Vero Marks 2nd Anniversary in the Philippines with a Commitment to Authentic Sustainability Communications 

Vero Marks 2nd Anniversary in the Philippines with a Commitment to Authentic Sustainability Communications 

Vero Philippines sustainability

 

This month marks the second year of Vero’s operations in the Philippines, and we’re celebrating this significant milestone with a stronger commitment to advancing sustainability communications in the country. 

With the growing global focus on sustainability and the green economy, Vero is launching the Philippine edition of its “Greenwatching” sustainability playbook as well as an AI-based sustainability messaging tool to help businesses in the country combat greenwashing and craft authentic sustainability messages. 

Addressing greenwashing with a comprehensive playbook and a smart bot assistant 

According to the World Risk Index for 2022, which assesses the disaster risk for 193 countries, the Philippines is the most exposed to natural disasters. Despite this, the Philippines achieved a score of 41.9 on the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index, falling below the average of 44.1. These facts underscore the impact of the environmental crisis in the Philippines and the need for businesses and the government to fast-track the country’s green growth by adopting sustainable practices and policies.   

However, there are two relevant communications issues that demand urgent attention: helping Filipino businesses and consumers understand sustainability and addressing the prevalence of greenwashing, or the practice of presenting misleading, biased, or ambiguous information or claims in an organization’s sustainability messaging.   

In light of these challenges, Vero is launching the Philippine edition of its “Greenwatching” sustainability playbook, titled Tree Planting Is No Longer Enough: Advancing Authentic Sustainability Communication in the Philippines.” 

The playbook’s aim is to provide brands and communicators in the Philippines with guidance on identifying and addressing the pitfalls of greenwashing while encouraging the adoption of authentic sustainability messaging. It includes practical strategies that address the “7 Sins of Greenwashing,” which include No Proof, Vagueness, Worshipping False Labels, Irrelevance, Hidden Trade-Off, Lesser of Two Evils, and Fibbing, as well as local insights and case studies that demonstrate how businesses can use the framework to identify and rectify potential greenwashing in their own communications. 

“Communication professionals play a central role in curtailing greenwashing and sparking positive conversations that help fight climate change. At Vero, we wholeheartedly embrace our role as an agency to drive positive change in sustainability. Testament to this is being the first agency in APAC to sign the Clean Creatives pledge to refuse all work involving fossil fuel companies,” said Nicole Briones, Operations Director at Vero in the Philippines. “We see a growing demand for sustainable practices and the need to increase understanding and awareness of sustainability among businesses and consumers in the country. We believe actionable tools like the Greenwatching playbook can empower brands, communicators, and our own team to develop more authentic narratives about sustainability.”   

Aside from the playbook, Vero rolls out an innovative “Greenwatcher” AI chatbot, trained with the knowledge and framework for greenwashing analysis as outlined in the sustainability playbook. The Greenwatcher simplifies the complex task of identifying and addressing greenwashing in communications. It is powered by access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, where users can input prompts to help them analyze messages for potential greenwashing and receive recommendations on content revisions based on the guidelines provided in the playbook. The Greenwatcher is available for free here. 

Greenwatching in the Philippines Vero

Creating impactful work 

Beyond identifying areas where Vero can contribute to sustainability, the agency has also celebrated significant milestones in the past year that emphasized its dedication to supporting the growth of both global and local brands in the Philippines through effective and inspiring work. These accomplishments include: 

  • Harnessing AI’s potential to craft bolder narratives: Recently, Vero has introduced Rover, an AI-first PR agency focused on empowering brands across the region to tell more impactful stories through AI. Rover’s goals include accelerating team learning and amplifying human creativity in areas like influencer collaborations, marketing strategies, trend analysis, and immersive experiences. The agency places a strong emphasis on upholding ethical AI practices, maintaining transparency, fact-checking, staying informed about AI-related regulations and standards, and fostering collaborations with AI thought leaders to ensure responsible and effective use of AI in communications. 
  • Educating brands and communicators on evolving market trends: As part of its thought leadership efforts, Vero published a white paper that delves into the health and wellness habits of Filipinos. This initiative has been instrumental in providing brands and communicators with valuable insights into the ever-changing preferences of consumers regarding their diets and lifestyles. By sharing market insights, Vero aims to equip brands and marketers with the information they need to develop more effective strategies that resonate with their target audiences. 
  • Training the next generation of communicators in the Philippines: In the past year, Vero successfully concluded the first iteration of its nextGEN internship program, which saw five interns gaining real-world professional experiences and invaluable insights into the communications industry. The interns also had the unique opportunity to collaborate with WWF-Philippines, contributing creative ideas aimed at helping the organization more effectively fulfill its mission. 
  • Driving compelling stories for industry-leading clients: Vero had the privilege of crafting compelling stories for industry-leading brands such as Dell, Prime Video, Royal Canin, TikTok, and UNICEF. Throughout a busy yet fulfilling year, the team worked on diverse initiatives, including organizing a Manila food crawl to help grow TikTok’s food content category, hosting high-profile press conferences to spotlight Prime Video’s latest shows, crafting expert content and media events for Royal Canin to educate Filipinos on responsible pet ownership, and driving impactful communications to amplify UNICEF’s critical work in promoting children’s rights. 

“Over the past year, we’ve had the honor of running exciting and impactful campaigns that resonated with audiences and helped our clients fulfill their purpose. Looking ahead, we aim to continue pushing the boundaries of creativity and channeling our collective efforts into projects that not only communicate, but also inspire and make positive impact,” said Briones.

 

If you’re interested in knowing more about our work in the Philippines, email us at manila@vero-asean.com or you can fill out our Contact Form.

 

 Sustainability Philippines

In this Philippine edition of Vero’s greenwatching playbook, we look at the climate change awareness and sustainability efforts of Filipino brands and marketers.

Start experimenting and try calling out greenwashing through our Greenwatching AI bot. You can sign up here.

 

Climate change presents significant challenges for development in the Philippines, a nation aspiring to achieve upper middle-income status by 2025. In a survey conducted by the Social Weather Station in 2022, nine in every 10 Filipinos admitted that they are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.  

According to the World Bank, climate shocks, ranging from extreme weather events to gradual environmental shifts, have the potential to impede economic activities, impair infrastructure, and lead to profound social disruptions.  

The government has pledged a projected reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 75% for the period of 2020 to 2030 and has long required local governments to develop a local climate change action plan. However, the Philippines is heavily dependent on fossil fuels – the largest contributor to global climate change. This fossil fuel “addiction” is deterring the country from securing a livable and sustainable future for all. 

 

Philippines Climate Risk Profile

 

In this Philippine edition of the greenwatching playbook, Southeast Asia communications consultancy Vero identifies the major industries contributing to climate change in the country, tackles climate change awareness and actions through surveys and interviews, and offers a conceptual framework for Filipino brands and companies regarding authentic sustainability communication. 

 

Where the Philippines’ carbon emissions come from 

GHG emissions in the Philippines

 

The Philippines has not been a substantial source of greenhouse gas emissions historically, but it may contribute more in the future. The country had 1.6 tons of average per capita carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions in 2012, which is far below the global average of 6.5 tons, per data from the Asian Development Bank

Emissions are rapidly rising. Between 1992 and 2012, emissions rose 3% annually and, between 2006 and 2012, this growth rate accelerated to 4%. More than half of 2012 emissions were from the energy and transport sectors, and the energy sector has been the main source of emissions growth. 

