Creating and sustaining brand connections

From an online platform, YouTube has evolved to become an effective marketing and advertising tool, allowing advertisers to capture and engage with consumers

Date of publication: June 29, 2015

Manila Bulletin-Business Agenda

Global, diverse, on demand, and mobile. If you ask Gautam Anand, these are the attributes a media platform in the future should have if it wants to be successful—characteristics organic to video-sharing website YouTube. It is no wonder then that the site has become a powerful platform for brands to connect to consumers. Here’s how fast and massive YouTube has grown over the decade: every month, over 1 billion viewers visit the site, where every minute about 300 hours of content are uploaded. From the first video uploaded in YouTube 10 years ago, the online platform has evolved tremendously that it comes second to Google as the top search engine at present—enough reason for brands to take advantage of the site. Anand, who heads YouTube Partnerships and Operations across Asia Pacific, attributes the success of YouTube to how it was able to make itself an international platform when Google acquired it in 2006. Eighty percent of YouTube viewership is from outside the U.S. It has presence in 73 countries, and is available in 76 languages. Its daily users have grown over 40 percent year over year. Its watch time, or the amount of content people are watching, grew over 50 percent year on year.


In the Philippines, YouTube watch time has grown 60 percent. Anand says the Philippines is growing faster than their global average, an indication that the content of YouTube resonates with Filipinos. The country has a good mix of content being consumed. Filipinos are consuming lot of international content—a mix that is unique here, Anand notes. At the same time, they are seeing Filipino local talent starting to get more traction. The number of hours of local content uploaded grew by 20 percent since last year. Anand recalls launching YouTube here with only music, traditional media, and movie labels as their partners. Now there are a variety of content from blogs, games, and even kids’ programming. The first-generation of Filipino creators are thriving, with the likes of Mikey Bustos and Bogart the Explorer dominating local YouTube channels over the last years. “What’s truly changing is this next generation of voices is emerging and they are creating content in all different genres—labels are discovering artists, independent musicians are getting their voices in YouTube. The variety of content that is available in YouTube today is so much broader than what we have four years ago and it reaches out to audiences with even the smallest of niches of interests. That’s what’s really powerful,” he says.

Gautam Anand, head of YouTube Partnerships and Operations-APAC.

Gautam Anand, head of YouTube Partnerships and Operations-APAC.


As advertising continues to change, expect media and how content will be consumed to be altered as well. For one, content will come from everywhere. Anand says people will get content from various sources and it would not even matter as long the audience can get something relevant from it. People would want a healthy dose of variety as well, especially younger people with diverse interests. Brands, he says, should learn how to fill this void and create content that connects to the audience. “That is what is powerful in having a global platform, if you create a great content, it doesn’t matter where it came from, it doesn’t matter what language it is in. People will watch it if it resonates with them. If you create great content, it will be consumed,” he says. Second, content will come from everyone. Anand points out how programming is very different today that one would never turn on the television anymore just to watch how-to videos. “You can find pretty much everything on YouTube,” he says. Content will continue to be consumed mobile, something that Anand admits they did not expect to happen at this fast a pace. Today, half of their YouTube viewership across the world is mobile. “In the Philippines, we already got 40 percent of viewership that is mobile,” Anand shares, and this is amid the infrastructure and telecommunication challenges at present. “The fact that even with those challenges, getting a lot of viewership in all devices [here in the country] is truly phenomenal.” Over the years, YouTube has also challenged how brands come up with effective advertisements. Before, advertising solely relied on traditional media but technology has allowed people to skip ads. “If you look today, 85 percent of our ads are skippable and what that has done is force content advertisers to really think about advertising and ads very differently. Thinking about creating content that resonates, they are becoming story tellers, and they are creating extremely compelling programming,” Anand notes. A testament to a great programming that agencies and advertisers are creating now, he says, is how four out of the top 20 videos of YouTube last year were actual ads.

Some brands like Nestle’s NIDO Fortigrow chose to make their message relevant by connecting their ads to celebrations like Mother’s Day.

Some brands like Nestle’s NIDO Fortigrow chose to make their message relevant by connecting their ads to celebrations like Mother’s Day.


Last June 26, YouTube Philippines released its leaderboard for the first half of 2015. The list represents the 10 ads on YouTube that resonated most with audiences across the country for the first half of 2015. Key trends of the ads that made it to the list include:

Filipino flavor. Seven out of 10 of the ads have a distinctly Filipino flavor—proof that the industry is getting better at telling brand stories that consumers want to know about. “For the Philippines, over the years, we are one market that has been very overwhelmingly local, showing Filipino engagement,” says Ryan Morales, head of Marketing for Google Philippines.

Films, not just ads. Most of the ads were made to look like films. The number one from Nestle tells a tale of a generation of motherhood, while Palmolive’s ad goes in another direction that makes it as a music video in its own right.

Seizing the moment. Nestle, Closeup, and Globe also took advantage of popular celebrations like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day in making their messages relevant.

Global stories. On the other hand, some ads show that Filipinos will watch ads from global brands if the story is told in a compelling way. Clash of Clans uses a famous face (Liam Neeson), while Hyundai captures our interest with an awe-inspiring message from a daughter to her Dad working a long way from home.

Made for digital. This set of leaderboard is also dominated by ads that were born digital, with formats created specifically with YouTube’s audience in mind. Seven out of 10 ads are well beyond the length of the standard 30-second TV slot.

