Philippines marketing director Christina Lao won the Mansmith Young Market
Masters Award (YMMA) in 2010. Under her leadership where she supervises a
talented group of millennials, overseeing menu innovation, brand
communications, digital marketing, family marketing, local store marketing, and
customer care, McDonald’s Philippines received the Hall of Fame Award from the
Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) for winning the Grand
PANAta Award, its highest accolade, for three consecutive years. She also led
McDonald’s Philippines in receiving the Brand Builder of the Year for the
McDelivery Pin campaign during the 2018 PANAta Awards, Ad of the Year during
the inaugural 2018 YouTube Ad Awards for “Wait Lang Po”, and the highly
coveted Advertiser of the Year Award during the 2018 Philippine Boomerang
has happily imparted her marketing knowledge and the secrets to her team’s
success to other McDonald’s markets around the world, as one of the professors
in the Worldwide Marketing Hamburger University in Munich, Germany in 2018, and
Bangkok, Thailand in 2017. She shares with us how to convert consumer insights
into a big idea.
What is a marketing big idea to you?
I would personally define the “Marketing Big Idea” as a “creative seed” that
comes from an inspiring and thought-provoking consumer insight and is able to
link the creative idea with the brand and business objectives. Just like any
seed, if watered and nurtured well, it will grow into something beautiful and
fruitful, and can have the power to move the brand forward–connecting well with
its target market, in the heart, mind, and stomach.
marketing big idea can come from anywhere—from the Marketing Team, from other
departments within the organization, from our agency partners, and even from
our customers themselves.
is very important for a marketing campaign to have that one big idea that will
keep all components and elements and stages of the campaign aligned, from
anticipation, to amplification and participation. As much as
possible, it should be a customer-centric, media-neutral idea that supports the
strategy/ies identified in order to deliver the business objectives.
How does one prepare to think of big ideas?
We are a big believer of mining big marketing ideas from relevant and
compelling consumer insights—these make the foundation of all our plans. We
look at our category, customers, and even the very culture of the Filipino
people, to really drill down on what will resonate well with our customers. We
think of our customer’s journey.
acknowledge that this is not easy, so at McDonald’s, we encourage
collaboration. The brief is not the sole deliverable of the Marketing Team or
the agency partner but is co-authored by the two to ensure strong alignment.
The team takes great time and effort in crafting our brief. It is important
that we articulate our objectives and insights in a clear, succinct, and
we have agreed on the insight, the team then works on the big idea.
What’s the process of shortlisting to choose the final big idea?
Different marketers would have different ways of shortlisting big ideas.
my team, we would always ensure that when we enter a meeting where big ideas
are presented, we keep an open mind and an unbiased attitude set on listening
to all ideas—no matter how simple or complex it may sound.
should not shoot down an idea just because it is not what he or she expected to
hear. It is important to listen first to why and how this idea came about,
especially knowing the proponent must have spent a lot of time and energy
thinking about it.
is also important to keep communication open between you and the one presenting
the big idea. Be honest and transparent with your questions as well as your
always ask every member of the team to give their view and feedback on the
openly discuss what we like, and what we are shelving it for now.
choosing a big idea, aside from evaluating it from a marketer’s point of view,
we ensure we look at it from a consumer standpoint. Is it engaging
and relevant to them? Will it connect with them? We ask ourselves,
“How will I understand this as a McDonald’s customer?”
most importantly, as a marketer, one of your most powerful tools is your
intuition – your gut feel and personal judgement based on your own observations
and understanding of your brand and customer. At the end of the day, your
intuition may tell you that an idea is scary, but still tell you to go for it
because the risk is worth it.
What are some of your favorite all-time big ideas that you have formulated?
What were the insights behind them?
This is a very difficult question to answer, as I have been with the brand for
quite some time now, and there are so many Big Ideas we’ve brought to life that
I am really very proud of.
were to highlight some campaigns that we have done recently, these would be:
McDelivery Pin, which was grounded on wanting to make it convenient for
families to enjoy their meals during Undas at the cemetery—a
crowded place where an exact address/location was not feasible to provide. The
McDelivery Pin served as a landmark and was integrated into the McDo PH App and
the McDelivery Website, allowing the McDelivery rider and customer to easily
find each other. The campaign took home various awards at the Boomerangs and
was also recognized globally in the McDonald’s system.
Pa Rin, we used the emotional hook of breaking up, similar to the
concept of switching to Burger McDo, and invited teens to see change as
something positive. A good heartbreak story is cathartic, not to mention
universal. The video became an overnight viral sensation, and the song by
Neocolours became the new teenage soundtrack. We were so overwhelmed by the
clamor for a sequel, we produced a second part around nine months after from
the point of view of a different character. The sequel even did better than the
first one and further help grew our burger category.
the film Wait Lang Po, which we released in celebration of Father’s Day, we
wanted to differentiate from the big tear-jerking productions that usually mark
the occasion by shining the light on patient, selfless fathers and featuring
smaller moments and acts that often go unnoticed. We’re very proud of the film,
which won Ad of the Year at the YouTube Ads Awards.
What are common mistakes in formulating big ideas?
I would not call them as “common mistakes” as one thing my have not
worked for one brand but did work for another. I would rather call
them as “lessons learned and experiences gained” from trying new things and
from my personal observations:
putting the customer at the center of the creation of the brief and of the big
2. Thinking that the big idea of one brand will also apply to yours just because you have a similar target market.
3. Compromising on which idea to go with just because it is the popular one.
4. Falling in love with a certain idea so much and getting stuck with it for a long time that it becomes formulaic.
5. Not willing to openly communicate and to collaborate with other team members.
Not giving the concerned parties with enough time to think and to craft the big ideas.
one of the most exciting parts in the work of a marketer is coming up with the
Marketing Big Idea, it should not stop there. It is important that
we see it through with the proper execution, monitoring, and
evaluation. It is only when one’s great idea reaches and engages the
customers and eventually delivers the results that it become even more fulfilling.
one has a monopoly over Big Ideas. As a marketer, one should not solely take
all credits for the success of a campaign. A big idea is a result of
all the creative thinking and hard work of all team members—the marketing team,
the agency partners, and in our case, our operations team who delivers not only
the delicious food but the memorable experience to our customers.
Record-breaking, bestselling author Josiah Go is the Chairman of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines), and Chairman of Waters Philippines (the market leader in the direct selling of premium home water purifiers in the Philippines). He is Chairman / Vice Chairman / Director of over a dozen companies.
Record Breaking in Launch Sales. Available at National Book Store