The energy sector is recognized as a major contributor to the adverse effects of global climate change, and emissions are projected to quadruple by 2030. The sector faces the dual challenges of heavy reliance on fossil fuels and imported energy and high energy demand.  

 

How Filipino consumers and marketers see sustainability and their role in promoting it 

Survey - Sustainability Awareness 

Earlier this year, Vero conducted surveys and interviews with Filipino consumers and communication professionals to understand their perceptions and behaviors related to sustainability. 

Filipino consumers’ view on sustainability 

Among the participants surveyed, only 33% said they are active advocates of a sustainability cause or movement in the Philippines, with the majority contributing through volunteer work (such as community management, tree planting, and clean-up drives) and social media amplification (such as sharing posts related to the advocacy). 

But while only a few have active involvement in sustainability movements, 65% of respondents agree that companies and brands play big roles in promoting environment-friendly practices, as they serve as communication vehicles to aid in informing people about sustainability-related issues. Only 27%, though, believe companies are truthful about their initiatives, with the majority saying companies only ride on trends (38%) and fabricate results (22%). 

Perspectives of Filipino marketers regarding their contribution to sustainability 

Given the fact that consumers in the Philippines see brands and companies as “communication vehicles” about sustainability issues and initiatives, we interviewed marketing and communication professionals across industries. This approach aimed to gain comprehensive insights into their awareness and initiatives regarding sustainability. 

All seven interviewees have clear awareness of sustainability, saying it involves “reducing, reusing, recycling materials,” “maintaining a business process or model without depleting resources,” and “striking a balance between the environment and economy.” However, four of them admitted having no or little knowledge of greenwashing and greenhushing — two terms considered to be some of the biggest challenges to sustainability communications, as tackled in our Greenwatching Playbook published in May. 

 

Greenwashing and Greenhushing

 

Interestingly, only one interviewee said sustainability is deeply rooted in the core corporate values, while one said practices are limited to energy-saving and waste recycling. Some respondents added that they don’t put sustainability as a top priority since it’s not currently impacting their businesses. 

“Unfortunately, when our customers shop, they usually consider 1) design, 2) quality, 3) price first. Only after do they consider if it is sustainable or not. At the moment, our customers do not prioritize this important initiative,” said a senior marketing communications supervisor of a retail company. “Regardless of the indifference the market has towards this important topic, it should not stop marketers from talking about this truthfully, especially if it is part of the brand’s values.” 

 

‘Greenwatching’ in the Philippines 

One of the biggest struggles in mitigating the impacts of climate change and holding major GHG contributors accountable is the prevalence of corporate greenwashing. With brands in the Philippines racing to make their sustainability efforts heard and seen by consumers, many fall into the trap of using bold and grand statements in the way they communicate with stakeholders and the public, eventually (deliberately or not) ignoring authenticity and candor. 

In the Philippines, where tree planting activities are the go-to CSR practices for companies (mainly because they provide tangible proof and are good for photo documentation), sustainability practices are often made to sound grander than they truly entail. There have been several instances when private companies and organizations planted the wrong seedlings in the wrong areas or failed to seek recommendations from scientists and conservationist groups, rendering the activities not just ineffective but wasteful. This misrepresentation leads companies off track from the comprehensive, long-term strategies necessary for genuine sustainability.

 

Greenwatching Philippines

 

Several multinational companies with solid presence in the Philippines have been called out for greenwashing and false sustainability claims. In March 2022, activists sent plastic waste back to Nestle together with letters from youth demanding the world’s largest food and beverage company to move to truly sustainable packaging solutions and stop producing single-use plastics. 

Here are other examples of corporate greenwashing in the Philippines in recent months. We also tasked our ‘Greenwatching’ bot to assess specific communication materials by involved parties and determine whether they’ve committed the seven sins of greenwashing: no proof, vagueness, worshipping false labels, irrelevance, hidden trade-off, lesser of two evils, and fibbing. 

The Greenwatching is an AI bot built by Candide.Ai, based on OpenAI’s large language model and trained with specific knowledge and frameworks for greenwashing analysis synthesized in Vero’s sustainability playbook.  

Greenwatching bot

Meet our AI bot, Greenwatching, built by Candide.Ai, based on OpenAI’s large language model and trained with specific knowledge and frameworks for greenwashing analysis synthesized in Vero’s playbook.


1) Shell Pilipinas Corporation’s development of ‘nature-based solutions’ 

What’s happening: Shell Pilipinas Corporation, one of the largest petroleum companies in the country, announced in May its plan to develop “nature-based solutions” for the country’s environment and natural resources. 

What environmental activists say: This partnership may raise conflicts of interest, given Shell’s fossil fuel operations. Environmental activists called it “shameless greenwashing” and urged the petroleum company to stop its fossil fuel expansion and pay Filipinos reparations for losses and damages from climate impacts.  

What the ‘Greenwatching’ bot found based on the announcement released by Shell Pilipinas Corporation:  

No Proof: The communication provides some evidence to support the claims made, such as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between SPC and DENR, and the National Greening Program under Executive Order No. 193. However, it lacks specific details about the projects or initiatives that will be undertaken as part of the collaboration. 

Vagueness: The term “Nature-Based Solutions (NBS)” is defined in the communication as activities related to the protection and enhancement of natural ecosystems or projects that improve agricultural sustainability. However, the communication could provide more specific examples of what these solutions might look like in practice. 

Hidden Trade-Off: The communication mentions that SPC is “transforming its business to meet its target by avoiding and reducing emissions from its operations and from the fuels and other energy products it sells to its customers.” This could potentially be a hidden trade-off, as it does not specify how these reductions will be achieved and whether there will be any negative environmental impacts associated with this transformation. 

2) San Miguel Corporation’s “sustainable efforts” in building the New Manila Airport (NMAI) 

What’s happening: San Miguel Corporation released a conceptual master plan for its massive green-designed and future-ready aerocity development in Bulacan in 2022. The development is part of SMC’s Php740-billion New Manila International Airport project, which aims to boost national and local economies. SMC said the project reflects the vision of a modern Philippine city that provides built-in solutions to various socio-economic, environmental, and climate issues, and correct the mistakes seen in many urban developments of Metro Manila.   

What environmental activists say: Advocates dispute SMC’s green claims, particularly concerning the New Manila International Airport project, saying it “spells environmental disaster and fisheries collapse in the province.” The location of the airport is at risk for earthquakes since Manila Bay is surrounded by the Marikina Valley Fault System, the Lubao Fault in Pampanga, and the Manila Trench, which are potential earthquake generators. It is also at risk for subsidence, the sinking of the ground’s surface due to geologic or man-made activities, which is aggravated by excessive groundwater extraction. 

What the ‘Greenwatching’ bot found based on an announcement released by San Miguel Corporation

No Proof: The press release provides some evidence to support the claims made, such as the commitment to restore and rehabilitate the existing mangrove forest cover and clean the rivers surrounding the airport project. However, it lacks specific details about how these initiatives will be implemented and what their expected impact will be. 

