Behind Jollibee’s heart-warming viral videos is data

Cover art Erka Inciong

Words by

Digital Reporter

Love notes posted on Yumburgers. Declarations expressed over Chickenjoy. It’s not impossible that you’ve been touched by Jollibee’s viral commercial series for Valentine’s—dubbed #KwentongJollibee—which has earned more than 15 million views. Beyond the screen, the numbers have translated into good revenues for the company during the period, thanks to marketing communications agency McCann WorldGroup Philippines.

The fast food giant is just among McCann Philippines’ clients: a long list that includes other large companies like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

In a conversation with one of its top execs, SparkUp found out that behind the success of the agency is thorough and meticulous use of data.

Gino Borromeo, vice-president and chief strategy officer at McCann Philippines, whose primary role is to guide and advise clients said that coming up with a strong campaign involves a rigorous process of “reading the market, people, and competition” using data before “recommending where a brand will go.”

 “Anybody can come up with recommendations but if those recommendations are not grounded by some kind of truth or reality, they are just opinions,” he said.

 These “bits of information,” Borromeo said, “guide us to what we should really be looking at and what we should be ignoring.”

 “Data comes in many forms,” he explained. “Sometimes it’s numbers, sometimes it’s stories, sometimes it’s pictures, sometimes it’s how people behave, and what we’re trying to do is look at as many data sources as we can given the time available to us and given the matrix of the client’s problem.”

PROCESS

The production begins with “monitoring of certain points of data” from different sources such as social media, third-party data providers, and McCann’s own research unit called Truth Central. Borromeo’s team is composed of 15 individuals from different backgrounds, including market research, brand management, advertising, and social media.

 “The reason why they have different backgrounds is all of them have access and knowledge of data from different places, so we look at different sources,” he explained.

He added, “Every Google search that people do in this country is a form of data indicator of what people are interested in, what they’re looking for, hashtags that go up on social media is another form of data, the conversations on Facebook is another form of data, so we try to track all of these on a normal basis and then we connect that to data we subscribe to.”

After collecting information, the team then finds connections among them, then looks for patterns.

“On any given day, you’ll see us in one of our war rooms. We’re plotting out all information we have on pieces of paper or post-its and we literally try to make connections with thread and needles,” he said. “We’re like conspiracy theorists or FBI investigators.

But while “data doesn’t lie,” Borromeo said mere information “just tells the ‘what.’”

“Real interesting things” happen, he says, during the process when “a story embedded in the information” emerges.

“I try to find the why,” he said. “Why is the number like this? Why are the people behaving like this? Why do people choose this product over the other one? What’s really happening?”

The long process boils down to finding the “underlying narrative” of all data and converting them to a story.

“It’s very easy to dump a lot of information on people but we find that it is easier for people to understand if you tell it in the form of a story,” he said. “We try to extract patterns from the different numbers and based on those patterns find what is the emerging story. That’s the focus of the story because stories make given situations clearer, stories are also a good way to transmit to either your colleague or client what you see is happening in the market.”

In this day and age of technology, data has become among the biggest sources of gold for businesses, with data-driven companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, to name a few, dominating the global market.

But while pieces of simple information can bring million of revenue to businesses, they can also wreak havoc if not properly utilized. Social media giant Facebook, for example, is under fire after data from 50 million users worldwide ended up with data mining firm Cambridge Analytica that helped U.S. President Donald Trump secure the position in 2016.

For Borromeo, there are two ways data can help businesses grow: by allowing them to know the pulse of the market and by opening more opportunities.

“If you’re clear about the problem or the opportunity you want to address, data can actually inspire solutions to the problem,” he said. “What data does is its shows you a possibility. It shows you a perspective that you might have not considered until you saw that piece of information.”

For McCann, creativity’s “perfect pair” is actually data.