'Voters harder to fool with empty promises'

by Kathleen A. Martin, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jan 17 2013 11:22 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2013 07:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Aspiring politicians will need more than a catchy jingle and an empty promise to capture the hearts of Filipino masses, advertisers said.

Yoly Ong, group chairperson at Campaigns and Grey, said that based on various focus group discussions, Filipinos are more selective when voting for candidates.

"They (the masses) actually say, 'peke yan e,' because the promises are different from what the politicians actually do," Ong told ANC's Inside Business.

"In fact, I've come to the conclusion that it's harder to fool the masses today," Ong continued.

Ong is behind President Benigno Aquino III's successful campaign in 2010, and the brains behind the catchy "Pag walang corrupt, walang mahirap" slogan.

"They (Filipino voters) have very different behaviors toward candidates. For presidential candidates, they don't want the jingles. What they want to know is what the guy is going to do to improve their quality of life," Ong said.

A wall in Quezon City is plastered with campaign ads, in what voters say is premature campaigning. February 2010.
"But for the senatorial candidates, I guess it's more of remembering who to vote for because there's 12 people you need to choose," Ong noted.

Ong believes that for the national elections, the "air war" or the television and radio will be the primary venues for warring candidates. But local candidates such as congressmen and mayors will still need to battle it out "retail-elections" style, or going from house to house.

Consultant Greg Garcia concurs with Ong, but stressed the role of television in political campaigns has "dramatically" changed over the years.

"If you're not on TV, don't even think about running for national office because the penetration of TV is just fantastic," Garcia said.

"I always advise clients that 80% of their money should go into media, and 80% of that 80% should go to television. Television is the only way to communicate to as many people as you can in the shortest amount of time," he added.

Garcia is the man behind Vice President Jejomar Binay's successful 2010 bid. Garcia said Binay's narrative of "Ganito kami sa Makati, sana ganito din sa buong bayan" was the secret behind the vice president's win.

"The campaign for the vice president was really right on... and I think every candidate must have a narrative to win," Garcia said.

"It's not just about name recall, what's important is recalling the candidate's narrative," he stressed.