It seems that one can only expect more from YouTube. “For the last 10 years, we’ve created a truly global platform. I think we have an opportunity to create an ecosystem in the Philippines because there are a lot of things happening. I’m excited for the next three years,” Anand ends. (Read:

The 2015 YouTube Ads Leaderboard (Philippines H1)

  1. Nestle-Mother’s Day (NIDO FORTIGROW)
  2. Closeup-Nadine Lustre dared to surprise James Reid for Closeup #CupidGames
  3.  Clash of Clans-Revenge (Official Super Bowl TV Commercial)
  4.  McDonalds-Brilliant machine delivers hot meal… and more!
  5. Ariel-Finally Ariel
  6. Samsung-Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge (Official Introduction)
  7. Hyundai-A Message to Space
  9. Globe-#ShareYourVibe and Make Everyday V-Day! 
  10. Palmolive-Palmolive Hair Bounce Dance Tutorial from Julia, Janella and Liza 

Future-proofing the retail business

The retail scene that we know today will not be the same tomorrow, and companies and brands must brace themselves for the disruption

There are four points that Tara Prabhakar wants retailers and brands to know about the shopping scene. First, there is an impending massive polarization. Next, technology will greatly disrupt how business is done. Third, people will trade in time, money and angst. And fourth, retailing will no longer be about profit from buying and selling. “It will still be shopping but there will be a huge disruption,” says the managing director for Retail and Shopper at TNS and Kantar Retail Asia Pacific, who recently flew to Manila to share the results of their global research on the future of shopping. The study reveals that retailers and brands need to be ready for massive disruption—on technology, demography and urbanization—because these will change how the retail industry works and how consumers shop by 2025—even sooner. Prabhakar explains, “The business of retailing has three key elements: the ‘who’—the people doing the shopping; the ‘how’—the activities involved in reaching and connecting with them; and the ‘what’—the actual transaction that takes place.” While the definitions will not change, she says these elements will evolve dramatically in the future so brands need to “make sure they are on the front foot to avoid extinction.” THE FUTURE OF SHOPPING Retail will be driven by economic prosperity, geopolitics and technology. Asian products will be big, and with the ASEAN Economic Community taking place, access to more Asian brands will be easier. China, says Prabhakar, will push for marketing their products as “designed from China” from the widely known “made in China” concept. But the single, biggest disruptor—all around the world—will be technology. For one, retail will no longer be just a point of transaction. Mixed-use developments will become the norm so that people can gather for work, education, travel, or for healthcare services or worship, while still doing their grocery shopping. Shoppers will also demand a more one-to-one, tailored approach and in turn, retailers should provide them with customized content. “People want businesses to understand them and see what they really want—something they have lost, some part of themselves that they left behind—and businesses that allow them to feel this connection will win patronage, loyalty and evangelism,” shares Prabhakar. Retailers can tap technology and Big Data to help them. Delivery in the future will be more challenging, too, as there will be “massive shopper polarization” across markets. The ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ will have different delivery needs, she says, and they will be willing to pay for different delivery options. Using drones is just one of these next-gen delivery systems TNS is predicting to be tapped by retailers. Already, Alibaba in China, DHL in Germany, and Google have used drones in delivering goods to rural places. And with the shipping and fuel costs continuing to increase, retailers will need to look for alternative means to reach more markets. “Shoppers will soon expect to shop anywhere, anytime and receive the product with minimum time lag. Winning in emerging markets is all about winning in distribution. And technology and crowd-sourced models allow businesses the ability to do this profitably,” she says. By crowd sourcing, retailers would employ people who need work at a given time to deliver their products to shoppers. Think of it as the “Uberification” of shopping. In Asia, some retailers are already thinking of outsourcing through small convenience stores. Prabhakar cites how Amazon partnered with traditional stores in India to deliver goods. “Zalora is doing that with 7/11 in Indonesia and in the Philippines soon,” she adds. TRADITIONAL TRADE TO STAY Locally, traditional trade such as sari-sari stores will remain important to Filipino consumers. “Traditional trading will not be killed off by modern format or by eTail (electronic retail) because it satisfies a very different mission from what eTailing and modern formats satisfy. When you want to go buy your bouillon sauce for your soup, you won’t get it from online retail, you’d still go to your traditional store,” says Prabhakar, adding that this is one point that is “really unique to the Philippines.” She notes, however, that retailers using this format must learn how to leverage its presence and reach to stay alive—a development that will be made faster if the more advanced retailers would see the opportunity of working with these traditional traders. In many markets such as Mexico, she says, one can find that traditional trade is consolidating. “Traditional trade is here to stay if modern format manufacturers and eTailers start leveraging the scale and reach of traditional trade, work with them as allies and partners rather than think of them as competition,” she says, adding that once this happens, a huge shift in the retail landscape in the Philippines will occur. BE AT EASE WITH SHOPPING ONLINE The country must also be more “at ease” with using online space in trade, especially since there are a lot of Filipinos living and working abroad. “The Philippines should be one of the biggest online markets, but there is a huge amount of infrastructure worries around online shopping. You should be comfortable in terms of being an online market,” she notes. Enhanced security processes should be laid out as well. Prabhakar cites how Vietnam has been able to take care of the infrastructure values involved in online shopping and that it has now grown faster than the Philippines in this area. “That’s the only way to go. Once the infrastructure relations and worries around online are taken care of, you’ll find a step change in the number of people shopping online in the Philippines,” she ends. Published in Manila Bulletin on June 15, 2015.

Power to the unbanked

Section: Business Agenda, Manila Bulletin
Publication date: June 16, 2014

BPI Globe BanKO’s unconventional solution to the country’s common problem scales up to meet its goal of giving every Filipino a bank account

Through its network of over 2,000 partner outlets all over the country, BanKO started delivering financial services to those who wouldn’t even have thought of opening a savings account in a regular bank.

Through its network of over 2,000 partner outlets all over the country, BanKO started delivering financial services to those who wouldn’t even have thought of opening a savings account in a regular bank.

There are three things BPI Globe BanKO President John Rubio would like every Filipino to have: 1) a bank account; 2) easier access to capital; and 3) bank reach within every 10 minutes.

One might say it’s a long stretch, given the statistics of unbanked Filipinos today, but for the country’s first-ever mobile phone-based savings bank, penetrating the 60 to 80 percent of the population can be done. In fact, they’ve been doing it since 2009 and have been getting great results so far.

