Pilipinas Kay Ganda: When re-branding goes bad


Posted at Nov 24 2010 11:49 AM | Updated as of Dec 03 2010 09:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines - What happens when a re-branding exercise goes horribly wrong?

According to Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, this is the tough lesson being learned by his department after its controversial "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" tourism slogan was rejected by stakeholders and even the President himself.

Lim said the snafu, which led to the resignation of Tourism Undersecretary Vicente "Enteng" Romano III, could be likened to the failed re-branding initiatives of American clothing company GAP and the United Kingdom fashion scene.

"Branding is a very, very sensitive exercise . Any brand that is launched and relaunched gets a lot of criticism. GAP tried to redo their logo and there were tins of criticisms on the Internet. Everyone was an expert. They liked the old brand even if it is stodgy," he told ANC's Headstart.

"The UK tried to rebrand from the stodgy 'Rule Britannia' image to a young, modern and hip 'Cool Brittania' but the public did not like it so they dropped it although marketing experts feel it was a good brand, a  good re-imaging of the country," he added.

Asked what he learned from the failed "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" campaign, Lim said launching a new brand should not be rushed and should undergo proper market testing.

"I told President Aquino: 'There are no shortcuts. Let's take our time (and) have a broad consultation. National branding is such a sensitive topic. Everybody owns a piece of the brand,'" he said.

P4.8-M preview

Lim admitted he made a mistake in allowing Romano to preview the "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" slogan to tourism stakeholders. He said he and President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III had apprehensions about the proposed slogan but still approved it for the initial preview.

"He convinced us we should go ahead even before a market research because this would only be a preview, a mechanism to get feedback from the public. I told Undersecretary Romano that it should only be a preview but I guess in his enthusiasm, it appeared like a launch to the public," Lim said.

The tourism chief said he approved P3.7 million for a special preview of the new tourism campaign a week before he went to the United Kingdom.  Romano later increased the amount to P4.8 million since the launch was done in 3D and was attended by 700 guests.

Lim said the DOT’s marketing project’s funding is only 5% compared to the budget being used by other countries.

He also said he should not be asked to resign from his post since Romano was given the full authority and autonomy for the government’s new effort to promote a new tourism branding. "I think the proper accountability has already been answered," he said.


Lim said the controversial "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" tourism campaign was a risk-taking initiative to entice tourists to learn Filipino words and unify all campaign slogans of the tourism department.

“Romano wanted to make people really curious and learn our language. If people learn ‘kay ganda,’ if US President Barack Obama would ask PNoy and say ‘kay ganda,’ wouldn’t that be a triumph? That would be something great, like a household word -- sayonara, aloha,” he said.

He said that was also the reason why the Tagalog words "Kay Ganda" had the translation "So Beautiful."

Lim likened the slogan to other recognizable tourism slogans such as “Malaysia, Truly Asia” and “Amazing Thailand." He said using Tagalog words for the Philippines' tourism campaign would set it apart from the others.

Unifying theme

Pilipinas Kay Ganda: When re-branding goes bad 1Lim said "Pilipinas kay Ganda" was designed to be a unifying slogan for the tourism department. He said his predecessor, Ace Durano, allowed the use of different slogans to promote the Philippines in different countries.

He said that in Japan, the slogan is “Philippines Premium Resorts Islands,” in Korea “7,107 More Than You Can Imagine”, in Australia “The Philippines So Much, So Near” and in the UK “The Philippines: Culture, Adventure, Nature.”

The "WOW Philippines" slogan is only used to promote domestic tourism, he added.

“So what Enteng was trying to do was to unify the brand,” Lim said.

"Kay Ganda" came from Cayabyab song

Lim admitted that the words “Kay Ganda” were taken from the song “Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika" by Philippine musician Ryan Cayabyab.

He said that before the DOT came out with the slogan, they approached Cayabyab and asked for his permission to use the words “Kay Ganda.”

He admitted that the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” look was somehow copied from the Polish tourism logo “Polska.” He, however, denied that it was plagiarized. -- by David Dizon, Angelo Gutierrez, abs-cbnNEWS.com