Vagueness: The term “green urbanism” is used without a clear definition or explanation. This could potentially confuse or mislead readers. The press release also mentions that the airport city will utilize renewable energy and accommodate both traditional and alternative modes of transportation but does not provide further details on these aspects. 

Hidden Trade-Off: The press release mentions that the airport city will be properly zoned, with areas dedicated to various sectors, including agriculture and food production, logistics, health and wellness, aeronautics, finance, science and technology, commerce, residences, education, tourism, entertainment, recreation, and government. However, it does not specify how these zones will be developed in a sustainable manner and whether there will be any negative environmental impacts associated with this development. 

Why authentic sustainability communication matters 

The prevalence of greenwashing impacts how Filipinos now engage with brands and perceive sustainability, undermining genuine eco-conscious efforts and making it challenging for consumers to make informed choices. 

With consumer loyalty at stake, brands are now pushed to prioritize clear, transparent, and educative sustainability communication, and eventually bridge the gap between perception and reality. 

 

Greenwatching Philippines - Nicole Briones

 

All sustainability communication in the Philippines and elsewhere should start with a declaration of intent – what the company wants to achieve based on its capabilities and resources. Brands should prioritize transparently sharing information about their environmental, social, and economic efforts, ensuring they focus on substantiated claims rather than making assertions they cannot support. 

Genuine efforts, when communicated effectively, not only enhance consumer trust but also inspire active participation. Brands that embrace authenticity in their sustainability initiatives and openly communicate their progress are not only meeting consumer expectations but also shaping a brighter, more sustainable future. As consumer awareness grows, these efforts have the potential to drive widespread change and foster a society where sustainability is not just a buzzword but a collective commitment to betterment.

 

Greenwatching Philippines - Carla Moreno


Moreover, embracing authentic sustainability practices goes beyond mere consumer trust in the Philippines – it contributes significantly to a brand’s long-term viability and resilience. In an era where corporate social responsibility is under intense scrutiny, brands with genuine initiatives do not just survive; they thrive.

 

Employing greenwatching strategies for authentic sustainability in the Philippines

Effective sustainability communication is difficult — but essential. Between the liability of greenwashing and the temptation of staying silent on the topic, brands often find themselves standing at a crossroads. We listed some strategies for effective communication, aiming to equip brands and marketing professionals with the tools to bridge the gap between intention and action, and transform aspirations into tangible, positive outcomes for a greener future. 

Greenwatching in the Philippines

Set achievable goals 

One way to avoid the appearance of greenwashing is to choose sustainability goals that match your capabilities and ambitions. Here are a few ways to do so: 

  • Set measurable and relevant targets such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, plastic waste, or energy usage alongside social metrics. Such targets should come with clear steps to reach them. 
  • Communicate with simple, focused data points. Thick reports are good for diligence consultants, but most other stakeholders will not be able to digest uncontextualized, aggregated data. Select, organize, and prioritize salient science-based talking points to optimize the impact of your communication. Connect each project or action to specific targets and explain the relevance of those targets to the company’s business model. 
  • Incorporate sustainability metrics into performance evaluations. This will align the interests of executives with the company’s sustainability goals and ensure that they are held accountable for their performance. Major companies that have initiated such policies include Nike, Unilever, Ikea, Danone, and Vodafone. 
  • Turn leaders into advocates. Once sustainability metrics are incorporated into an executive’s career path, maximize their impact by engaging them in PR and thought leadership opportunities such as participation in industry panels and written or video content in trade media that shares their insights and expertise. 

Strategize internal change 

Companies often go through intensive operational transitions to comply with sustainable standards of business (e.g., B Corp, Fairtrade, LEED, Organic, Rainforest Alliance). These changes require sincere commitment, diligent planning, strong governance, and expert management. 

Frameworks of sustainable standards such as B Corp provide a roadmap for evolution, but doing so requires diverting efforts from profit-seeking, at least temporarily. Focusing on assessment, areas of improvement, and leadership engagement allows those efforts to be fast-tracked. 

Communicate with internal stakeholders 

Sustainability is probably on your employees’ minds, too. Empower them to participate by creating an internal communication and action framework that reflects the desired outcome. 

  • Educate employees about the areas where the company can make an impact. 
  • Inform & explain with clear, relatable goals and milestones. 
  • Engage employees with culturally relevant activities, measure their impact, and share it with everyone involved. 

Promote a sustainable ecosystem 

  • Adopt sustainable procurement practices to ensure you are purchasing goods and services that are produced in a sustainable manner. Transparency and sharing go a long way. 
  • Build Industries via cross-promotion. To accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices along the value chain, credit and promote the vendors who enable your sustainable operations. For example, sustainable a furniture brand can co-brand its marketing efforts with its fabric vendor when the latter has significant credentials and brand equity. 
  • Compete with products and services; converge with sustainable practices. 
  • Campaign and advocate. Partnerships do not just provide opportunities for employee engagement — they can also align strategically with your business objectives. 
  • Focus on societal issues that relate to your business and pay it forward by creating opportunities for future business through causes (e.g., promoting education sell books, women empowerment improves business performance, access to water reduces inequality and bringing more people into the economy.) 

Measure your impact — and report it 

  • Use third-party verification to receive a trustworthy endorsement that your sustainability claims are accurate, and your sustainability efforts are authentic. This can include certifications such as B Corp or independent audits like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards. 
  • Tailor your reporting and communication with company-specific highlights. Each company has a unique journey to becoming a sustainable business, so you should develop a singular narrative that weaves through both your corporate and consumer communications. 
  • Provide consumers with transparency regarding specific value points. 
  • Present stakeholders with stories of product development as an alternative to the traditional products and benefits pillars. 
  • Report successes, limitations, and failures with equal candidness.

RESEARCHERS:

Rae Cay
Digital Account Manager, Philippines

Kim Donato
Digital Account Executive, Philippines

Ronagella Gesultura
Associate Creative Director, Philippines and ASEAN

Charmaine de Lazo
Editor, ASEAN

Bernadette Torres
Writer, Philippines

 

The Greenwatching bot now! Or talk with our communication consultants to learn more about authentic sustainability communications through green-watching@vero-asean.com.

Rover - AI-first agency SEA

 

Vero, a leading communications consultancy in Southeast Asia, is today launching an AI-first PR agency called Rover. The new agency will act as an incubator for AI-powered brand campaigns and processes, producing work for new and existing clients and seeking partnerships with other AI-focused stakeholders in the PR industry, including AI-applications, trade groups, non-profits, academics, and thought leaders. It will operate alongside Vero’s existing offices in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.  

Vero has already integrated generative AI tools into its creative, content, data, and planning processes. The launch of Rover sees Vero invest further in AI capabilities to accelerate and diversify its internal learning and client offerings. 

Rover is spearheaded by Founding VPs Skylar Thwe and Hong Phuc Ngo and will launch with a collective of practitioners made up of consultants, creatives, planners, media relations specialists, editors, strategists, data analysts, and media buyers.    

Discussing Rover’s plans, Skylar says, “We believe that a dedicated AI agency built from scratch is the best way for us to accelerate our learning and to share it with colleagues and clients.” 