A collaboration of the country’s three leading companies, BanKO has tapped the financial expertise of BPI, the mobile technology platform of Globe, and the sustainability thrust of Ayala Corporation in bringing forward a brand for unbanked Filipinos.

Through its network of over 2,000 partner outlets all over the country, BanKO started delivering financial services to those who wouldn’t even have thought of opening a savings account in a regular bank.

Beyond brick and mortar

BanKO has deviated from the traditional banking process by eliminating the physical structure of a bank, using instead something almost all Filipinos have with them: a mobile phone and a SIM.

Through its network of over 2,000 partner outlets all over the country, BanKO started delivering financial services to those who wouldn’t even have thought of opening a savings account in a regular bank. The only requirement for a partner outlet is to be in an area that people frequent and where they transact regularly so they have enough liquidity. “This way, if someone needs to cash in or cash out, they can facilitate,” Rubio explains.

There is no minimum daily balance required for BanKO’s PondoKo savings account. For P100 (P50 of which goes to the ATM card and the rest to the initial cash-in), one valid ID, and a Globe or TM SIM, any person aged seven years old and up can open an account. Since the account goes with an ATM card, account-holders can withdraw from any ATM nationwide.

Aside from partners that include pawnshops like Tambunting, CVM, Prime Asia and Jaro; Generika Drugstores; and Czarina Money Changer, BanKo customers can transact at more than 6,000 GCash outlets nationwide. They can also use that electronic money to buy load, pay bills, and pay in a POS device in grocery stores.

A bank to beat ‘five-six’

BanKO is now at a point where Rubio says that growth is scalable.

“[For] about nine out of 10 of the new customers we acquire, it’s their first bank account,” reveals Rubio. “We are introducing financial services to a segment of the population who’ve never known how to save money in a bank with interest, or have been able to say that they have access to borrowing money,” he adds. BanKo acquires between 40,000 to 50,000 new customers every month—a lot of them neophytes to financial services.

BanKO also aims to get rid of the “five-six” loaning system prevalent in poor communities. “Since not many people have access to banks, people have no access to capital funds,” Rubio says. Filipinos are then left to take the bait of loan sharks and end up being in debt all their lives. “Our goal is to eradicate five-six lending within the next five years. How can we do that? We want to give every Filipino access to capital when and where they need it,” he states.

Through PuhunanKO, BanKO offers micro-finance loans to small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs. It partners with a lot of FMCG companies where sari-sari store owners can buy their products on credit. “The distributor is happy because I pay them directly. The sari-sari stores make a spread of 10 to 15 percent of the product that they buy and maybe they turn it around three times before they have to pay me, at 2.5 to three percent. It’s a big difference from five-six,” he explains.

Inclusive financial growth

For BanKO to holistically work, they had to push for financial literacy among Filipinos who need it most. Through PaniguroKO, BanKO offers a voluntary micro-insurance product for protection against damage to property in case of fire, lightning, floods, earthquakes and accidental death.

They also partnered with social development and non-government organizations to widen their reach. With the USAID-funded Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money (SIMM) project, BanKO developed mobile banking ecosystems in Pulilan, Bulacan and Batangas City. With the partnership with Mercy Corps and Goal International, BanKO was able to transfer emergency cash to victims of typhoon Yolanda; and to offer a more sustainable solution to poverty, BanKO came up with a financial literacy program for the beneficiaries of DSWD’s conditional cash transfer program.

While many Visayan banks had no choice but to close after typhoon Yolanda, BanKO’s mobile platform allowed it to provide service to its customers, especially in Tacloban. “It is actually one of the places where we have a lot of people using BanKo to pay their electric bills,” Rubio reveals.

“Interestingly, one of the first banks in Tacloban that was able to resume business was our partner outlet, which was a salon,” Rubio shares, adding that this showed how resilient the system is.

“We tried to find our customers. As long as there was signal, they received an SMS from BanKo that told them their funds were safe and they could withdraw,” he says, adding that they also created partner outlets in the areas that were devastated so that people could withdraw if they needed to. “We partnered with Mercy Corporation so we could get some initial cash aid to a lot of our subscribers in the hard-hit areas in the Visayas,” he says. Right now, they have 25,000 Mercy Corps /BanKo beneficiaries.

The Filipino banker

Rubio has been a witness to the real profile of the Filipino saver: honest, hardworking, purposeful and dedicated.

This might seem a surprise to some, but Rubio says it’s an observation backed up by their systems. While some skeptics were saying Filipinos don’t want to save, “especially Filipinos who earn a certain amount per day,” Rubio avers, “that’s not true. Filipinos, once they understand and have access to do it, would start saving because they want to set money for a better life.” Through BanKO’s Cash In Cash Out (CICO) process, they were able to track how much money came in and out of their system. “We reached a ratio between 1.2 to 1.4 percent. Meaning for every P1,000 that goes out, P1,300 comes in. It means people are growing their savings accounts,” he says.

Filipinos are also good at paying their loans. “They appreciate the fact that they have access to capital and they pay. You just need to give them access,” he once again stresses.

Right now, BanKO works with Puregold to provide credit cards to its Aling Puring members. They are also creating the very first bank in Culion, Palawan. “What we’re trying to do is have a group to ensure you get consistent service across all the 2,500 partner outlets we have nationwide, to which we add about 200 to 300 partner outlets every month,” he says.

Changing the banking landscape

BanKO is indeed changing the banking landscape as it taps the market most commercial banks would not be able to reach. “We’re getting there. I think we’re on the cusp of changing the landscape. But it’s a fairly new bank. We started in 2009, we started scaling in 2012, and right now we have 650,000 customers. We’re going to end the year with about a million,” Rubio states.

