By RG Cruz – “The Philippines should be as easy to sell as Chickenjoy.” Advertising and Marketing Executive Ramon Jimenez said this as he faced the media for the first time as President Aquino’s new secretary of tourism. Jimenez faced Malacañan media with his predecessor Alberto Lim, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, and Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail valte for the first time Thursday.
In his address to the media, Jimenez stressed the guiding principle in his new role.
Jimenez added, “Maybe our approach to it is not simple enough. The best communication campaigns are hinged on simplicity of the proposition…It’s not all about infrastructure [but] more about the single mindedness of the image. The image of Mexico is very clear: you can see tacos, white-brimmed hats, ponchos even if all you said is Mexico. That hasn’t happened to our country yet.”
Jimenez said he will only succeed if he can rally the Department of Tourism (DOT), the bureaucracy in general, and the public at large around the idea that tourism is the people’s business.
“Ang turismo ay negosyo ng taong bayan. As such, it’s ultimate goal is not merely to improve statistics on tourist arrival. The target is to generate fulfilling income and employment for the people.”
Jimenez believes tourism is an area of endeavor where Filipinos tend to excel.
Jimenez thanked his predecessor “for preparing the way for a progressive and aggressive tourism industry.”
Not slogans but ‘strategic discipline’
Lim found himself in the middle of adverse public reaction after his agency prematurely launched the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” tourism slogan last year.
When asked about his own plans for the brand, Jimenez stressed that “advertising isn’t just about slogans, it’s about strategic discipline.”
Jimenez said he will study the resources he has and make a decision as soon as possible.
Jimenez said the country “has to have a competitive campaign based on a proposition that offers people real value for time and money.”
“What will you say to someone in Norway? To see gold fish swimming under the sea? You have to have a single-minded proposition that comes alive in his head and his mind. We have 7,107 islands, we can scarcely name all the beautiful things in it. Siguro we can find a proposition compelling-enough and competitive-enough job of turning that into a single slogan, sifting all of that and capturing it in 3 to 4 words. That’s gonna be serious work.”
He adds, “This is the most beautiful country in the world, one of the ten most beautiful countries in the world, there is no reason we won’t succeed.”
Jimenez said that as a marketing and communications man, he thinks the country needs real insight into the market place.
Needed: DOT sales force
The first order of the day for him is to galvanize the DOT staff into an “honest to goodness selling unit…Yun naman ang trabaho namin, tindero kami actually.”
Jimenez said, “I think, as in any industry or any group, you’ve got to get people to look at something larger than themselves, look at potential and opportunities. We can sit around here and quarrel about what we have now, [but] my job is to persuade everyone about what we have tomorrow.”
Jimenez pointed out the need to get people involved. “Look around you. Are people excited by tourism? Are we involved? Number one is get a product to believe in itself. Once we get people excited by tourism, they will attract the world”
Jimenez expressed hope he will be able to keep much of what his predecessor left behind. He also plans to study the National Tourism Development Plan.
‘Daang matuwid’ slogan
Jimenez, unknown to many, played a key role in the communications plan of Aquino’s 2010 presidential campaign. He downplayed this role though.
It is said he is the brains behind the ”daang matuwid” (straight road) campaign theme of the president. But Jimenez stressed that “No single person can claim credit for (it). The vision of straight road was his from the start. All we did was transform it into single minded idea that compelled people to vote for him.”
Jimenez hopes to bring the same skill to his new job. “That’s basically how communication works. You have a fundamentally core truth and somebody turns it into a proposition. People cannot refuse. Hopefully, that’s what people will do.”
When asked about his possible relationship with stakeholders in the industry, Jimenez said his family is very supportive of his new role, and he personally doesn’t mind the long hours of travel.
Carandang introduced Jimenez to the media.
Carandang said that since Congress is in session, Jimenez was appointed in an acting capacity since he still needs congressional confirmation.
Carandang noted that had Jimenez been appointed when Congress is not in session, he would have been given an ad interim appointment.
In his introduction, Carandang paid tribute to Jimenez’s background as an advertising and marketing executive.
Carandnag said Jimenez took his oath before Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa Thursday morning.
Jimenez and Lim have also been conferring to ensure a proper transition.