In July 2015, after 36 years in Philippine showbiz, Eat Bulaga ‘reinvented’ their TV show with the Aldub segment. Based on data provided by Kantar Media Philippines, Eat Bulaga was able to more than double the number of household viewers. From a base of 2.5 million households last July 2015, it went up to 6.2 million on October 24, 2015, with the additional 3.7 million households watching on Saturdays (the highest for the week). These are mostly new viewers from the unserved market, and this excludes people watching via appliance stores or neighborhood, as well as overseas Filipino workers.
There are about 20 million total households in the Philippines. With some 15.5 million households owning a TV set, the market potential for noontime TV show viewers is still relatively high as not everybody is watching TV during noontime.
The last major brand that was able to almost double their number of followers within a 3-month period in the Philippines was Pepsi in 1992. Unfortunately, Pepsi wasn’t able to sustain their efforts, having been affected by human error. This led to the infamous 349 crisis. They could’ve gained more if they extended their Pepsi Number Fever promotions. Coke got lucky as Pepsi sustained a self-inflicted injury.
Back track even further to 1977 and 1978, way before Eat Bulaga was born – John Travolta was the next big thing in Hollywood, starring in now-iconic musicals such as ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’. He was certainly a cut above the rest as he did more than just the typical Hollywood roles. When he branched out from his usual image and repositioned himself to do other roles, his movies ended up becoming financial disasters. It actually took him 16 years to be considered “cool” again, thanks to 1994’s ‘Pulp Fiction’. He was finally able to garner attention again, for a role that reminded people of who he was in his two early hit movies.
When success is phenomenal, brands and the people behind them may develop over confidence. There is a tendency to feel powerful and unbeatable, until a blunder or a roadblock happens and forces them to zoom out and look objectively from a different perspective. At the moment, people may still be gaga over Aldub, but marketing history (examples cited above) will reveal that they are not entirely invincible. Let me elaborate.
Two past articles published by myself hypothesized that new viewers were mainly responsible for the rejuvenated Eat Bulaga that we are enjoying now. They were attracted because the show not just added the Aldub love team (albeit accidentally) within the ‘Juan for All, All for Juan’ segment, but values were also injected within the show via Lola Nidora’s antics. Eat Bulaga had defacto repositioned itself as an “entertainment + values” fusion category that became distinguishable from the purely noontime entertainment formula that other networks have been doing. Aldub attracted family-oriented households that felt like they shared the same values and sense of humor as Yaya Dub and Lola Nidora. It wasn’t hard to like because the segment showed familiar themes in Filipino culture. #SaTamangPanahon was popularized when Lola Nidora shared the importance of waiting for the right time to take the next steps in a relationship. It was a sure hook for households who wanted to stress the concept of proper “panliligaw”, something that is not so common in this day and age.
The many values of the Aldub segment not only differentiated Eat Bulaga from its peers, but more importantly, provided relevance versus pain points expressed by noncustomers — instead of going with the same deprecating humor demonstrated by other shows, Eat Bulaga went the opposite route and became a positive icon, beyond the usual ‘saya’ and ‘kilig.’ (Interestingly, Eat Bulaga also went the ‘trash talk’ route once and some of the hosts were even accused of more controversial issues. Imagine this case study as a 360 degree transformation.)
A review of the latest total number of viewers watching Eat Bulaga, as audited by Kantar Media Philippines in November and December 2015 is disturbing, with a rapidly declining base of viewers. From a peak of 6.2 million households viewing last October 24, 2015, when Maine Mendoza, one-half of the Aldub love team, wished ‘sana di kayo magsawa,’ the number has deteriorated rapidly to only 4 million households viewing after a month on Nov 28, 2015; 3.5 million on Dec 6, 2015; 3.3 million on December 19, 2015 and finally at 2.65 million households viewing on Dec. 26, 2015. Eat Bulaga practically lost all incremental customers they gained, losing 3.55 million viewing households in two months while gaining only a measly 150,000 extra fans, despite the numerous product endorsements that aired during the same period.
Most followers of Eat Bulaga may remember the two critical events that possibly explain the deterioration in the number of viewers — Maine Mendoza, then better known as Yaya Dub for her initial role as a caregiver (yaya) doing dubsmash, already met Alden Richards in their much publicized event of Oct 24 in the Philippine Arena. Prior to this event, Lola Nidora hindered them from meeting. Secondly, instead of doing only Dubsmash which she was originally known for before joining Eat Bulaga, Maine Mendoza stopped being mysterious, and is now using her own voice. She was transformed from an underdog, girl-next-door caregiver Yaya Dub to a more glamorous up-and-coming talent Maine Mendoza, the love interest of Alden Richards.
Aldub is still a formidable team to the segment they attract. They helped the ‘Pa Bebe Love: #Kilig Pa More’ movie to not just become a hit during the 41st Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), but also get the biggest opening day gross for all Filipino films. Even the movie title was named after the famous ‘Pabebe Wave’ popularized by Yaya Dub during one of the earlier episodes.
‘Pabebe Wave’ was a limited run movie in Eastwood, a likely hangout of one of the show’s new viewers. The author watched it in the early evening of Dec. 29, 2015, their 5th showing day, and noticed how the cinema was far from full, and actually very quiet throughout the duration of the movie (except for a few parts).