Going against people’s preconceptions of the banking system was tough. “People question the product cost [because] our account has no maintaining balance—you can open one with only R100. They’re like, ‘Is that true?’ But it’s real. A lot of it is about financial literacy,” he says.

The rewards can be felt now, Rubio is pleased to report. “You cannot believe how much pride the people have when they say, ‘I have an ATM card.’ Seeing that pride of people when they get that bank account, showing that ATM…that’s why we do it,” he ends.

Bridging the Climate Finance Gap

Section: Business Agenda, Manila Bulletin
Publication date: August 19, 2013

Globally, the clock is ticking as both private and public sectors try to find ways to fund investments on a low-carbon, clean energy future. Is the Philippines ready for the shift?

What we know is that the world has significantly changed in the last decade or two-politically, economically, socially, technologically, and most important of all, environmentally. Most countries have stepped up to address climate change-related issues, with leaders all around the world convening to tackle problems and draw up possible solutions to what has become a global phenomenon. Yet as we try to address climate change scenarios, the challenge remains the same: where do we look for financial support?

”The key challenge is the financing or the money needed in order to shift investments to a low-carbon, clean energy future,” says Manish Bapna, executive vice president and managing director of World Resources Institute (WRI). WRI is a think tank committed to putting ideas into action by working on the most urgent sustainability issues facing the planet. Bapna was recently in the country to speak about climate finance during the latest Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF).

”The World Economic Forum recently came out with a report that said that between now and 2030, about $5.7 trillion a year on average will be spent on infrastructure investments. About $5 trillion is what the ‘business as usual’ scenario suggests, and the challenge there is that we need to shift that money to more clean infrastructure investments,” he asserts. The problem is, an additional $700 billion a year will be needed on top of what is currently projected in order to ensure the shift to a low-carbon, clean energy future.

Tapping The Public Sector
Bapna says the public sector needs to help mobilize adequate private funding so that there will be enough money for investing in clean energy.

”They can remove subsidies for fuel, they can provide support for clean energy until it becomes more mature, and they can make a good policy environment,” he says. In addition, Bapna says the public sector can also introduce a de-risking mechanism.”One of the greatest challenges is that the risk-reward tradeoff is insufficiently attractive for the private sector to invest in clean energy. So one of the things that public sector can do is to provide guarantees and insurance, to cover certain kinds of risks-in order to reduce the risks faced by the private sector, which would help enable them be more likely to invest in these areas,” he explains.

The public sector can also provide lending instruments like loan equity. One of the things that the ADB did about two years ago, according to Bapna, is set up a ventures capital fund. ”They are now taking equity infusion in clean energy capital fund because a lot of times these are fairly high risk technologies or in high risk countries where getting equity is very difficult,” he shares.

The Opportunities
For the business sector, climate financing is going to be ”the biggest market opportunity in the next 20 years,” according to Bapna.

”When you look at the transition that is taking place in the energy sector, in the transport sector, in the building sector, and in the agriculture sector, there is a tremendous business opportunity for companies to make money, because a lot of the opportunity is what we call ‘negative cost’,” he explains. These are investments that have great economic returns but are not really taken advantage of because of institutional policy barriers.

Add to this the scope of clean energy itself. ”We’re seeing that a lot of clean energy-solar, wind, public transportation-that some of these new markets are also increasingly getting cost effective. In the next five years, I imagine we’ll be seeing solar or wind significantly getting more cost-competitive than coal or oil,” he says. And these opportunities are much more attractive to Asia and the Philippines because ”these are resources that the Philippines and other Asian countries have domestically. They don’t need to import,” Bapna points out. If the Philippines doesn’t need to import, then it doesn’t need to spend its currency.

The Challenges
Bapna says there are barriers that continue to challenge effective climate financing: policy and legal, institutional, industry, and financial barriers.

”We need to get long, loud, and clear policies in place,” he says. ”Long, meaning stable policy for 10 years. Loud, meaning it has to be sufficiently ambitious and clear. We need to send clear pricing that will promote clean energy as opposed to fossil energy, which is historically the case so far,” Bapna explains.There is also the call for more strong institutions that can help shift countries on to clean energy. ”Oftentimes, it’s unclear where leadership for this will rest within government,” he says.

Government should also support the industry. ”I think the governments can do a lot to help create some basic local public goods, doing a detailed resource assessment of what our potential is for solar or wind in a country,” he says. This can be incredibly valuable for companies that are looking to invest, he adds.

At the same time, what governments can do is to help create greater awareness among banks to lend to clean energy type of investments. ”I think governments can provide some types of early instruments to help cover certain risks that banks may have initially,” Bapna says, adding that once these banks have more familiarity with regard to the risks, then they can do it on their own.

Is The Philippines Ready?
While the share of renewable energy has been increasing among Asian countries, it has declined in the Philippines the last few years.

Bapna attributes this trend to the country’s policy mechanism. ”Part of it is the ongoing public debate right now about feed-in tariffs (FiTs),” he shares. There still remains to be a need to create a constructive, productive, public discussion about the shift to clean energy. ”We need to have strong public support for bold policy on clean energy. Until you have that conversation and public support, you can never take the step toward the change we need to see,” he says.

What is interesting in the case of the Philippines, Bapna notes, is its archipelagic geography. ”The fact that it is an archipelago, that clean energy decentralizes energy solutions, will oftentimes be more cost-competitive than conventional diesel-based energy,” he says. ”I think we will see in the Philippines a lot of potential for clean energy growth. The economics of the Philippines will allow clean energy companies to thrive because of the cost of alternative energy. Those businesses that are first movers in space will have markets not just in the Philippines but will have a broader market in Asia and if not around the world,” he says. Still, this is the positive long-term range.

”In the short-term, we know that there are ups and downs. We need long, loud, clear policies to help create a stable, enabling environment to allow these companies to thrive,” Bapna says. ”What businesses are looking for is stability. They’re okay paying or having clean energy subsidized to a certain extent. What they want back is stable policy because with stability, they can make investment cost-benefit decisions,” Bapna says.

