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Campaigns from the Philippines That Tell the Tale of the Country's Pandemic Experience


BBDO Guerrero’s ECD tells LBB’s Natasha Patel about shifting from ads to acts and creating campaigns for the greater good

Campaigns from the Philippines That Tell the Tale of the Country's Pandemic Experience
BBDO Guerrero’s ECD Federico Fanti looks at the advertising scene of the Philippines as two halves of a whole: pandemic and post-pandemic. Having seen consumers shift their interests away from OOH advertising to more digital, Federico's intent to add and integrate a more interactive approach to the classic media was given a chance now.

“The silver lining of the new normal in the Philippines is that the pandemic pushed the clients and agency to speed up a little bit on digital transformation. Digital platforms now can be finally used as a proper interaction with audiences.

“The other upside of the new normal is that the pandemic pushed clients and the agency to acknowledge that the role of advertising has a greater responsibility with our society nowadays. So this is why we need to shift the beat of our mindset from creating ads to creating acts.”

And while much to do with creativity and advertising was up in the air, Federico and his team flexed their creative muscles to work on a series of campaigns during the period of uncertainty that would benefit others.

The first such campaign was the GIF Learning Library that the team at Guerrero created with Facebook, The Child Rights Network and Stairway Foundation. The GIF-animated stories were created for lockdown, under lockdown with the aim of re-imagining stories through GIFs that encourage children to stay safe at home and online.

Federico explains where the idea first came from: “When the pandemic hit the Philippines, the lockdown happened very quickly without time to fully absorb the situation. Implementation was so strict we could not even go for a walk outdoors. If all these limitations were already difficult for grown-ups/adults, imagine how emotionally hard it is for children to cope without outdoor activities, going to school and playing with their friends etc.”

The team decided to use their powers to help grown-ups explain the situation to children and eventually branched out into creating an online safety series. “This was an overlooked literary necessity as a direct consequence of having to stay home has drastically increased Internet usage. We felt this urgently required parents and teachers to educate children on its safe use.” Federico explains that his team used “gentle animation designed for young children” to animate well-known children’s books.

While the idea was bold, the production process required a lot of nifty techniques. Federico explains: “We crafted each page by tediously layering sticker upon sticker to create a scene for every page. This meant a lot of pre-planning had to go into the creation of the book. We could not afford sudden changes because each page had to be manually made and uploaded, in sequence on the day of the launch.”

The end result has been a “fulfilling” project for all involved at BBDO Guerrero with much praise reviewed from parents and teachers around the world and now there are plans to expand the project to creating more storybooks, quizzes and flashcards. 

Re-imaging stories in GIF format isn’t where BBDO Guerrero stopped and in another project titled Font Books they worked with The Reading Association of the Philippines to add custom fonts to novels.

The project began with eight well-known novels: Moby-Dick, The Metamorphosis, The Time Machine, The Kama Sutra, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Secret Garden, A Princess of Mars, and Peter Pan and has since branched out to many others. And while this novel was launched just before the pandemic took over, it was the perfect opportunity to use the time at home to reacquaint with the classics. 

Federico explains what the idea behind the project was and how he hopes it's taken forward: “We hope Font Books sparks renewed appreciation for these great books and reading in general. Design allows people to see how reading isn’t just text on a page, but an experience of stretching the mind to enter a world imagined by both author and reader.” 

The GIF Learning Library and Font Books were two educational projects relevant for learning during lockdown, but perhaps the most challenging project for the team was one that has been two years in the making and is designed to half the spread of fake news

Stop The Spread is the oldest of this trio of projects but for Federico it is the most relevant. “It’s always very topical and relevant, because now more than ever we need to be aware of misinformation and how to detect false information is vital during this dreadful pandemic.”

BBDO Guerrero teamed up with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility to launch the campaign on Facebook to warn internet users about the spread of false information. 

The team developed a solution that can work on mobile devices and the result is a Facebook chatbot that is able to check if news is from a suspicious source. Users can submit links that the chatbot can check based on various factors such as bylines, photo credits, and publishing date among others. Better known as the Fake News Fly the team used the motif to create a short filming showing off how fake news can spread – and fast.

Federico explains where inspiration came from: “When we were researching about false information, we saw how quickly false information can pop up from out of nowhere, how quickly it multiplies, how fast it can spread, and how it can start as something inconsequential to being potentially fatal. We realised it behaves exactly like a fly. So our design identity was heavily inspired by this unsuspecting but dangerous insect.”

He reflects upon the Philippines’ battle against fake news throughout the elections and national calamities that have become more of a “sinister” thing than just mild annoyance. “When we started Stop the Spread, we started with a tool that blocks false news from appearing on people’s feeds. As we went through development, we realised that it wasn't as simple as that. We couldn’t act as the only filter for false information. It wasn’t up to us to dictate what should be blocked. It was up to the readers to discern what identifies as false information based on their most common signs. So we made this educational campaign to teach people to identify false information on their own and learn its scope and consequences. That way we solve the problem in a deeper and more effective way.”

The project has evolved to a webinar highlighting how false information during Covid has exploded and with BBDO Guerrero speaking to international markets to see how this model could work around the world, hopefully they are one step closer to fighting the fake news pandemic.

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BBDO Asia, Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:56:28 GMT