One of the happiest of childhood memories I can remember is from entering a fast-food chain, whose smiling mascot looks like a bloated fly. It was one of the first times I went to Jollibee (Even though it was obvious from the name, I still mistook it for a fly). This big bee is no joke though. Conquering most of the fast-food industry in the Philippines, this happy insect is also known for being a fast-food power-house. That’s enough business talk though, it’s the nostalgia instilled within its walls that truly give it its magic. Every Filipino child, born from the 80’s onwards, remembers this as a place of fun and excitement. I remember parents used to give trips to Jollibee as a prize to those that get good school grades, or to those who gets school honours, or even by just doing the chores (albeit, this one’s really rare - maybe for the rich kids, never for me though). If you’re Filipino, you know Jollibee. If you even just happened to visit the Philippines, you’ve at least have passed by. Its smiling face is everywhere.
Sweet, sweet taste...
The Filipino tongue was said to be longing for sweetness, and the bloated fly doesn’t disappoint in this category. Let’s start talking about their obvious best-seller, the Chicken Joy. This meal just brims with chicken juices and starts off with its signature crackle at each bite. Speaking of Filipinos longing for sweets there’s their Jolly-Spaghetti, a sweeter take on the Italian classic, but with sausage slices instead of meatballs (Philippine children’s parties later adapted this concept). Their burgers find a place in people’s hearts too; the patty has a leaner taste in comparison with the fast food king McDonald’s, which are good for people like me who doesn’t really like a strong meaty taste to our food. The prices are great as well, ranging from dirt-cheap to being moderately reasonable, but never reaching the over-priced rates of five-star restaurants, who gives a midget of food for the price of a house. It should be obvious by now that Jollibee’s focus market, or at least at first, was children but because of these prices, the common worker is also drawn, not only by the smell of enticing food but also by the tempting price tag.
The Bee's Place in our Hearts
So what stops Jollibee from being a fast-food monopoly? Actually it already, kind of, is (depending on who you ask, or what resources you read). That is due to the amount of loyalty Filipinos give to the brand. Within its walls are not only promises of cheap and delicious food, but also of memories. That time when you’ve won your basketball game and were treated for a dinner party by your coach. That time you won best in something and Jollibee was the prize, your parents could think of. Maybe even the place for your first date. The reason why some of Jollibee’s commercials, or at least those found in YouTube, are mostly about memories and life moments is because the advertising team knows that this is what was driving Filipinos to come to Jollibee. Whatever it may be, if you’re Filipino then this bloated fly had someplace in your heart at some moment in time.