In the end, it’s all just a matter of timing. ”It’s not the question of whether we make the shift. It’s the question of when. Although it is, at the moment, still really a very small percent, I imagine in the next 20 to 40 years that is going to change quite radically. The question is how we can do that as quickly as possible,” he concludes.

(Archive) Changing Lives, One Light At A Time

Section: Business Agenda, Manila Bulletin

Publication date: April 30 , 2012

In this digital age, where we see technology advance in the blink of an eye, it is ironic that there are still a lot of people who are still in the dark—literally.

According to the International Electricity Agency, the number of people without access to electricity in 2009 is an estimated 1.3 billion, almost 20 percent of the world’s population. In the Philippines, more than 15 million Filipinos in 2,270 barangays are still without light. To compensate, families use kerosene lamps, candles and makeshift wood that are dangerous to their health.

Non-profit foundation One Million Lights’ (OML) advocacy is helping people with no access to electricity. No access impedes their lives, robbing them of opportunities to improve their situation. Global company Energizer’s latest campaign platform “that’s positivenergy” meanwhile, goes beyond selling products to various markets. In a surprising twist of fate, these two found themselves working together with the same vision—changing lives with every light they give out.

Founded in 2008 in Palo Alto, California, OML aims to provide one million lights to communities and families without access to electricity by providing them with solar-powered lights. It was started by Anna Sidana, who at first was just wondering how to be more involved in the school her father put up in India. Working in e-Bay then, she saw that students back in India were having a hard time with school; without lights, it was difficult for them to study at night. Soon, OML found more companies donating lights.

“In the next few months we were trying to figure out where to give the lights,” recalls Laura Chao, program manager of OML. “So it was exciting last year when Energizer sponsored and donated 11,000 lights so we can give these organizations the lights that we previously didn’t have,” she says.

A Chosen Country

Here in the Philippines, things are also looking bright. “We had the Energizer global night race wherein we pledged 11,000 solar-powered lights in 2011,” shares Joan Mendoza, Energizer Philippines brand manager. Part of the proceeds of the global night race was donated to OML headquarters in Palo Alto. Unknowingly, one of the four countries to be given the lights apart from Ethiopia, Argentina and Kenya was the Philippines. “Actually we are the country who is receiving the most number of lights among these countries; in Asia we are the only one,” informs Mendoza.

Why the California headquarters chose the Philippines is largely due to OML’s Philippine chapter headed by then PAREF students Mark Lozano and Tricia Peralta. Lozano and Peralta first thought of giving solar-powered lights during a debate tournament last year. Lozano recalls that the group of students was just discussing things they could actually do to save the environment, from planting trees and recycling, when Mark suddenly found himself blurting out: “What about solar-powered light?”

Silence ensued. “The others didn’t believe that it was possible but I suddenly thought I really wanted to do it,” shares Peralta, who right then and there started looking for a community to benefit from the project. Lozano, on the other hand, would find his Global Youth Leaders Conference (GYLC) experience handy in connecting to people who would lead them to OML. After several meetings with the international organization, sleepless nights and solicitation rejections, OML Philippines had its first distribution in Barangay Dugui Too in Virac, Catanduanes.

Positive Energy Can Spark Change

Fueled by the success of their first distribution, Lozano and Peralta, together with their closest friends, started planning their next project. Back in California, Energizer asked OML to suggest a beneficiary-country for its solar-powered lights.

“We suggested the Philippines because we have such a great Philippine team,” says Chao, who admires how Lozano and Peralta have been heading OML’s Philippine chapter. While most countries have partner NGOs, Chao said setting up a chapter here in the country came as a natural thing with the young group’s dedication to OML’s advocacy. “It just sort of played out—originally they were just fund-raising, and politely doing distribution…they distributed 250 lights to Catanduanes last year,” Chao says, “then, after that, they wanted to do more distributions, they continued to fund-raise, they continued to try to grow the projects here.” Today, OML Philippines has nine core members and around 60 volunteers that include Rotaracts and school organizations.

The first beneficiary of OML-Energizer partnership was Barangay Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal, where 100 solar-powered lights were distributed. Another 400 lights were given recently to 11 towns in Oriental Mindoro, with the help of the Rotary Club of Victoria and Caritas Manila. Most of the beneficiaries here were Mangyan natives. They are set to go to Eastern Samar, Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Catanduanes for the rest of the summer.

The solar-powered lights are not yet available in the market, making the distribution even more special. “It is not as available as we would like it to be in the Philippines, that’s why it’s unique; at the same time it also brings us to the grassroots communities,” says Mendoza, who admits that this is different from the event-based donations they have done before. “[With] this one,” she says, “we are actually the ones who travel to reach the communities we are helping.”

Mendoza says they are supporting OML not only with the product, but also with propagating the advocacy on sustainable energy. “We see the need for sustainable energy,” she says. “Sustainable meaning clean and safe. [Since] Energizer has this technology and capacity, we are able to fund these kinds of projects and we’re grateful to OML because they are our arm in distributing these products,” she adds.

And it’s not free in its strictest sense. The beneficiaries were asked to pay P30 per lamp (almost the same amount a family spends for kerosene) as maintenance fee. In a way, this will instil ownership among them and will deter them from selling off their lamps.

“It is more to alleviate the condition of living of these communities, to see that there is actually progress,” explains Mendoza. “It is bringing technology to them, and integrating that technology into their lives…these people are so simple and they do not have the same access to technology or science as we do. So for them to actually have this technology is truly something,” she says.

For a company that claims it is “constantly improving our green portfolio products,” this partnership with OML is just the beginning of Energizer’s campaign to promote positive energy. For OML, it is still a long journey to reach the one million mark. Yet seeing the grateful faces of their beneficiaries and getting feedback on their improved lives are more than enough to keep them going.

