MANILA MARCH 19, 2007 (STAR) BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET By Wilson Lee Flores - (Marketing is merely a civilized form of warfare in which most battles are won with words, ideas and disciplined thinking. — Albert W. Emery)

Although a lot of clowns, comedians and crooks — who call themselves politicians — conspire to make our elections into a circus, I prefer to observe its dynamics as a sort of marketing war. Which ones are doing well, which ones are losing and why?

• Loren Legarda — She is very media savvy, coming out with well-designed, nice-looking and nice-sounding TV and radio commercials. Her use of a well-loved folk song — in which the words are changed to "Loren-Loren Sinta" — is a stroke of marketing genius. At a recent dinner dialogue on socio-economic issues organized by Anvil Business Club leaders at Shangri-La Makati and attended by other top business leaders of other groups, Legarda humbly said that topping the popularity surveys should not result in complacency. She pointed out that despite people always saying that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is unpopular, at one time, GMA topped the senatorial elections. Legarda said she works hard daily, disregarding polls, even if they show her as No. 1.

• Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan — This lawyer comes across as a nerd, with his clean-cut looks, light-colored polo shirts and eyeglasses, which are actually reassuring in a field full of gangster-looking candidates and clowns. His campaign ingeniously capitalizes on his not-so-secret weapon, "Megastar" wife Sharon Cuneta, who’s come out in TV commercials endorsing Kiko.

His survey ratings have been high, once even coming out at No. 1, but he has to be extra careful, because an independent senatorial bet winning in Philippine elections is quite rare. Even current Vice President Noli de Castro, when he ran as an independent, actually got the support of both President Joseph Estrada and the other political camp at the time, unlike Kiko Pangilinan who is boldly running without alliances with either Team Unity of GMA or the Genuine Opposition. At a dinner dialogue with the Anvil Business Club, Kiko shared his socioeconomic advocacies and campaign strategies but my unsolicited advice for him is to sustain his TV/radio commercials with wife Sharon endorsing his proven public service track record.

• Allan Peter Cayetano — One of the most potent users of TV commercials among our politicos is this opposition bet, using footage of congressional hearings in which he questioned the First Gentleman, leaving an unforgettable impression on a public bored by so many corny and boring political ads. Will his savvy marketing tactics be able to overcome the monkey wrench of a nuisance candidate on the ballot and make voters write out his full name?

• Panfilo Lacson — Sure but steady seems to be the campaign strategy of this opposition leader. His TV commercials are well-made, subtle and not hard-sell in style. Unsolicited advice: I think it could help a bit if he jazzed up his commercials with Loren Legarda-type showbiz appeal and bouncy music that can be paired with singing and dancing.

• Chiz Escudero — One of the more savvy users of mass media is this opposition bet, targeting the huge youth vote out there with upbeat and trendy MTV-like commercials depicting Chiz as one of the young generation. Cannily, both Chiz and Kiko even asked Mother Lily Monteverde to endorse them to the showbiz media and the masses.

• Prospero Pichay — Lacking popularity and telegenic looks, his TV commercials are unexceptional but he has a cute and hard-to-forget tagline: "Pichay, Itanim sa Senado." This pro-masses tagline reminds one of the winning tagline of Senator Mar Roxas as "Mr. Palengke." His "pro-Pinoy" tagline, trying to rhyme with his name "Prospero," sounds corny, though; he should just pour all his money into the vegetable-planting tagline.

• Edgardo Angara — Despite controversies raised by the Genuine Opposition and a counter-information campaign against him, Angara has very well-made TV commercials.

• John Osmeρa and Joker Arroyo — Two of the simplest, no-frills and low-production-budget TV commercials out there — which I still find quite effective — are by John Osmeρa and Joker Arroyo. They simply focus on the issues that they advocate.

• Ralph Recto and Tessie Aquino Oreta — I haven’t seen the Ralph Recto TV ads, and I think he is a highly intelligent senator, but I heard negative comments about his tagline of "Co-Recto" as corny or not rhythmic enough to the musical ears of the Filipino public. I suggest that Recto come out with more Kiko-type TV commercials with his wife Vilma Santos endorsing him. On the other hand, the Tessie Aquino Oreta TV commercials with the school kids look really bland, boring and unimpressive.

• Bayan Muna — I salute the leftist commissars of Bayan Muna, Gabriela and other party-list groups for their effective use and ingenious mastery of the modern mass media. They even managed to post videos of fugitive Satur Ocampo on the low-cost, trendy and high-tech YouTube website, espousing his advocacies and making devastatingly effective critiques of the government and the military.

The leftist groups are adept at riding the waves of news headlines, grabbing free publicity on TV, radio and other news media, which would have cost candidates many millions. The Bayan Muna model of marketing is guerrilla style and cost-efficient, while the Prospero Pichay style uses conventional warfare of throwing money at the problem.

President GMA, for your own prestige and for the sake of our now faster-growing economy, I advise you to immediately fire the Justice Secretary, the political advisers or any other military cabal that dumbly and crudely counseled you to go after the leftists now. This wild goose chase or witch-hunt is turning the leftists into underdog "martyrs," thus creating another public relations disaster for your government and giving this group of otherwise politically bankrupt and misguided idealists the fantastic bonanza of free publicity!

I have come to realize that President GMA is almost unrivalled in political genius and audacity, but alas, she is still a big failure in marketing savvy.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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