Monday, May 4, 2009

Ako Mismo, Juana Change: I want to make a difference, but...

I have other post topics waiting to be finished and published, but I feel this one needs to be out ASAP. The past few weeks have been crazy in the online world, but also in the world of traditional media, TV in particular, because the start of May heralded election year in the Philippines. We've started seeing political ads left and right, as well as interesting ploys to market presidentiables.

The most garish, in my humble opinion, is the campaign that involves a presidentiable riding a pedicab. That coupled with a publicity stunt on Wowowee involving a marriage proposal, crocodile tears, and a profession of love "kahapon, ngayon, at bukas" while HHWW along an unnamed beach resort.

That's why it was refreshing to see a number of advocacy campaigns also launched by concerned citizens.

Juana Change by the Convergence Team, a group of creative artists, advocates, activists and communicators, created a series of filmed short “virals” of vignettes that depict what we have become as Filipinos. It's the most honest campaign that I've seen and the videos make you cringe while you laugh because you see yourself and others in them. They poke fun at everyone -- the government, politicians, OFWs, regular citizen -- in a way that's bordering on political incorrectness but truly hits a nerve. What it lacks is a clear next step for support, but then again, it still does it's job of making people think. Below is one video I've picked-up from YouTube and you'll find the others there as well.

Youth Vote Philippines is part of the Convergence Team and has created a web portal where they intend to aggregate content about candidates to empower the youth with information in a non-partisan way. It will be challenging, I think, for them to ensure balanced exposure for all candidantes but it could be empowering if they pull it off. What I like about what they're doing is that it's very Web 2.0 -- instead of putting up their own content, they intend to mashup from other online sources. I also like the idea that they're using ning to build their social network, and that they're using music concerts to create their noise.

The most controversial new campaign right now was launched last Sunday during the Paquiao fight. I also saw the print ads on broadsheets I was reading on my flight back to Manila from Leyte. When a friend of mine wrote about it and posted a link on Facebook, that triggered me to click-thru. Of course, I'm talking about the Ako Mismo movement that is striking a lot of controversy online. Shortly after I pledged on the site and re-posted the link on Facebook, I got violent reactions from those who saw it.

A lot has been written about it over the past two days. Instead of doing a recap, here are some links you can follow:

My point of view: It's a good cause worth joining. I don't care if someone will win awards for it in the coming Ad Congress. It's what I will call a great idea turned into a solid HumanKind Act. I was willing to provide my personal contact information on the website in good faith.

If it does turn out to be a ploy to generate a large database to be used for an specific political campaign, I anticipate a public outrage, which has already started.

My biggest learnings with this campaign: If you're promoting an advocacy, be very transparent. Be ready and quick to provide enough information to your community. And knowing who is leading the movement, being clear about the movement's objectives and intentions, and providing a clear privacy policy that is pro-community rather than pro-organizer is imperative. A good advertising strategy needs a good PR strategy to complement it. 

Right now, no one has claimed ownership of the movement. DDB has kept silent, despite their logo being on the TV ad. PLDT-Smart has denied ownership. Expect more buzz (albeit negative) about this in the next few days. Bad publicity is still publicity? We don't know. For me, it's as much a cliffhanger right now as waiting for who will become the next American Idol.


  1. The saga continues. Another blog about this:

  2. And another:

  3. Maxine Magalona speaks up:

  4. Great coverage Lawrence. Glad you covered it in detail.

  5. Thanks, Janette. I'm learning a lot from you. I consider you one of my mentors now. :)


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