“It’s not just a literal light,” says Peralta. These solar-powered lights bring enlightenment not just to the households and communities, but more so to the ones giving them. “For us, it really boils down to people wanting to help [but] they just don’t know how. So it inspired them to give back to the community, as opposed to just giving donations,” she concludes.


Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.


(Archive) Secured Success

Section: Business Agenda

Publication date: April 16, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — It’s hitting two birds with one stone—you give customers the option to send money quickly and securely; and help the country’s position in the remittance market standing inch further up.

This is the inspiration behind MoneyGram’s newest campaign in money transfer service. “Moneygrado sa MoneyGram” (a contraction of the words “money” and “sigurado [sure]”) is the company’s first global marketing campaign that specifically targets the more than 90 million
Filipinos living around the world.

With remittance from the 8.2 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) worldwide expected to increase, MoneyGram is very confident that the Philippines can be the third largest “remittance received” market in the world. Mexico currently holds the spot, according to World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Factbook. Established in Dallas, Texas, the global money transfer company now has 267,000 agent locations worldwide. Locally, there are 9,000 locations, making it the single largest network remittance company in the country.

Aside from its global money transfer services, it has come up with innovative services like walk-in cash transactions that can be sent anywhere in the world in as little as 10 minutes; sending funds directly into the recipient’s bank account or ATM card; and transferring money through the use of mobile phones.

Family First

The close-knit Filipino culture plays a great role in making the country one of the highly promising remittance markets, and MoneyGram
is taking advantage of this. “Across the Philippines, and in key markets around the world, this new campaign will reinforce to the Filipino community that MoneyGram understands the important role that money transfers play in helping fami l ies stay connected,” says MoneyGram EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Juan Agualimpia.

MoneyGram is also tapping Filipino seafarers as it looks for ways to provide efficient service for them. Out of the 8.2 million OFWs, 20 percent are composed of those in Latin America and Russia and the seafarers. Like majority of Filipinos abroad, many ship workers still do not have the ability to open local bank accounts. With their money prone to getting lost inside the ship, they send their money back home as soon as their ship docks.

MoneyGram’s wide network allows Filipinos to immediately transfer money.

“In other countries, we have a shuttle to pick up these people and bring them to (MoneyGram) locations where they do their shopping, send money and go back to their ship again,” says Nick Cunnew, MoneyGram vice president for Asia Pacific. In Athens, they have a location inside a port so that when the ship docks, Filipino seafarers can easily send money on the spot.

The New Brand Ambassador

The company is taking bigger steps to reach its goals. Just recently, it introduced actor and TV personality Robin Padilla as its brand ambassador, a first in the history of the Asia Pacific market.

“We don’t really use endorsers,” says Cunnew. He admits though that Padilla is the best choice to represent the brand. “Robin has worked hard to understand the product…how he can add value to it,” says Cunnew.

For Padilla, being chosen to be the face and voice of MoneyGram’s Moneygrado campaign hits close to home. He expresses his admiration for our bagong bayanis (new heroes), even citing a chapter in his life where a lot of OFWs rallied for his immediate release from jail.

And he’s not new to money transfer either. Having his kids and ex-wife abroad, Padilla shares he uses money transfer services to send them money. “Ang pinagkaibahan nga lang, ako yung naglalabas ng pera sa bansa. Ngayon naman, gusto kong tumulong para lalo pang
mapabilis ang pagpapadala ng mga OFW natin ng pera sa pamilya nila rito (The only difference is that I’m sending out money from our country.

This time, I want to help our OFWs send money easily to their loved ones here),” says Padilla. He said that’s the reason OFWs go abroad, to provide money for their families in the Philippines, and it is only right to give them the fastest, easiest and most reliable service in money transfer.

“I think this is the best way we can help them—to make sure that they send their money straight (back home). For me this is a revolution,” says Padilla.

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.


(Archive) More Than Just A Box

Section: Business Agenda, Manila Bulletin

Publication date: April 13 , 2012

MANILA, Philippines — The formula was simple: come up with something that protects and preserves food, while being cost-efficient at the same time. The product was also simple: a six-layered carton made of 100 percent recyclable wood fiber that gives liquids a shelf life of up to a year without refrigeration.

The effect was powerful enough, such that the product became a household name, the way most of us refer to the act of photocopying as Xerox, toothpaste as Colgate or LPG as Gasul.

Yes, Tetra Pak is an actual brand and not just a generic carton package. Its roots go back to 1952 when Dr. Ruben Rausing established the Tetra Pak plant in Lund, Sweden. As a young man, Rausing had the opportunity to study abroad and discover that in the U.S., things were sold separately. Inspired, Rausing decided to have his own packaging machine. But packaging costs money, so he vowed that his own version would save more than it costs.

Preserving Liquids

One of the products that we normally see contained in paper cartons is milk, which also happens to be one of the most sensitive liquids. Such products rely heavily on UHT (ultra high temperature) and aseptic technologies.

UHT kills the microbes and their spores by heating milk up for a very short time. Aseptic technology, on the other hand, maintains the sterility of the product. These processes allow milk to maintain natural nutrients and taste, making it last up to 12 months without added preservatives and refrigeration.

Aside from milk, coco water (buko juice) also uses aseptic technology to have longer shelf life, which makes it possible to also be stored in paper cartons. In fact, 2011 put coconut water in the limelight, as no other than Madonna led the latest U.S. craze of coco water through the launch of her Vita Coco. Globally, the U.S. market tops the coco growth with the retail market valued at $350 million. In fact, from 2007 to 2011, a 146-percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for coco water has been noted.

