'It's not fun in Switzerland' (or why new DOT slogan works)

by Judith Balea, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jan 10 2012 05:42 PM | Updated as of Jan 12 2012 12:15 AM

What makes it more fun in the Philippines? It's the people

(From left to right) Susan Calo Medina, Atty. Eugene Yap, Cesar Cruz, Ivan Henares. File Photo/Composite

MANILA, Philippines - Whether or not it's a rip-off of a six-decade-old Swiss tourism advertisement, we can always claim the slogan, "It's more fun in the Philippines," because it is true.

That's, at least, the take of local tourism stakeholders and some avid travelers on the brouhaha over the new promotional brand launched by the Department of Tourism (DOT) last Friday.

"Seriously, I really think it will work. Never mind all those negatives, there will always be negatives. They say it's copied from Switzerland. C'mon, Switzerland is a lot of things, but it's not fun. Fun is us," Susan Calo Medina, host of television show "Travel Time," told ANC's Talk Back with Tina Palma.

"You can be efficient in Switzerland, what else? You can be more technical in Switzerland, you can eat lots of chocolates in Switzerland, but you can't have fun in Switzerland the way you have fun in the Philippines," she added.

Tour operators, hoteliers and restaurant owners -- all of whom are vital in helping Philippine tourism boom -- agree on this.

"This is the slogan that the industry has been waiting for. After 'WOW Philippines,' we had no slogan for two years. This is a much welcome thing for industry stakeholders. It can easily be communicated, it's simple," said Cesar Cruz, president of the Philippine Tour Operators Association.

"This sentence is very catchy. And we believe in it. It now belongs to us," added Atty. Eugene Yap, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines.

Both Cruz and Yap said they have adopted the slogan in their own marketing campaigns and the move generated a lot of positive feedback.

"We have immediately adopted the campaign in our own website," Cruz noted.

Yap, for his part, shared, "We started putting collaterals in our own websites, our own blogs. We have gotten thousands of positive feedback already. We were all surprised."

Social networking

"It's more fun in the Philippines" was launched by the DOT last week, with high hopes it will help the country meet its target of attracting 10 million tourists by 2016.

As expected, it was met with both criticism and praise from the travel sector and the public.

But unlike the last DOT slogan, "Pilipinas Kay Ganda," which drew widespread flak for being an almost exact copy of a Polish tourism campaign, the new one seems to have a bigger chance of "sticking" and taking off, the industry stakeholders said.

What made its debut a success was the way it was launched: through social media.

"The buzz that the DOT created was really good. You could see the burst. We were trending worldwide when we launched that hash tag on Twitter. DOT won the opening salvo, at no cost," said tour blogger Ivan Henares.

Why it's true

Meanwhile, Cruz believes it will be easy for them to market the new slogan because they can back it up.

And his answer to the question -- what makes it more fun in the Philippines? It's the people.

"It's easy to say 'it's more fun in the Philippines' when you sell. Talk of the people first, then it goes on. Because when you talk of, let's say, nature... Thailand has it, Indonesia has it, Malaysia has it. What makes the Philippines different? It's the people."

More solid campaign

After the successful launch, Cruz said the DOT needs to craft a more solid campaign for the new tourism slogan.

Medina echoed Cruz's view, saying the slogan should be "owned" and promoted by everybody for it to work.

"No campaign was there long enough. And even this, unless it is supported, unless it's taken by everybody, owned by everybody, it will not work," Medina said. "For it to work, it has to be in all the brochures, it has to be in a lot of advertising abroad. It has to be seen everywhere."

While the social networking strategy is a good one, Cruz said the DOT should allocate large funding to further promote its new campaign.

"DOT Secretary (Ramon) Jimenez is on the right track, he made use of social networking. The social networking is just the initial salvo, it doesn't end there. You have to make a more solid campaign. You have to go to the tri-media, the international media -- CNN, BBC," he said.

Initial funding

DOT spokesperson Bong Bengzon, in a phone interview, said the DOT already allotted P500 million for marketing and promotion of the "It's more fun in the Philippines" slogan this year.

However, he said the budget does not yet include the major expenses such as advertisements.

"The P500 million will go to the participation of DOT in travel fairs, road shows, for example."

"When we finally execute the plan, we will have to spend for production of print, audio visual materials, development of the website and application of the concept in our travel division, etc."

"Eventually, we will have to spend also for the traditional media including TV, brochures, maps," he added.

At the moment, Bengzon said they are banking on the social networking sites to help spread the word around.

"We realized the Philippines is one of the wide users of Facebook and Twitter and we would like to use the 25 million or so network of Filipinos who are in the networking sites."