Rover provides a wide range of PR and Creative services for clients across sectors, leveraging AI-powered tools to improve workflow efficiency, digital content, and output accuracy.  The agency is also equipped to provide AI consulting and literacy training for brands seeking to embed best practices for AI within their organizations and in-house communications and marketing teams. 

“AI technology is now ripe. Brands using artificial intelligence to amplify human creativity are empowered to tell bigger and bolder stories, so PR and communications agencies must be fluent in AI to accompany their clients on this journey,” says Hong Phuc Ngo.

Rover founding VPs

Rover Founding VPs Hong Phuc Ngo and Skylar Thwe

Rover deploys AI productivity tools such as ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Firefly to accelerate and automate content creation across various media formats, including text, images, 3D videos, animation, voice synthesis, and music. These tools will enable copywriters, editors, and designers to create bigger stories with a more diverse range of styles, tones, and formats and reach more audiences in far less time.  

Additionally, audience analytics and consumer sentiment analysis tools break down extensive datasets into actionable segments that can be used to refine media pitches, messaging, and executive communications for Rover’s clients. These real-time insights enable prompt adjustments and enhance campaign ROI.  

Rover’s AI-driven methods further support improved influencer collaborations, marketing strategies, trend identification, and immersive experiences. Rover aims to provide safe and legitimate AI-enhanced work to the public and its clients by acknowledging the ever-evolving AI technology and PR landscapes. In doing so, it follows five guiding principles, including: 

  1. Ethical AI Practices: Commit to ethical AI use in PR and communication activities by respecting data privacy and consent standards and tracking AI tool providers’ progress in AI alignment and bias risk. 
  2. Transparent AI Utilization: Maintain transparency in the use of AI with clients and the public.  
  3. Fact-Checked Content: Ensure that all AI-generated content aligns with verified facts and accurate information. 
  4. Compliance and Regulation: Stay informed about AI-related regulations and compliance requirements, particularly those related to data privacy and disclosure in communications. 
  5. Partnerships and Collaboration: Explore partnerships with AI technology providers, academics, thought leaders, and non-profit organizations to effectively harness AI’s potential in enhancing PR and communications efforts. 

 


About Rover 

Rover, an affiliate of award-winning communications consultancy Vero, is an AI-first brand communications agency based in Southeast Asia, specializing in AI-powered public relations and marketing services across a wide range of industries in the region. Recognizing the transformative power of artificial intelligence in the communications industry, Rover combines emerging tools and human creativity to deliver innovative branding strategies, creative campaigns, critical data analysis and interpretation, public and media relations, and media buying. The agency operates alongside parent company Vero’s offices in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Rover is actively recruiting prompt specialists.  For further information on Rover, please visit www.rover-asean.com contact us at hello@rover-asean.com. Follow Rover on LinkedIn, too.

 

T-Wave

 

The world is going gaga over Thai influencers and entertainers. Now that the Korean “Hallyu Wave” has settled into a secure place in the global pop culture landscape, the Thai Wave (T-Wave for short) has emerged to introduce a new set of Asian cultural trends to audiences worldwide.  

As the influence of Thai entertainment stretches beyond its national borders, the T-Wave is captivating an international audience, inspiring cross-cultural exchange and a deeper appreciation for Thai artistry.

 

Introducing Thai culture through music

In April 2022, Thai rapper Milli’s historic performance at Coachella paved the way for Thai hip-hop music on the global stage — but Milli also ignited international interest in mango sticky rice when she ate a spoonful of the iconic Thai dessert between verses. Thai social media platforms were flooded with mango sticky rice recipes and memes, while online searches for “mango sticky rice” surged twentyfold, according to Google Trends. 

Following that viral moment, the Thai government pushed for the nomination of mango sticky rice to a spot on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Additionally, reports indicated a staggering 100-fold increase in the average sales of mango sticky rice in Bangkok by both traditional storefronts and food delivery apps like Grab Food. 

In another big moment for Thai music, 4MIX – a proudly LGBTQ+ band – is building a global fan base despite all their songs being in Thai language. Timeout names the band, which debuted in 2021, as part of a revival of Thai pop music (or T-pop) that is injecting fearless new energy into the scene. The band’s concerts in Mexico and Brazil last year drew massive crowds, and their debut single Y U Comeback has already amassed more than 17 million views on YouTube.

Is Thai pop an alternative to K-pop’s dominance? 

Thai pop music is rooted in cultural authenticity while also fearlessly embracing new sounds and melodies. Once dominated by traditional music played on local instruments, the music scene now echoes sounds and lyrics that resonate with a global audience. 

One of T-pop’ s strengths lies in its diversity. The genre embraces a wide array of musical styles, including hip-hop, indie, and experimental music, which helps it reach out to diverse demographics and inspire everyone to sing along. There’s also no shortage of talented singers and performers—from popular girl group 4EVE to indie pop star Phum Viphurit—recognized globally for their unique artistic visions. 

Thanks to the widespread reach of streaming platforms and social media, T-pop has been steadily gaining a global fanbase. Its success mirrors the trajectory of South Korean pop music while also offering a refreshing alternative for music enthusiasts. While K-pop is dominated by boy and girl groups, its Thai counterpart gives the spotlight to solo artists redefining the industry. It’s worth noting, though, that several Thai singers are now considered among the biggest K-pop stars, including Blackpink’s Lisa and GOT7’s BamBam, and their rise to international stardom has inspired Thai artists to aspire for global stardom. 

The surge in international attention has had a significant economic impact. In 2022, the Thai music industry surpassed the $100 million milestone for the first time, with global music labels Universal and Sony Music increasing their investments in the country. 

Series-Y and its bold defiance of social norms

Amidst Thailand’s traditionally conservative culture, the soaring popularity of the Boy Love genre – or Series-Y, as it is locally known – has emerged as a significant cultural shift. Breaking societal norms, these films and TV series have captivated audiences with their genuine and poignant portrayals of decidedly non-traditional relationships.

Series-Y content market was worth more than 1 billion baht (about 27 million USD) in 2021, with the key export markets including China, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Latin America, according to a report from Bangkok Post. And the business ecosystem linked to Y Series in Thailand is projected to grow by 30-40% per year.

The genre first gained significant recognition with the release of the critically acclaimed blockbuster “Rak haeng Siam” or “Love of Siam” in 2007. Widely regarded as a groundbreaking work, some consider it the pioneering Y-series. However, the industry witnessed a major turning point in 2014 with the series adaptation of the boys-love novel from Dek-D.com, titled “Love Sick: The Chaotic Lives of Blue Shorts Guys.”. This adaptation propelled the Y-series genre into the mainstream and captured the hearts of audiences both locally and internationally. 

But it was during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 that the genre saw a massive surge in popularity beyond Thailand. Bright Vachirawit and Win Metawin’s hit series “2gether” aired from February to May 2020, was Series-Y’s breakout show, amassing at least 100 million views on the now-defunct Thai streaming platform LINE TV. It found fans in socially conservative nations like China, Indonesia, and Latin America. The series also promoted South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines to try their hand at the genre.  

Here are a few Y-series actors who have gained extensive fan bases worldwide:

T-Wave BL actors

This phenomenon signals greater acceptance and empathy within Thai society regarding diverse identities and narratives. Internationally, the genre owes its success to the availability and accessibility of online streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube. These platforms bring the series to audiences far and wide, especially in China, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, creating a thriving community of fans interested in learning more about Thai culture and language.