Coco Loco

This can only mean good news to the Philippines. Next to Indonesia, the country is the second largest coconut producer in the world. In fact, our own buko juice has been called the “healthiest beverage in the U.S.” by Health Magazine. As the global market for coco water broadens, the demand is expected to increase. In the first semester of 2011 alone, a 315-percent increase in export rate was recorded—that’s 7.5 million liters of coco water from the previous 1.8 million.

Last year, after his state visit to the U.S., President Aquino shared that there will be a $15 million investment in the Philippines within a four-year period courtesy of Vita Coco. It doesn’t stop there. Vita Coco is not the only product whose coco water comes from local produce. Originally from Brazil, O.N.E. Coconut Water is now also being produced here through the partnership of Pepsi, Co. and a processing plant in Quezon. With the help of Tetra Pak technology, the plant can annually make 25 million liters of ready-to-drink coco water in one-liter containers.

Growing With Clients

From a simple vision, Tetra Pak has grown to become part of many lives worldwide. “Everyday, we touch almost half a billion people in the world. We are now reaching 160 billion packaging this year,” says Anders Wester, managing director for Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, during the company’s Innovation Day.

In the Philippines, Tetra Pak has been operating since 1981. According to John Jose, director for Marketing and Product Management for Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, Tetra Pak is bent on continuing to help its clients grow their existing businesses. Aside from packaging, the company is also into processing and providing training services that help customers operate their machines.

“Our challenges are also the opportunities,” says Jose. “In terms of new businesses, it’s looking into how we can penetrate the lower-income group of end-consumers, tapping more traditional trade [channels like] the sari-sari stores, groceries and supermarkets…by introducing the new tetro-fino aseptic package,” he adds. On the higher end, it means taking advantage of the store capacity they have in their existing Tetra Pak cartons. They also want to introduce value-added products like coco water. “Although we export them, they’re really not available here yet, but we love coconut, right? So it has a potential to be introduced here as well,” he says.

The company also tries to remain environment-friendly. “Protecting the environment is very important to Tetra Pak,” says Terrynz Tan, director for Communications and Environment. In 2005, the company joined the WWF climate savers that aim to reduce carbon footprint. Aside from tracking their carbon footprint, they make sure the wood fiber they use come from legal sources. With the help of third party partners, they also collect used cartons that undergo “repulping” or the process of separating the pulp from the carton, with the end product to be used in making new products made of poly-aluminum, paper and plastic resin.

Tetra Pak is definitely more than just a paper carton, but Jose says the bottom line is simply giving their clients what they need while staying true to the company’s vision. “We want to help our customers grow. At the end of the day, they are the ones using the products,” he concludes.

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.


(Archive) RP Next 3rd Remittance Market

Section: Main Business, Manila Bulletin

Publication date: March 22, 2012

Global money transfer company MoneyGram is bullish that the Philippines can be the third largest ‘remittance received’ market in the world as remittance from the 8.2 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) worldwide is expected to increase this year.

This was shared by MoneyGram International executives during the launch of the company’s ‘Moneygrado’ campaign, a global marketing drive specifically aimed to reach the Filipinos living around the world, not only geographically, but through messages and initiatives that are culturally and emotionally relevant.

According to World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Factbook, the Philippines is the fourth largest ‘remittance received’ market in the world. “We want to take it to third place,” shares Vice President for Asia Pacific Nick Cunnew. With a global network of more than 267,000 agent locations, MoneyGram is set to expand its presence in the country to address the growing remittance market in the Philippines.

“Across the Philippines, and in key markets around the world, this new campaign will reinforce to the Filipino community that MoneyGram understands the important role that money transfers play in helping families stay connected,” says MoneyGram EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Juan Agualimpia. “We plan to heighten awareness of the safe, reliable, and convenient services that MoneyGram offers to Filipinos including the 8.3 million Filipinos living abroad, whether sending or receiving funds.”

The company aims to be “the preferred global network for consumers and businesses that send and receive funds.” Agualimpia believes that they are well-positioned here in the country as evidenced by the fact that the Philippines, together with India, exceeded 40 percent increase in received transaction.

MoneyGram continues its growth with more than 9,000 agent locations added in 2011 alone.

Its $1.25 B revenue for the whole year of 2011 is a seven percent increase from previous year’s $1.17 billion.

Its EBITDA also grew 42 percent with a 2011 figure of $264 million.

It is also tapping the Filipino seafarer sector as it looks for ways to provide efficient service for them.


Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Multi-cultural Chicken

Section: Business Agenda

Publication date: March 12, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Alfonso Hortaleza was just looking for something different to satisfy his hunger after watching the 2010 Singapore Gran Prix. Little did he know that he would stumble upon his future business endeavor when he discovered 4 Fingers Chicken.

It was “love at first dining,” says the president of Mindblowing Delicious Food Corporation, who was so impressed with the brand—“we ate there for three straight days”—that he grabbed the opportunity to bring it to the Philippines when he found out they were planning to open a store here.

New York Meets Korea

“A chicken basically has four fingers; and when you eat our delicious chicken, you always use your four fingers,” Hortaleza says when asked for the reason behind the restaurant’s name. Introduced in 2009, 4 Fingers was conceptualized by four business partners who loved the Korean-style fried chicken they discovered in New York. Using various Asian flavors, they came up with a taste that became the signature 4 Fingers Chicken.

The store’s interiors transport you to the New York subway scene—complete with graffiti art, industrial lamps and upbeat music in the background. What seals the deal, however, is the way the chicken is served—hand-painted with your choice of either soy garlic or spicy sauce on customized military-inspired plates. The coating technique makes the chicken “crunchy on the outside and juicy in the inside.” They also offer Kim Chi Coleslaw, Katsu Chicken Sandwich, Calamari and Shrimp, Tofu Salad and Seafood Rice Box, among others.

The scene back in Singapore (half of the people lining up for 4 Fingers were Filipinos) and the fact that people in the Philippines love chicken were enough for Hortaleza and his partners to believe that the brand will be a hit here. True enough, a few weeks after the soft opening, Horataleza shares that they have already gained loyal customers. In fact, within a month of operations, they would already get an average of 150 orders of chicken per day.

