Wrapping Up in Manila

How the Philippines Has Made Mobile Marketing More Than Just About Cellphones

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Back before cellphone advertising, when the Philippines hadn't yet earned the title of SMS capital of the world, trucks and vans of varying sizes lorded over the world of mobile marketing here. Hundreds of logos were brandished on the vehicles' back and side panels. Marketers' products and brands followed consumers everywhere and they reached innermost city alleys and far-flung towns.

As new printing technology dawned and photography with tastefully done art direction became the standard, things started to look better. Digital enhancements became common. Food shots made you drool and lured everyone out of their homes. Fast food and restos became giant kitchens for families, schoolmates and office buddies -- down to ordinary Juans. Colas made you smile and thirst for more. Celebrities were born, and some reborn with newly found fountain-of-youth. Alas, digital printing made everyone look beautiful, food and drinks delectable and advertisers profitable.

Edsa, the famous highway where People Power changed the political landscape in the mid-1980s is now a kaleidoscope of colors. Where boring JD and DM buses plied the route for many years, there is now a palette of refreshing crimsons, yellows, oranges, purples, blues and greens of varying tones, a riot of colors brought to life largely because of one idea: the wrap.

Certainly not a crap idea, wraps are cost-efficient, peelable, detachable, large-format, digitally printed advertising created for moving vehicles. Functional as they are, they even protect moving vehicles from the elements, a welcome sign in a country often frequented by howling typhoons.

On an ordinary day, hundreds of thousands of urbanized Filipinos are exposed to ad messages and brands when and where traditional advertising cannot. In a single month, that could count to millions. In a single year, that could sum up to tens of millions of captive audiences that can't help but be receptive.

This doesn't include bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hours, an almost daily occurrence in the city. Which explains why advertisers see the colors of money in moving vehicles down to Manila's MRT and LRT trains.

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