Stupidity, Favoritism or Lack of Marketing Know-How?

A Wrong Change in Philippine Tourism Campaign Slogan

I do not understand what is going on in the minds of Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, Jr. and his tourism team led by Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim when they decided to change the title of the Philippines' tourism campaign from "WOW Philippines" to "Pilipinas Kay Ganda".

Sure, times change, places change, situations change. The Philippines has changed. And with that change, perhaps the time has come for the change of the slogan for the Philippine tourism campaign. Maybe they are right in choosing to change the slogan. After all, the old campaign had long been in place and, while its fruits have been good, more could be done to bring tourists into the country. In a way, they are probably right: the Philippines needs to change the way it attracts tourists into its hospitable destinations.

What I find intriguing is the title of the campaign they had chosen.  There are three points I would like to raise here:

First, I would like to know how they intend to attract foreign tourists to the Philippines using a language they do not know.  With this in mind, I find my appreciation for the slogan used when Gordon was DOT Secretary.  Afterall, "wow" is such a word that is widely used in different languages.  Somehow, the tourism team back then was able to take advantage of how English worked as an international language.  I also appreciated the brevity of the old slogan:  "WOW Philippines" only has four syllables while "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" has seven.

Second, I wonder why the title of the new campaign slogan sounds like the name of a morning television show in the network where the President's younger sister is a part of.  By using the title "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" for the new tourism campaign, the President himself and his tourism team helps the campaign of ABS-CBN in the use of "Umagang Kay Ganda" as a greeting, which isn't really bad, but which somehow could be considered as a bias favoring the network where her sister works.

Third, with the August 23 hostage fiasco, and the recent travel advisories against the Philippines, the country is viewed as an unsafe tourist destination.  If any, a tourism campaign should try to change that image of the country.  After all, I would not think of seeing something beautiful if my life is the one that is on the line.

Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe tourists nowadays are attracted more to campaigns bearing words form the local language.  Maybe tourists will appreciate how good the Filipino language sounds.  Maybe the slogan has no relation with ABS-CBN which the foreigners do not watch after all.  Maybe if we flood the tourists with information on how beautiful the country is, if we are able to overload their minds with other pieces of information, we can make them forget of the security issues other countries have with ours.

Or maybe the campaign is directed to the local market.  Domestic tourism, they used to say.  If that is the case, I daresay we're back to issue number two, against channel two.  Soon, we might see him using this as a reason for employing holiday economics, much like his predecessor, with the exemption of two celebrations:  Ninoy's death anniversary, and Cory's oath of office.

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