Why Series-Y is a well-loved genre 

Thai Series-Y has become a global phenomenon, captivating diverse audiences with its engaging storylines that resonate deeply. Their authentic depictions of homoerotic relationships between male characters prove that romance, drama, and self-discovery have no boundaries. 

Moreover, many Series-Y are highly regarded for their production quality, featuring impressive cinematography, direction, and editing alongside the engaging performances of the Thai actors. 

Beyond their entertainment value, Series-Y creatively incorporates elements of Thai culture into their narratives, providing viewers with a fascinating cultural experience that highlights the uniqueness of Thai culture while promoting mutual understanding transcending geographic and language barriers. 

A Guide for Brands to Tap into the T-Wave 

There is a wave of interest and curiosity in Thailand’s culture and entertainment industry that brands shouldn’t miss. Here’s how you can successfully embrace the vibrant energy of this cultural phenomenon. 

Understand the Audience: Conduct market research to understand the target audience of the T-Wave cultural trend. This will help the brand tailor its content and marketing approach to meet the preferences and interests of audiences and consumers. 

Align with Brand Values: While it is easy to jump on the bandwagon, it is important to ensure that the content aligns with the brand’s core values and principles. This will help maintain consistency and authenticity in the brand’s messaging, rather than appearing as mere opportunism. 

Promote Diversity and Inclusivity: The T-Wave’s popularity can be attributed to its fearless take on diversity and inclusion, especially considering the prevalent discrimination and barriers to LGBTQ+ rights that the community still faces. Highlighting this fact – and incorporating it into the brand’s own culture – will draw consumer attention. 

Leverage Social Media and Online Communities: Much like the Korean Wave, it is the Internet that sets the T-Wave ablaze. It’s easy to find pockets of international T-Wave fans worldwide through social media and dedicated online communities. Chinese fans, for example, are said to be dominated by millennial females who can offer long-term support for their favorite actors and shows. 

Look out for promotional opportunities with T-Wave stars: Thai idols are cementing their well-deserved spot in show business, concert stages, fashion shows and brand partnerships. At the recently concluded Paris Fashion Week, luxury fashion house Dior’s star-studded guest list included the ever-so-classy Tu Tontawan and Series-Y favorites Apo Nattawin and Mile Phakphum. The Thai stars’ attendance generated significant buzz, earning Dior more publicity and media value. 

Engage with Influencers and Content Creators: Besides the artists themselves, brands can collaborate with influencers and content creators who have a strong affiliation with the T-Wave, similar to collaborations with game streamers. Their endorsement can help the brand reach out to the growing T-Wave fandom. 

Monitor Viewer Feedback and Adapt Content: Pay attention to viewer feedback and adjust content based on their preferences. This shows responsiveness and a commitment to meeting viewer expectations. 

Maintain Transparency and Authenticity: Be transparent and authentic in your brand’s approach to producing and promoting the thriving cultural trend. This builds trust with viewers and helps maintain a positive brand image.

 

Vero Case Studies 

It’s an exciting time to ride on the T-Wave. Recognizing the impact and growing influence of this cultural phenomenon, the Vero team has crafted campaigns spotlighting some of Thailand’s well-loved Series-Y stars. 

Gucci Beauty x Joong

T-Wave Joong

Vero recently worked with Thai mega-influencer Archen ‘Joong’ Aydin, who has 2.1 million followers on Instagram, on a pop-up event campaign for Gucci Beauty and King Power, which aimed to build enthusiasm for duty-free shopping. Joong’s throngs of fans attended the event daily, organically creating their own trending hashtag (#GuccibeautyxJoong), which accumulated over 8,800 tweets throughout the event.    

Joong starred in the hit Series-Y “Star in my mind” with Dunk Natachai, which immediately catapulted the two actors into super stardom. The series received positive reviews from fans all over the world, eventually leading to international fan meets called “Shining JoongDunk.” 

Nestle x Max and Nat

T-Wave

Vero collaborated with renowned Series-Y stars Max and Nat to endorse Bear Brand UHT Enriched Honey  

Throughout the one-month campaign, the video acquired a total of 58.2M impressions, 47.5M reaches, 615K engagements, 23M views, with an Average ER of 12.28%. Remarkably, 92% of the comments were positive, with fans eagerly expressing their enthusiasm to create their own DIY Bear Brand drinks. The stars engaged in lively interaction with their fans, while the giveaway attracted an impressive 300 participants, amplifying the brand’s presence and impact and proving the actors’ massive influence.  

Ready to ride the rising T-Wave? Let’s talk about collaborations and marketing opportunities in Thailand here.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Based in Bangkok, Raveepas Yenprapine is Vero’s IMC Strategic Planning Director. He leads some of Vero Thailand’s prominent accounts, including Nestle, Unilever, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. 

Navigating Consumer Anxiety - WARCxVero

Understanding the ‘why’ behind consumer anxiety allows brands to reinforce their relevance, and win loyalty and trust.

 

This article was originally published on Advertising Vietnam.

 

With the world still reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, food shortages, geopolitical challenges, and financial fragilities, the path toward global stability remains ambiguous. In Southeast Asia, while the economic outlook seems optimistic, threats to sustainable prosperity loom.   

This prolonged instability, referred to by economists as a “state of permacrisis,” directly affects consumers, who are the backbone of the economic system. As food and energy prices surge to near-historic highs and supply chain shortages continue, consumers are becoming more anxious than ever to navigate the financial challenges and make informed decisions about their spending and lifestyle choices.  

In a recent WARC Spotlight Southeast Asia series, our GWI research found that Asians are shifting their worries away from the pandemic to inflation-related concerns. According to a separate survey by Milieu, almost four in five of those surveyed in Singapore and the Philippines find life stressful, followed by Malaysia (61%), Thailand (59%), Indonesia (51%) and Vietnam (42%). Vietnamese consumers, specifically, named unemployment and economic recession among their top concerns. 

Notably, Gen Zs in the region are the hardest hit by mental health issues, with over a third (37%) saying they are prone to anxiety. In Vietnam, this number rises to nearly half (47%). Young as they may be, they worry about the type of future they’re heading toward. Global research by Deloitte revealed the top contributors to Gen Z’s feelings of stress: their long-term financial future (47%), day-to-day finances (42%), and the health/welfare of their family (42%).  

Consumer Anxiety - WARCxVero

But while the stress and anxieties are evident, the GWI study found that mental health issues remain taboo for most of Southeast Asia, with only 30% feeling comfortable talking about their anxieties openly. This number dropped to 24% among people living in rural areas, compared to 34% of those in urban contexts, potentially reflecting the different levels of awareness and acceptance in these communities. 

However, there is an increasing recognition and prioritization of mental health and well-being, especially among the Vietnamese (69%), Filipinos (67%), and Malaysians (58%). 

Navigating consumer anxiety
When consumer loyalty is tested, show them genuine value
 

These fears and anxiety put consumer loyalty to the test. When spending power is limited, consumers become more discerning about their purchases. They seek brands that offer genuine value, demonstrate empathy and agility, and take a human-centered approach over mere PR stunts. 

