think of jokes to crack and images to use. It made me finally install Photoshop, which I’ve been telling myself I would do for the last four months. And it made me simply get behind it.
It was easy, and it was fun. In fact it was so easy and fun that I made 10 more of these with my own original photos. But that’s for another post!
All images courtesy of Chuvaness, except the last, which is mine. For more on the campaign, click here. Also, insightful reads on the campaign here, here and here. Finally, a helpful how-to for your very own “More Fun In The Philippines” meme here.
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