Cookie Bartolome, head of ABS-CBN Themed Experiences Inc., believes ABS-CBN’s foray into this industry could be the start of something big.
“We are at an inflection point in the history of the company. While broadcast continues to be the driver of revenue, we are looking for the next wave of businesses that could propel the company to further growth. We are exploring the business model of selling direct to the consumer. This (themed experiences) could perhaps be one such business. We could be riding the wave of the future. People are willing to pay for unique experiences and our products could be among these offerings they would want to try,” says Bartolome, who has been concurrent president and chief executive officer of KidZania since 2017.
16 years in advertising
She joined ABS-CBN Integrated Marketing in 2010 after 16 years in the advertising business. Making a mark for creative executions, she nonetheless eventually felt burnt out by the near-24/7 demands of advertising.
“I express my creativity through media. I don’t sing, I don’t dance, but in Integrated Marketing we had the opportunity to revolutionize things whether in customer marketing, consumer marketing, trade marketing. So shifting from advertising to marketing, the job was different but also familiar.”
It was her team in Integrated Marketing that led the 60th anniversary celebration of ABS-CBN that began with identifying who ABSCBN is, recommitting to its vision of being in the service of the Filipino and creating its brand story making it clear where the company started and where it was headed.
Heritage of service
The ABSCBN look got a “refresh” with a new logo, signaling its determination to succeed as a consumer brand, from its earlier corporate roots. The company staged a three-day event at three venues (Quezon City Memorial Circle, Araneta Coliseum and Marikina Sports Complex) that became a high point not only for loyal Kapamilya viewers, but also for ABS-CBN employees who felt proud of their heritage of service and the promising future that awaits them.
Bartolome admits she continues to be in learning mode as far as the themed attraction business is concerned.
“There’s no school in the Philippines that teaches you how to run a theme park. I have had to immerse myself, visit various theme parks, talk to owners and operators of theme parks, participate in conferences, network with other operators. Running KidZania has been a big help. And I also took the Harvard Management Program which helped me strengthen my leadership and general management skills.”
She is excited about a future where ABS-CBN can be so much closer to its audiences.
“Filipinos are enamored. They want to be part of our content. They ask how they can enter ABS-CBN, how they can book tours. We imagine so many possibilities, and we will be hard to replicate because of the intellectual property that we have.”
Her latest project is the first branded studio city of ABS-CBN called ABS-CBN Studio Experience. She is especially proud to showcase the “ingenuity and great talent” of the people of ABS-CBN seen in the content they create. She considers the process of adapting, repurposing and reinventing how they create content to reconnect with ABS-CBN viewers, who will now be Studio XP patrons, as both a challenge and an accomplishment. “I am happy to say that by and large Studio XP is locally conceptualized, developed and produced.”
Her message to “LopezLink” readers: “I hope each Lopez Group employee has a chance to visit ABS-CBN Studio XP. Bring your family and friends. Enjoy what we have to offer. Immerse yourself in something new and unique and of high quality. There is a lot that you can learn and, at the same time, you will have fun.”