Understanding the ‘why’ behind their behaviors and decisions allows brands to connect on a deeper level with already-anxious consumers, reinforce their relevance through a new form of cultural value, and win loyalty and trust.  

Here are two ways for brands to win over and retain customers in this new cultural climate, helping to reduce consumer anxiety and sensitivity to prices.

  • Take a ‘life-centric’ approach: One of WARC’s Spotlight experts explores how brands can go beyond consumers’ immediate needs to consider how systematic challenges interplay in a consumer’s everyday lives, thereby increasing customer loyalty and lifetime value and expanding the brand’s relevance across multiple facets of a customer’s life. 
  • From ‘cost conscious’ to ‘quality confident’: Do not refer to your customers as “cost-conscious” because it only reinforces the feeling of anxiety and scarcity. How can you make customers feel like they are making smarter choices and reducing mental availability? Provide flexibility to communicate the multi-functionality of the product.

This is probably why gaming is becoming increasingly popular as an outlet to alleviate stress and anxiety. More than 50% of PC and console players in the region said they started playing games to satisfy their “need to relax,” a Google PC & Console Insights Report in 2022 showed.

 

Remember, customers want to ‘buy into’ not just ‘buy from’ the brand  

Branding creates emotional connections and influences perceived value. Brands are much more than logos or taglines; they are stories, values, and emotions – and these are what customers are drawn to. This becomes especially crucial during an economic downturn when consumer anxiety is more prevalent as they need to make tough decisions about allocating their spending.   

A strong brand can enhance the perceived value of a product or service. This can allow companies to maintain pricing and protect margins during an economic downturn. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci can still command high prices for their products even during recessions due to the perceived prestige and status associated with owning these brands.  

A local example can be seen in the Mercedes Benz Vietnam (MBV) approach. Recognizing the importance of both emotional connection and perceived value, MBV identified its next best customers for the C-class line. MBV notably shifted its campaign for the Mercedes C200 from the traditional “show-off” businesspeople in Vietnam to the younger aspirational generation of affluent consumers.   

The entire “This is my world” campaign served as a statement of ownership and self-expression, providing a new perspective on the role of the product for the customers. It was not just about owning a luxury car but about making a statement about their world and their place in it.  

 

Decode consumer conversations for authentic engagement 

The complex tapestry of consumer desires, preferences, and critiques in today’s digital landscape has reached social media. Enter social listening: tuning into these platforms to decode sentiments surrounding brands and trends. This tool empowers brands to monitor and dissect conversations and actively participate and resonate within these dynamic dialogues. 

As the digital chatter reflects evolving consumer perspectives, it’s crucial to note that Gen Z, a demographic with distinct needs and an amplified demand for brand accountability, drives a significant portion of this discourse. For instance, consider the phenomenon of “cancel culture,” wherein they collectively disassociate from individuals or brands linked to socially or morally unacceptable actions. Social listening emerges as an invaluable asset, offering a clearer understanding of this trend. 

Brands can further connect with these young consumers by immersing themselves in the consumer’s world to understand their lifestyles, motivations, and pain points. This could involve everything from ethnographic research, where observers are placed in people’s natural environments, to participating in online communities or forums where your consumers are active. 

To illustrate, the prevailing phenomenon of positive “flexing” among Vietnamese Gen Zs holds significant insight. The phrase “Flex đến hơi thở cuối cùng,” roughly translating to “Flex until your last breath,” has gained traction within the Vietnamese social media sphere. It characterizes the act of showcasing achievements, possessions, or lifestyle, often persevering even through challenges or to the point of exhaustion. 

Engaging with this cultural shift, brands can actively participate in relevant Facebook groups, gaining firsthand exposure to shared accomplishments, linguistic nuances, and community dynamics. The trend also signals a demand for products and experiences that embody excellence and possess a certain degree of prestige or ‘flex’ value. Brands can align with this movement by offering offerings that resonate encouraging consumers to proudly share their experiences on social media platforms. 

In the crucible of uncertainty, brands that make an earnest effort to comprehend the growing anxiety and shifting needs and emotions of consumers, thereby fostering a bond of trust and loyalty that transcends challenging times. Consumers are far more than mere data points or demographic segments; they possess the power to either uplift or undermine a brand’s reputation. Getting on their good side means survival. 

 

How Vero helped Mitsubishi Motors Resurrect the Notorious RALLIART CASE STUDY

The Brief

Mitsubishi Motors wanted to resurrect its notorious car racing brand, the RALLIART, which had historically won some of the toughest races in the world.

After more than a decade’s hiatus on the world stage, Mitsubishi Motors picked Thailand to be the first country the RALLIART would restart its engine once more!

Mitsubishi Motors trusted us to organize the comeback of the legendary brand at Thailand’s Motor Expo 2021 where top-tier media could witness RALLIART’s return as special edition models.

Mitsubishi motors and ralliart

Execution

Vero supported the press launch of RALLIART by retelling the memorable history of the victorious racing brand as well as recalling Mitsubishi Motors special and historical connection with Thailand and appreciation for Thais.

Our feeling was that the models needed to be seen in action, so three legendary models highlighting the past successes of the brand in both the commercial and motorsport world were showcased at the 38th Thailand International Motor Expo 2021. We prepped a Mitsubishi Motors representative to take the audience of the motor expo on a journey of RALLIART, detailing its brand-new product roadmap.

We also coached the CEO to give an interview at the end of the event where a media Q&A session also took place to make sure the DNA and message of RALLIART was heard.  

THE RESULT
213
Publications
$1.2
million USD in PR Value
104
total media attended

#SAVERALPH CASE STUDY

The Brief

HSI (Humane Society International) is an NGO that promotes the human-animal bond, rescue and protection of animals and wildlife, and works against cruelty to animals in all forms.

How #SaveRalph Raised Awareness of Cosmetics Testing on Animals in Southeast Asia
The #SaveRalph campaign tells the story of a rabbit named Ralph, whose job is to have human cosmetics tested on him in a laboratory. His painful story is brilliantly told in a 4-minute stop-motion animated video directed by Spencer Susser (The Greatest Showman), with the voices of Taika Waititi, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, and a few famous Hollywood stars. It highlights the cruelty of testing on animals, which is legal in all the target countries, and positions Ralph’s suffering as representing thousands of animals.

HSI launched the campaign with the main video ‘Save Ralph’ and followed it with amplification from KOLs and media. The campaign focused on 16 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations.

Execution

How #SaveRalph Raised Awareness of Cosmetics Testing on Animals in Southeast Asia

Vero was in charge of helping HSI amplify the campaign in nine SEA countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Brunei. We helped kick off the campaign by publishing the main ‘Save Ralph’ video on social media, followed by the local and regional media pitches and KOL amplifications.

For English-speaking countries like Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines, Vero pushed out original content from HSI, while in other markets we localized it to varying degrees. As it was a global campaign, HSI needed to make sure all the key messages around the world were unified and consistent, so we followed their content plan.

For press releases, we had more control over messaging, so we adapted and amended the messaging from their global releases to better fit each region and added relevant data for each country.

HSI conducted KOL engagement in the Vietnamese market only, as they considered it a key influential market, so we had local celebrities dub over the original Save Ralph video and amplify it on social media.

