Miguel Matugas
Mar 23, 2017

Open-hearted consumers characterise Philippines

An evolving receptiveness to emotions and real-life stories is an opportunity for brands in the Philippines.

Miguel Matugas
Miguel Matugas

Emotional advertising is certainly nothing new in Asia—think primetime soap opera-like Thai advertisements and the variety of slapstick comedy ads across the region. This is even less of a new thing in the Philippines, where citizens have been recognised by Gallup’s 2016 Global Emotions Report as the most emotional people in the world. This certainly does explain the historical appeal of advertising that connects emotionally, but what is interesting now is the way the advertising landscape is changing in terms of the variety of emotions and nuances in storytelling and execution.

When you think of the typical emotional advertisement in the Philippines, you think of popular celebrity endorsers, a less than subtle role of product, a key emotional theme, mostly romance or family, and usually a positive resolution. Some of my favourite examples are the ads McDonald’s has run in the Philippines over the past two years featuring the widely popular television "love team" of Aldub (Alden Richards and Yaya Dub aka Maine Mendoza). Playing on the success of Aldub’s dubsmash-gimmick, McDonald’s produced a series of ads that felt very much like an extension of the celebrities' in-show musical romance.

In contrast, the most recent success in emotional Filipino advertising (or 'EFM', if you will) has left netizens in a state of sad shock, but also thrilling amazement. The Valentine’s Day campaign from local fast-food brand Jollibee was released on Facebook as an extension of previous ‘Kwentong Jollibee’ (Jollibee stories) marketing efforts, inspired by true stories, with a more unconventional take on celebrating the joy of love.

The three videos entitled Vow, Crush, and Date portrayed commonly used hopelessly romantic themes like loving and letting go, leaving notes (and hamburgers) to pursue the affections of a school crush, and a surprisingly gut wrenching Valentine’s date with a loved one.

This article is part of the Cultural Radar series

But the most notable thing about these videos is that they managed to take these somewhat conventional romantic themes and reproduce them to tell stories that were shockingly real, relatable in day-to-day life, and emotional in a way only most Filipinos would actually connect with. As these themes are already recognised as something very Filipino the brand was able to really focus on the raw emotion and storytelling in the campaign.

While we have yet to see how this will eventually translate to business success, we at least know that each Facebook video had between 10 million and 13 million views, hundreds of thousands of shares and hundreds of thousands of comments within a mere four days since they launched. That’s a lot of (potentially teary) eyes.

For marketers, this highlights a massive opportunity to rethink the way we advertise and tell stories in the Philippines—not only channel-wise, but also in terms of the depth and nuances in emotion, themes, and messaging.

Certainly there is something to be said about an emerging shift in appeal from happy endings and celebrity endorsers to more varied, unconventional and sometimes emotionally heart-wrenching resolutions, to more realistic day-to-day stories. This opens up a whole new world of interesting avenues and creative challenges for Filipino brands to explore.

Miguel Matugas is senior research executive with Flamingo Singapore

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