PASKO na, Kapamilya! You know it’s Christmas when décor in the season’s colors start popping up on major thoroughfares and the mall muzak is interspersed with carols. And, for kapamilyas all over the world, Christmas is definitely around the corner when the station ID featuring their favorite singers, actors and other media personalities starts getting airplay on Channel 2. For Christmas 2009, ABS-CBN came up with “Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko
,” a “back-to-basics” campaign centered on “Bro,” as the child Santino calls Jesus Christ in the network’s sleeper hit “May Bukas Pa.”
The campaign kicked off on Nov. 4 with the launch of the Christmas station ID, and the lighting of an 18-foot parol led by ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, president Charo Santos-Concio and other executives, and Kapamilya talents, including Santino himself, Zaijian Jaranilla. With several departments, divisions and subsidiaries contributing their ideas to “Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko,” this year’s campaign not only unites ABS-CBN employees for the common goal of bringing cheer to the Filipinos and infecting them with the Christmas spirit. It also inspires and uplifts a nation in need of healing after the double whammy inflicted by tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng. The way to “Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko” started as early as June, when teams from Sales, Marketing, Creative Communications Management (CCM), Licensing, Production, and Property pitched concepts to the leadership committee composed of Channel 2 head Cory V. Vidanes and department heads. Vidanes suggested merging all the concepts—including Marketing’s company-wide Christmas tree lighting activity, Licensing’s Parol ni Bro, CCM’s tagline and station ID, a Christmas bazaar and the Win sa Bituin viewers’ promo—into one big campaign.
The core idea, in the beginning, was simply to boost employee morale in the midst of the global economic crisis and unite everyone in a ceremonial Christmas tree lighting ceremony. However, the idea was scrapped when they realized that there are “so many Christmas tree lighting events.”
“ So we said, why not go back to the basic symbol of Christmas for the Filipinos, which is the star,” Vidanes said. “It’s really the parol; the star led the Three Kings and the shepherds to Jesus in Bethlehem.”
“We wanted something uplifting also for the employees, we wanted to come together in a ceremonial lighting,” added program marketing head Zita Aragon. “In the wake of Ondoy, the message became even more relevant.” Aragon was thinking that the parol lighting ceremony could become an annual ABS-CBN tradition, as with the network’s Independence Day flag raising ceremony on June 12 every year.
While the head office was lighting the parol, simultaneous parol lightings were taking place in the Regional Network Group (RNG) areas of Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Dagupan, and in The Filipino Channel (TFC) territories in San Francisco, London, Dubai and Milan. Earlier, Aragon had coordinated with CCM head Robert Labayen on the overall theme, as the CCM and its station ID is considered the “face” of the campaign. “Kung ano yung theme nila, dapat theme naming lahat. Our expression and execution may vary but everyone is saying, ‘Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko.’ One sight, one sound kami,” she explained. CCM was brainstorming on the concept of doing good deeds on Christmas and worked in the star and Bro ideas when the producers of “May Bukas Pa” said that they were thinking of a parolcentered celebration on the teleserye. Labayen recalled that his group was already shooting the original idea for the station ID when Ondoy
struck. Dismayed by the devastation—almost a thousand employees were affected in ABS-CBN alone—they approached Vidanes with the idea of tweaking the concept. “We still used the idea of ‘Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko’ but it’s now more focused on rebuilding our lives after the tragedies,” Labayen said.
The CCM head wrote the lyrics for the theme song while Marcus Davis, an American who’s “a fan of the Filipino people,” composed the music.
Teresita Villareal, marketing division officer in charge and head of the customer marketing and production services group, noted: “The flavor is different— it had to be inspiring, uplifting, healing, hopeful. It now has references to Sagip Kapamilya
, to volunteerism, to helping those in need.”
After the station ID shoot, several actors and news anchors came up to Labayen, thanking him for giving them a chance to be a part of it.
“They felt something different, na meron silang natulong with uplifting the spirit. They really wanted to be there. Kaya heartfelt yun, yung pagkanta nila sa station ID, mangiyak-ngiyak talaga sila,” he said.
Vidanes concurs: “Naiyak kaming lahat. In fairness to Robert, he made a very beautiful song, very inspiring.” According to Labayen, even before the station ID, the artistas themselves had made known their desire to help out, to be part of the post-Ondoy
relief and rehabilitation.
“In times of crisis, the Filipinos go out of their way to help each other. Maaasahan talaga ang Pinoy,” Vidanes pointed out. “They don’t wait for the government agencies to move, they do what they can to be of help immediately. The values of unity, generosity and service come alive in the most difficult times.”
To make the season even more festive and exciting for kapamilyas, ABS-CBN has thrown in viewer and interactive promos, a bazaar, a countdown, and its much awaited Christmas special (see sidebar story) at the Araneta Coliseum into its grab bag of Yuletide treats. “We usually have a bazaar within the grounds, it’s run by Property,” said Villareal. They’re also selling Parol ni Bro. Every Friday we really have a bazaar, like an organic market. Now that Christmas is approaching, there are more gift items.”
Added Aragon: “You can see different retail outlets there, fruit stalls, everything. Pag lunch nakikita mo yung mga empleyado, mga bisita, yung mga nanonood ng ‘Wowowee,’ namimili rin.” More than that, kapamilyas can immerse themselves more fully in “Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko” by taking part in the viewer promo, where lucky viewers can win cash prizes. “There will be 10 or 20 winners of P200,000. Instead of giving away P1 million to just one viewer, more families all over the country can take home P200,000,” Aragon said. With so many components, Aragon aptly described “Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko” as ABS-CBN’s “biggest Christmas campaign ever.”
“Sobrang laking tulong ni Tita Cory
to make it happen, especially with the stars. Pati sa design ng parol involved sya,” Aragon revealed.
Villareal noted: “It was a challenge because there were more people involved. But as a company, we like to outdo ourselves. What can we do better, how can we improve on what we’ve done? We just need to continue the communication, the coordination, the learning, so that we’re able to do something better, to create something better every time. I think it should really have been this way. It was a very good team effort.”
The response to the campaign has been tremendous. In YouTube, Facebook and many other forums and blogs, hundreds are sharing how they have been moved and inspired.
ABS-CBN management is encouraged that Filipinos can relate to the company’s message: “With Bro’s guidance and empowerment, dumaan man sa malakas na alon, lahat tayo’y makakaahon. Dahil kay Bro, muling magakakakulay ang Pasko.”