Racheal Lee
Jan 17, 2014

Filipinos expect brands to bring positive change after Yolanda

MANILA - Typhoon Yolanda represents an opportunity for brands to engage with people and contribute to society. More to the point, 96 per cent of the population expects nothing less, according to a McCann Worldgroup report.

Filipinos expect brands to bring positive change after Yolanda

The Philippines’ Post-Yolanda Consumer Sentiment Survey revealed that 96 per cent of Filipinos aged 21 and above expect brands and private companies to play an effective role in recovery from the effects of the typhoon.

This puts brands alongside global organisations (97 per cent) such as the United Nations, the Red Cross, and the World Health Organisation, as well as the international community (97 per cent), as “effective” contributors to recovery efforts in the coming years.

Raul M. Castro, chairman and chief creative officer at McCann Worldgroup Philippines, noted in the research that brands are no longer just symbols of quality, of prestige or of differentiation. 

“They have evolved to become catalysts of and engines for positive change,” he said. “Filipinos now expect brands to play a more active role in the betterment of the lives, not just of the survivors of the typhoon but of society at large.”

Companies should sync up their CSR campaigns with relief efforts in times of national disaster. According to Gavin Foo, managing director at Cohn & Wolfe, brands can start by giving employees flexibility to take time off should they want to volunteer, or scaling up their efforts to provide goods and expertise that make a measurable impact on relief efforts.

“Cohn & Wolfe, for example, sets aside a portion of our billable time for pro bono work to charity organisations,” he said. “On the back of the recent disaster in the Philippines, we refocused and extended our CSR efforts to help build the brand awareness and fundraising capabilities of Mercy Relief, a Singapore-based NGO focused on providing timely and effective assistance to disaster-stricken communities and sustainable development programmes in Asia.”

An initiative of McCann Truth Central, the research involved 500 respondents aged 21 and above from the Metro Manila Area, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, in early December.

According to 75 per cent of the respondents, brands should “inspire others to continue helping”, showing the need for continued involvement as the country rebuilds. Some 73 per cent of respondents expect brands to “actively cooperate in the Philippines’ recovery”.

The research also said brands should “be more environmentally friendly” (75 per cent of respondents), as well as supportive of climate change initiatives in the Philippines and globally (70 per cent).

Gino Borromeo, vice president and chief strategy officer of McCann Worldgroup Philippines, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the efforts can include rebuilding, mobilising people to help, and providing emotional support and uplift to help people find strength to continue.

“Brands whose product or services are essential to rebuilding have been quite active in aligning their marketing with rebuilding efforts,” he said.

Media networks ABS and GMA, for example, align themselves with the message that news and information is their key service. Telco brands Smart and Globe, meanwhile, focus on the importance of communication after the disaster strikes.

Brand can also tap into "consumer sentiments that have been heightened after Yolanda", he said, citing McDonald's new 'Hooray for today' campaign'.

Leigh Reyes, president & CCO of Lowe Philippines, said many brands are now involved in the rebuilding through campaigns and sponsorships. Coca-Cola Philippines, she noted, is running a #RebuildPH campaign in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.

“Brands and companies like Smart, Bench and NutriAsia sponsored Voices for Visayas, a benefit concert with proceeds going to the Philippine Disaster Relief Foundation,” she added.

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