Passion For Business

One of the original partners and the current 4 Fingers director, Jord Stefan Figee, recently visited the country for the launch of its flagship store in SM North EDSA. “This is the biggest store so far,” says Figee of the 180-square meter store with a 110-seating capacity that adopted the same look of the stores in Singapore, Indonesia and India.

It was the growth of the Philippine food service industry in the past years and the Filipinos’ knack for good food that brought Figee here. He says that the Philippines is a very interesting market and that it greatly helps that it is an English-speaking country. “We also recognize the huge interest and demand for international chain stores, especially those that offer non-traditional Filipino food,” he adds.

They also shied away from the bigger corporations for a partner. Figee asserts that they chose Hortaleza’s company because they were not just passionate about the business, but the group also understands the brand. He says even though having experience is definitely a plus, it’s not always necessary. “When we signed up with Alfonso, the most important criterion for us was that they do understand the brand and [that] they love it,” says Figee. “It’s not important to be the biggest, it’s important to have a quality product,” he concludes.

For more information, like 4 Fingers Chicken on Facebook (4 Fingers Crispy Chicken Philippines) and follow them on Twitter @4FCCPhilippines.

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.

In Demand: Philippine Coffee Beans

Section: Business Agenda

Publication date: February 27, 2012

MANILA, Philippines —Globally, coffee consumption continues to swell with an average growth of one percent every year. Next to petroleum oil, coffee is said to be the second most traded commodity in the world. The current annual demand for coffee beans is pegged at 64,000 metric tons and valued at around R5 billion. This may be good news for a country that belongs to the world’s coffee belt and produces all four coffee varieties (arabica, robusta, excelsa and liberica). Unfortunately, the Philippines currently produces only a paltry amount of coffee beans, contributing a small percentage to the world’s coffee supply.

Meeting The Demand

“The demand is great, [but the] supply [is] little,” says Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Proceso Alcala in his speech during the second Philippine Coffee Investors’ Forum held last November at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City. Although Alcala asserts that the coffee sector is not a dying industry, he acknowledges the fact that the country is lagging behind. Over the years, as worldwide demand continues to surge, there have been declining yields of coffee beans. Data from the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics show that the country’s coffee production in 2010 fell by 2.31 percent, while the first nine months of 2011 showed a 7.4 percent decrease.

The forum—organized by Nestlé Philippines, Inc. and the National Convergence Initiative (NCI), and attended by investors from Visayas and Mindanao—discussed policies and technologies on how to improve the country’s coffee industry. NCI is composed of the DA, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Government agencies presented some of the programs that aim to sustain the industry. One such program is the National Greening Initiative that aims to have 1.5 million seedlings, coffee included, planted on 1.5 million hectares of land from 2011 to 2016. At the same time, the DA has allotted R163 million for 2012 to address the decline in coffee production. A minimum of R50 million will be appropriated for post harvest facilities so that coffee farmers all over the country will gain more profit. They are also set to provide guidance on land preparation and develop the bee-keeping process (a technique that promises to enhance the growth of coffee beans) in partnership with State Universities and Colleges.

Empowering The Pinoy Farmer

There was a time when the Philippines was a net exporter of coffee. With the decrease in produce, however, we now have to import from other countries. “Currently, we’re sourcing 25 percent of our raw coffee requirement for soluble coffee manufacturing locally and we’re trying to compensate for the shortfall by importing coffee beans,” says Nestlé Philippines Head of Corporate Affairs and Senior Vice President Edith de Leon. At present, Nestlé buys 75 percent of its coffee beans abroad.

Nestlé is the biggest buyer of green coffee beans in the country, using them for their instant coffee. After the forum, members of the media and other guests were taken on a tour to show how coffee beans are planted, harvested and sold. Farmers and agronomists guided the touring groups as they checked out the Nestlé Experimental and Demonstration Farm (NEDF) in Tagum, Davao del Norte.

Established in September 1994, the NEDF offers farmers access to the latest and technologically advanced Robusta coffee farming tools and methods to help them efficiently improve produce. From 1996 to 2010, the NEDF has trained a total of 8,500 farmers. A duly accredited production nursery, it has also distributed 1.6 million Robusta coffee seedlings from 1996 to 2010.

The tour also included a visit to Nestlé’s coffee buying station. Nestlé has put up satellite coffee buying stations in various locations in the country to support local farmers through its direct buying policy. There, farmers can sell their products directly to Nestlé and get paid immediately based on the prevailing world market price of coffee beans. Aside from Tagum, there are buying stations in Davao, Iloilo, Isabela, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Agusan del Sur, Palawan, Tuguegarao, Solano, Bacolod, Bohol, Calamba, Alabang and Cavite.

Christophe Stern, Nestlé’s executive vice president and business executive manager for coffee and creamer, admits that helping more local farmers and achieving a higher yield of coffee products will never be easy. “It’s a process that will take time so we are planning to have a forum year after year,” says Stern. Just like last year, they plan to hold two forums annually. The company is also expanding by setting up additional plants in the country. Last year, Nestlé has allotted R4.8 billion for the first phase of its Coffeemate manufacturing plant in Tanauan, Batangas. The said facility targets completion by June this year.

With renewed commitment and support from both the government and private sectors, it’s not impossible to realize the dream of the Philippines becoming a major producer once again. “We believe in a very good future. We’re also very optimistic that we’ll be able to provide more Filipino coffee to the industry so that we—UFC, Café Puro and every player in this industry—can really help the coffee farmers of the Philippines,” says Daniel Aellen, executive vice president and chief finance officer for Nestlé. “I think that’s the most important,” he concludes, “everybody will benefit—the farmer, the consumer, [and] the industry. That’s the main task, the main reason we are here.”


Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.