Emily Tan
Jun 17, 2014

Philippines does best when it embraces its problems: Merlee Jayme

CANNES - The biggest impediment to winning awards for the Philippines has been its inability to match the production budgets of the rest of the world, but it has since learnt to direct its creativity to an arena where it can play on even ground, according to Merlee Jayme, chairman and COO of DDB DM9 JaymeSyfu.

Merlee Jayme
Merlee Jayme

See all of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Cannes coverage here, and visit Campaign@Cannes for round-the-clock festival coverage by our entire international team.

Sitting down with Campaign Asia-Pacific in Cannes, Jayme pointed out that a developing market like the Philippines hasn't got the funds to match the equipment or talent of markets like Europe or the US. “So the burden of success lies in the thinking of the idea," she said. "Because we're poor our ideas stem from finding clever solutions for our lack of budget.”

The best campaigns happen when clever and pocket-friendly executions are combined with ideas that help disadvantaged Filipinos, said Jayme. “This year, I believe Pampers Radio (by Ace Saatchi & Saatchi) will do well in its category because it answers a real need while at the same time being very clever about expenditure.”

Like many post-colonial countries, the Philippines has had a bit of an identity crisis. “We're a bit Spanish and a bit American," Jayme said. "We don't have a spectacularly different look and feel... unless we go back to our roots and push that.”

Last year, DDB DM9 JaymeSyfu's earned the country its first Grand Prix, in the mobile category, for its TXTBKS campaign. “The secret was that it was a genuine campaign that answered a real need," Jayme said. "We didn't do it for awards but to solve a problem back home. Plus, I was told the rawness of our case-study video added to the authenticity. The truth is though, we just didn't have the money to do better!”

Since the campaign, which is now being rolled out in South Africa with talks to launch it in India, Jayme has seen greater interest from clients in creating campaigns with roots in CSR. “It's great because we have the resources and it's nice to work on a project that's a real help for humanity rather than pour hours of work into a campaign that once its down, evaporates,” she said.

Confidence levels in the Filipino ad industry are also on the rise, Jayme added. “We're learning that when we tackle our problems up front, rather than try to hide them, we do a better job."


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