From the point of view of loyal fans, they will continue to be passionate as themselves / “Aldubnation”. However, from the perspective of new viewers attracted to the fusion category, making them stay will be difficult for they are still longing for the same drama as the highly quoted #SaTamangPanahon. At best, some may still remain as occasional viewers, who sadly, can also turn into lapsed, burnt-out customers.
Most new viewers who originally got into Eat Bulaga because of the fusion category/concept may not exactly be attracted to seeing selected people from a barangay getting prizes from advertisers and sponsors. This was a formula that was done by Eat Bulaga even before the Aldub love team was concocted. Perhaps it was the reason why these new viewers never watched Eat Bulaga in the first place. They may not be attracted to senatoriable Tito Sotto engaging the recipients of these prizes. They may not be attracted to Maine co-hosting part of the show or performing a character where she is not a role model or Dubsmash talent/comedian. They may not be interested in the number of “#weeksary” tweets, even if another tweet record can be established. They may not be interested in the number of likes and shares in Facebook. All these things simply please the existing fans. The new viewers may fall out of the fad because they’ll eventually realize that they became new customers mostly due to a different value proposition, which is now not as strong as before.
In recent episodes, Lola Nidora is seen trying to revert back to their older entertainment + values formula, but it seems like the focus is not entirely there yet. Perhaps an increased consistent effort and commitment will bring back lapsed and non-customers.
At least eight lessons can be learned about the sustainability of market-driving innovation in service, formerly seen in Eat Bulaga. As mentioned above, the numbers have switched — from at peak viewing households of 6.2 million to only 2.6 million. These lessons are:
1. Distinguish market-driven strategy versus market-driving strategy, the former responding to the needs of the existing customers while the latter shaping the needs of new customers. These two types of marketing strategy are not mutually exclusive and can happen at the same time. Embracing true learnings on why an accidental success is key in order not to keep losing millions of household viewers who tried watching but are no longer interested to continue watching Eat Bulaga.
2. New customers are attracted to new features (i.e. Explicit emphasis on forgotten values (like #SaTamangPanahon), role model, unpredictability, etc.) of an offer and will be lost if the priority features they got attracted to in the first place will cease to exist. Over a period of time, these motivators become satisfiers. The problem with that is that it may become a dissatisfier if you remove or change it. New customers, one of the nine different types of noncustomers, tend to behave differently compared to loyal and screaming fans who are less sensitive to changes.
3. Understand different goals. For market-driving strategy, it’s acquisition and market penetration as reflected in the number of new viewers, while for market-driven strategy, it’s satisfaction and loyalty as reflected in comparative ratings. Never fall in love with ratings (market share) alone where a superior rating can still be attained while bleeding millions of new viewers as in the case of Eat Bulaga.
4. Dialogue partners are key. In market-driven strategy, it’s the loyal fans. In market-driving strategy, it’s the noncustomers. This is a usual culprit when brand owners listen to existing customers and assume that what satisfies loyal and screaming fans will also be valid for noncustomers.
5. Market-driving strategy’s first of seven principles — that being better is the enemy of being different. Eat Bulaga has attracted noncustomers by being different and being non-traditional. As the voice of the screaming fans went up, they became more traditional, addicted to market-driven metrics (ratings, number of tweets, number of likes) instead of market penetration and values shared or quoted in market-driving strategy (read two articles ‘Marketing and Strategy Lessons From Eat Bulaga’s Aldub‘ and ‘The Market-Driving Strategy of #Aldub‘)
6. Innovation is about two elements — offering something new but being commercially successfully. Success is about sustainability, the stickiness factor — making people try, retry, and repeat their behavior until it becomes part of their lives. To make Maine Mendoza co-host or do out of character roles at Eat Bulaga is not being different, and for now, not even being better, beyond her new found popularity. Aldub will just become another love team if this keeps up. Unless Eat Bulaga acknowledges the white space in the fusion category of entertainment plus values, they will end up trying to be unique in the same way as competitors instead of being unique in a unique way, a fusion category of their own.
7. Adopt different lenses in marketing – market-driven vs. market-driving, growth marketing vs. defensive marketing, the latter should be anticipated as alert and progressive competitors may decide to pick up the white space abandoned by the innovator. Imagine that ABS-CBN has more resources and a greater market reach and they may fill in the values void within a new segment, after all over 3 million lapsed viewers will be hard to ignore as market potential, learning from three successive incorrect responses (three top love teams guesting, Coliseum event, Pastillas Girl) catering to needs of existing viewers instead of new viewers. Who knows, TV 5 may just get a headquarter mandate to jump in and tap the synergies of their sister companies in media, telecom and related businesses.
8. The right vision makes the difference. No doubt making fans happy is important, ensuring that the show is a stress reliever is a given but having dual vision entails humility to learn and a innovator’s paradigm — sharing more weekly forgotten values explicitly like #SaTamangPanahon to a country where close to half of its households have no parents at home because they are working elsewhere entails not just wanting commercial success but making a difference. A TV show, like or unlike Eat Bulaga, can be so powerful and effective to have the ability to address social issues and influence the mindsets and behavior of its citizens via entertainment. That’s the most exciting market-driving strategy in show business, a true fusion of entertainment and values. Di lang saya at kilig, but Saya, Kilig at Laman!
(For Josiah Go’s seminars in Market-Driving Strategy or Business Model Innovation, please visit www.mansmith.net)