How #SaveRalph Raised Awareness of Cosmetics Testing on Animals in Southeast Asia

Regionally, HSI collaborated with one of the voice actors, Maggie Q, to create a short message video for which Vero provided direction and guidelines.

Thailand is a market with many local cosmetic brands who chose to promote the HSI campaign to differentiate themselves from international brands that engage in animal testing. Many skincare and cosmetics brands responded, claiming their products are cruelty-free. Animal lovers in Thailand even did extensive research on international cosmetic brands that test their products on animals and called out them on social media

How #SaveRalph Raised Awareness of Cosmetics Testing on Animals in Southeast Asia

In the Philippines and Malaysia, Vero targeted both males and females from metro and peri-urban cities who have modern lifestyles and are digital natives. They engaged with the ad post well and shared it across their social channels.

The media in the Philippines that picked up the news were from top tiers and have huge readership and subscribers, so the average value of advertisement and PR for those outlets was especially high.

How #SaveRalph Raised Awareness of Cosmetics Testing on Animals in Southeast Asia

The video caused a stir among the public and generated millions of views across the region, spawning organic conversations which spread on social media and continued to draw engagement for over two months. It hit 56M video views on TikTok and inspired 18 top influencers to voluntarily endorse it. We managed to generate over $2M worth of PR value, with 42% of the coverage by tier 1 media in the region.

The strongest response was in Thailand, with 157 pieces of coverage, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam, with 49 and 42 pieces of coverage respectively.

It even spread to Myanmar, which was not a target market, as some beauty bloggers there followed the lead of those in Thailand to speak out about the issue.

Of the target markets, only Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia are places where social issues are often publicly discussed and critiqued. Therefore, it was surprising to see that all markets engaged well with the campaign – except Singapore. While people in most markets engaged with the launch video, shared it, and talked about it online, most Singaporeans who watched the launch video did not react, respond, share the content, or engage in conversations on the topic. The cost-per-click for reaching out to people to sign the petition was the highest in Singapore. Thus, we became aware of how difficult it can be to gain the interest of Singaporean consumers when it comes to cause-based marketing.

THE RESULT
341
Publications
$2,187,382
PR Value
56M
+Views on Tiktok

UNITED TASTES CASE STUDY

The Brief

American agricultural products such as dairy, grains, vegetables, and beef, can be considered higher quality, premium options in the Vietnamese market.  

The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service assigned Vero a mission to create an umbrella brand that would help bring US products together under one master name and convey their superior quality by addressing the negative image traditionally associated with the US Food products. 

Execution

Our creative concept: Introduce a new image of US Agricultural products as high-quality, nutritious, healthy, and deliciousThe brand we created, United Tastes, stands as an ambassador for a healthy American diet inspired by the United States’ cultural diversity. It is the home of distinctive yet diverse cuisine from the USA. 

United Tastes

Sub-text: ” The US has long been known as a melting pot” of culture. Taking that as an inspiration, we used salad bowl to represent a nutritious dish with a variety of premium ingredients – a refreshing representation of colors, tastes, and aromafrom various ingredients working together harmoniously. 

United Tastes

The ingredients complement one another while retaining their distinct qualities. Similarly, American cuisine is a mixture of the culinary contributions of various cultures from around the world whose culinary worlds coexist while remaining distinctive. ​  

We built the brand’s home on a dedicated website, then brought it to media and stakeholders with a unique launch event at the American Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and local media. 

United Tastes

The launch event emulated a farmer’s market with US trade representatives showcasing whole, delicious American products for media to try. It also served as a diplomatic venue for the US government and its trade representatives to present the United Tastes project and American agricultural products’ unique attributes.  

We also leveraged the event to launch the brand’s social channels, premiering a Facebook Live cooking show where the American Consul General in Ho Chi Minh city, Mrs. Marie C. Damour, re-visited her childhood dishes with a local chef. 

United Tastes

Post-launch, our teams maintained momentum through dedicated social strategies – engaging with fans, influencers, and student organizations on social platforms and communities to spread the word about United Tastes. Throughout 2021, we also coordinated with US trade cooperators to leverage the new brand as a hub for their messages. Together with Vero, the USDA and their stakeholders have been working on Trello – a co-working space to contribute ideas, co-develop campaigns, and update related projects.  

United Tastes

We reached end consumers and engaged in conversations with them through ongoing social content, monthly minigames on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and regular blog posts on the United Tastes website. In addition, we supported other USDA stakeholders with their seasonal promotions through content creation and influencer engagement via United Tastes platforms.  

THE RESULT
4K
Followers
1.7M
Page Reach

Philippines media landscape in 2023

The Philippine media industry has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, as digital and social media have taken center stage.

Boasting a population of 100 million plus, the Philippines has become a prime target for brands, businesses, and advertisers, cementing its status as one of the leading markets in Southeast Asia.

Although traditional media, such as broadsheets, remain the most credible source of information for Filipinos; digital media is on the rise with an increasing number of Filipinos turning to the internet for news, entertainment, and information. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have become essential tools for communication and expression, with millions of Filipinos using these platforms daily. 

Traditional vs. Digital – What are the Key Channels in the Philippines?

Traditional media, such as print, television and radio, still play an important role in the Philippines, with daily broadsheets being the most important medium to the general public as they provide in-depth coverage of both local and international events.

What are the Key Channels in the Philippines?

However, with digitalization becoming more popular than ever, it is no surprise that traditional media outlets are also making their presence online to stay connected to their audience. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of the Philippines’ biggest media outlets, is now driven by its digital version, Inquirer.net with approximately 165,877 daily pageviews and remains one of the top online channels in the country.  

Magazines are also able to retain their popularity with the help of digitalization. E-magazines have become one of the go-to sources of information for Filipinos to get updates on what is trending. 

Additionally, television and radio also remain popular in the Philippines. There are now about 227 T.V stations and more than 700 radio stations across the country. For example, the gigantic GMA Network’s combined people net reach, including GTV and its other digital channels, is 78 million viewers, with an audience share of 59.5 percent of the total population in 2022

It’s worth mentioning that social media has also become increasingly popular in the country. Almost 50 percent of Filipinos now use social media as a source of news and of course, entertainment. As of January 2023, there is now around 90.2 million Facebook users in Philippines, around 42.8 million users on TikTok, followed by approximately 19.02 million users on Instagram. 

The rise of digital media has created opportunities for new formats in the Philippines. Streaming services, such as Netflix, iFlix, and Bilibili have become popular in the country, offering a wide selection of movies, TV shows, and documentaries. Online video and community platforms, such as YouTube and Bilibili, have also become important sources of content, with many Filipinos turning to these channels for their favorite content creators and personalities. 

“Filipinos are avid online content consumers. With up to 96 percent of the population watching their favorite TV shows on streaming services such as Netflix each month, it has surpassed the global average of 90.9 percent, and is currently leading the world in vlog watching and playing video games.” said Rae Cay, Vero’s Digital Account Manager. “From here, subcultures like the ACG (Animation, Comics, and Games) community have grown from a niche interest to mainstream in the country.” 

Securing earned media coverage: What gets picked up easily?

Earned media is essential for building brand awareness, establishing credibility, and reaching a wider audience. However, with so much competition for media attention, it can be challenging to get your story heard. Here are some key topics that are most likely to get picked up easily by the media in the business, lifestyle, health, and tech sectors.

