The 3 best public relation campaigns in the Philippines during the pandemic

One thing has become certain for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic: they all need to work harder to cut through the noise. Business leaders understand better that media presence is the game, and in order to play it right, their voice must ring across all channels to communicate their place in the industry through an effective public relations campaign. 

However, many are struggling to secure their spot in the digital media. If you are the type to wonder how you can shake things up and relate your brand to your audience, then you have come to the right place. We will help you sort through some of the best public relation campaigns that companies in the Philippines have pulled during the pandemic to inspire you to keep your presence afloat and improve your sales just like many of them have.

To better understand how these campaigns can help your brand achieve success, we also break down some of the reasons why these have worked in our current setting.

1. Jollibee’s ‘A Message from the Future’ Digital PR Campaign

Image screenshot from Jollibee Studios’ YouTube video, ‘A Message from the Future.’

In 2021, Jollibee Philippines released a heart-warming campaign to up its brand image, just as it had the previous years. ‘A Message from the Future’ narrates the story of a Filipino migrant family in New York City that champions the value of family and highlights the silver lining amidst these difficult times. The message hit home to many Filipinos as it was released when the pandemic became a barrier to spend time with loved ones. As of Sept. 13, 2021, the Jollibee video reached more than 10 million views.

Communicating a Purpose

No product can ever sell without having a designed purpose. The CEO of Blackrock, Larry Fink, stands by this message, saying, “Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.” Public relations planning that grounds itself to the very purpose of the business is sure to reap steady leads.

Take Jollibee for one: being a homegrown fast-food chain, it shaped its brand to reflect a purpose greater than serving delicious fried chicken. When Filipinos flock to a nearby Jollibee branch, they think of the times they shared meals with their parents or hung out with their siblings before the new normal. The brand was able to relay a clear message for themselves that consumers can certainly get behind as they strive to make sense of what is happening at present.

2. Lazada Philippines’ ‘Lazada Super Party: Everyday Superheroes’ Campaign

Image taken from Lazada’s official Facebook page.

The next PR strategy on this list is the Lazada Super Party by Lazada Philippines. The e-commerce giant launched a star-studded virtual concert last year ahead of their ninth anniversary celebration. The event featured performances from international superstars such as Katy Perry and NCT Dream, as well as local artists such as Alden Richards, Christian Bautista, and Lovi Poe.

This campaign was set to end at midnight as the online retail platform commenced its Surprise Birthday Sale. Using the event slogan ‘Everyday Superheroes,’ Lazada paid tribute to the COVID-19 frontline workers and everyday individuals who have greatly served their respective communities during these difficult times. This, among many other PR strategies by Lazada Philippines, resulted in 38.3 million users by the end of the first quarter of 2021

Genuinely Connecting with Consumers

Apart from establishing a purpose, public relations campaigns should always attempt to create an authentic connection with existing customers and prospective clients. Every public relation officer knows that knowing your audience is a top practice. Conducting quality consumer research means identifying what excites them and targeting that aspect through direct interactions such as an everyday social media presence/digital public relations or even through mobile reach, which Jake Meador of Mobile Text Alerts considers a leverage for smaller firms to “own their audience.”

In the case of Lazada Philippines, they did so to their users by tapping into the familiar. They related to their audience by commissioning their favorite celebrities to speak on behalf of them. Seeing the growth in platform users of the company is a sign that, while the event may not have taken place physically, the audience recognized Lazada as a brand that identifies with their own interests.

3. Netflix Philippines’ Trese Campaign

Image taken from article, ‘Filipino anime ‘Trese’ conquers the Philippines with Netflix ad campaign via GIGIL’ on Campaign Brief Asia’s official website.

The Philippine arm of top content streaming platform Netflix released ‘Trese,’  a television series inspired by the comic books of the same name by Filipino writer Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo. The series revolves around the fictional story of a young detective named Alexandra Trese who solves supernatural crimes alongside her supernatural aides. Before its release, Netflix Philippines tapped Gigil agency to market the series to the local audience. The campaign reached out to thousands of Filipinos using a public relation strategy called guerrilla marketing, where unconventional tricks are used to elicit a surprise from potential consumers who encounter it.

For ‘Trese,’ Gigil does this by releasing billboard posters of the series, then changing them after a few days to a “tampered” version, with graffiti writing sprawled across the original poster. They also used the lighting on the windows of the ELJ building inside the ABS-CBN compound to spell out ‘Trese’, with the name of the building changed to ABC-ZNN in reference to the fictional media company in the series. Through this public relations campaign, ‘Trese’ became number one in the Philippines’ top 10 trending series, and it also topped in other countries such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Jamaica.

Using Multiple Media

With netizens seeing content after content on their timelines, brands need to set themselves apart from the competition by spanning across multiple media. And as humans are often visually stimulated, Public relations campaigns should be able to satisfy that desire as well. Netflix Philippines did so with ‘Trese’ as their strategy stirred social media conversations out of surprise. But in using this technique, make sure that the content remains the focal point and that the PR strategy is not merely done for shock value. Remember that the best public relations campaigns are done to bring light into an already dark situation for many Filipinos.

Going through these practices, you can really see how many of these companies have used the situation to their advantage. With the halting of the usual business routines, more often do you have to simply go back to the basics in order to craft a compelling PR strategy. Reflecting on your brand’s purpose and using those ideas to connect with your audiences through the use of aesthetic materials can help you not just survive but also thrive in any challenge that your business can encounter as you plant your feet firmly in the industry.

- Written by Jay-Ann Gutierrez

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