Business:

    • Market Entry and Expansion: News of a company entering or expanding in the Philippine market is a hot topic that journalists are likely to cover. This is particularly true if the company is a well-known brand or if the market entry represents a significant investment.
    • Revenue Disclosure: Companies that are transparent about their revenue and financial performance are more likely to receive media coverage. This is because journalists are always on the lookout for stories that can provide valuable insights into the financial health of the country’s economy.
    • PO Announcement: Product or service announcements are always a good opportunity to get media coverage. Journalists are interested in learning about new and innovative products and services, especially if they have the potential to disrupt the market or change the way people live and work.
    • Corporate Partnerships: Joint ventures, strategic partnerships, and other collaborations between companies are also newsworthy. These types of stories are interesting to readers and can demonstrate the strength of your brand and its partnerships.
    • Personnel Appointment: The appointment of key personnel, such as a new CEO or CFO, can also be a source of media attention. Journalists are interested in learning about the background and experience of the new leader and what changes they may bring to the company.

Lifestyle:

    • New Product Launches and New Places: Consumers are always interested in new and exciting products and places, so news of product launches or new store openings is likely to get picked up by the media.
    • Collaborations: Collaborations between brands, especially in the fashion and beauty sectors, are also newsworthy. These stories often generate interest because they showcase new and innovative products and services.
    • K-Wave: The K-Wave, or Korean cultural wave, is a growing trend in the Philippines. Stories about K-Pop, Korean dramas, and other Korean cultural exports are likely to get picked up by the media, especially if they are tied to new product launches or events.

Health:

    • COVID-19: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a significant amount of media interest in the health sector. News about the latest developments from the pandemic, as well as measures being taken by the government and private sector to combat the virus, are likely to receive media attention.
    • Medical Breakthroughs: Stories about medical breakthroughs, such as new treatments or cures, are also newsworthy in the health sector. Journalists are interested in covering these types of stories because they can have a significant impact on the lives of many people.

Tech:

    • Data-driven Consumer Insights: Companies that use data to gain insights into consumer behavior and trends are likely to receive media coverage. Journalists are interested in learning about innovative uses of data and how it is being used to drive business decisions.
    • New Product Launches: News of new product launches, especially in the tech sector, is always of interest to journalists. Whether it’s a new smartphone, laptop, or other consumer electronics, these types of stories are likely to receive media attention.

Securing earned media coverage: What gets picked up easily?

 

Events

On top of that, if your brand is running an event, we suggest using the four key strategies below to get your media coverage.

    • Save the Date/Event Line-Up: The first step in getting your event picked up by the media is to announce the date and line-up as early as possible. This will give journalists time to plan their coverage and ensure that they have the information they need to write about your event. It’s also a good idea to provide a brief overview of what attendees can expect, such as keynote speakers, entertainment, and other highlights.
    • Pre-Event Announcements: As the event approaches, it’s important to make additional pre-event announcements to build excitement and anticipation. This can include reminders about the event date and line-up, as well as updates on any new or exciting developments. You can also reach out to journalists to offer interviews or behind-the-scenes access to the event.
    • Post-Event/Event Wrap-Up: After the event has taken place, it’s important to follow up with the media to share highlights and wrap-up information. This can include photos, videos, and testimonials from attendees, as well as a summary of what took place. This will give journalists the information they need to write a comprehensive story about your event.
    • Event Sponsors and Participation: Finally, it’s important to highlight the event sponsors and participants. Journalists are interested in learning about the companies and organizations that are involved in the event, and how their participation contributes to the success of the event. This information can also be used to demonstrate the strength of your brand and its partnerships.

Whether it’s a corporate conference, a product launch, or a cultural festival, these suggestions will help you get the coverage you need to reach a wider audience.

the four key strategies below to get your media coverage.

Creators 

Local media outlets often prefer to write about content creators with a high following and engagement, or content that recently became viral. They are seen as celebrities in the Philippines, and stories about their life achievements, such as buying a house, getting married, or having a baby, are often under Entertainment news.  

Media and Community Engagement

In the Philippines, media and community engagement activities have grown in recent years, creating opportunities for brands and businesses to connect with their target audience and build stronger relationships.  

“One of the key benefits of media and community engagement activities is the opportunity to connect and address the unique needs of different communities, helping to build trust and establish a positive brand image.” said Nicole Briones, Vero’s Operations Director in the Philippines. “In 2022, our team in Manila created a very fun and engaging IMC campaign to launch Duolingo’s Filipino to English language course in the country by engaging them in a duet challenge. This campaign was a success because we were able to tap into Duolingo’s spirit of fun, as well as Filipinos’ love for karaoke.” Read the case study of the campaign here


In 2023, there are several potential media engagement opportunities that brands can consider to drive impact and increase visibility. 

  1. Personalized Gifts: Celebrating birthdays and anniversaries of key media influencers and journalists can help to build strong relationships with them. Brands can personalize gifts to show appreciation for their work and make a lasting impression.
  2. Explore branded media content: Investing in branded content with media publishers can help increase brand awareness and reach a wide audience. Advertorials can be used to share brand stories and communicate key messages to the target audience. 
  3. Lunches/Coffee Sessions: Organizing lunches or coffee sessions is an excellent opportunity to foster face-to-face relationships and build credibility. 
  4. Thematic Watch Parties: This is a great activity to engage with influencers and their followers, as well as the public. This can be a fun way to get people talking about a brand and its products and/or services, while also providing an opportunity to drive conversations and increase brand awareness. For example, earlier last year, Vero helped boost Bilibili’s social media growth in the Philippines by working with Andre Knite (they/them) to throw a watch party on Bilibili Philippines Facebook page and was able to reach more than 500,000 people on the platform without any paid ads. Learn more about the campaign here

The Need for Discernment in the Digital Age: A Challenge

Despite all the opportunities that the local media brings, the country still faces major challenges when it comes to disinformation and fake news.  

The Philippines is among the countries with the lowest trust levels in the news, with a significant decline in the overall trust in mainstream news. This is partly due to the head of state, President Rodrigo Duterte, who has continued to make threats and insults against media companies known for their critical reportage. As a result, many journalists and media outlets are facing charges from high-profile state functionaries and government agencies. Social media is also overwhelmed with posts trying to discredit both mainstream and alternative media as credible sources of information.  

Furthermore, the vaguely worded provisions in new Philippine laws define “terrorism” and “fake news” in broad terms, creating an atmosphere of fear for journalists. Despite the tradition of watchdog-adversarial journalism in the country, the Philippine media landscape is struggling to function as an increasingly militaristic approach to governance erodes media freedom. 

“Filipinos are increasingly wary of the proliferation of fake news on the internet, with over half of social media users showing concern about the veracity of information. The results of a Pulse Asia survey in September 2022 found that 68 percent of adults encountered false political news on the internet, and 67 percent on television.” said Bianca Balderas, Vero’s PR Manager. “As people become more discerning in their use of digital technology, it is crucial to be responsible and diligent in verifying information before consuming or sharing it online.” 

Need more insights for your campaign in the Philippines? Contact our expert team at manila@vero-asean.com or fill out our Contact Form to discuss more.