Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Payatas Tragedy, A Grim Reminder of Mis-Development

Notes From our Documentary, Payatas a Mirror of Poverty

During the early morning of July 10, 2000, after several days of rain, a 50 ft. wall of garbage collapsed on the shanties immediately adjacent to the dump. To this day, there is no firm headcount of lives that were needlessly lost.

The tragedy in Payatas could have been prevented had the authorities learned its lessons on mis-developing and mismanaging another infamous dumpsite the Smokey Mountain. The closure of the Smokey Mountain in 1990 didn’t answer the core problem of unsustainable solid waste management in Metro Manila. The government’s response to closing the Smokey Mountain just lead to the opening of similarly untenable dumpsites such as Payatas, Montalban, Tanza, Navotas and Pier 18. All these dumpsites have immediate communities that are directly affected by the environmental hazards posed by the tons of garbage being dumped on a daily basis. These solid wastes are largely unsorted. Thus, the huge amount of mixed solid wastes that over a period of time combined with the hot temperatures could ignite into hazardous fires that have caused lives in Smokey Mountain and Payatas. To this day, despite the closure of both the Smokey Mountain and Payatas, the mountains of garbage still pose danger to the communities that surround these dumpsites.

Gleaning through the timeline of the opening, closure and re-opening of new dumpsites have the government and the people learned any lessons from the tragedies of Payatas and Smokey Mountain? Has there been an in-depth analysis of the whole situation to determine what the CORE problem is, and how to resolve these problems once and for all? While several non-profit organizations have attempted to do this while organizing these dumpsite communities, none so far have come up with a long term and sustainable program, addressing the real source and root of a stream of mis-development initiatives. You simply cannot put a band-aid to cure cancer.

Going back to the source, what is the cause of all these? Just before the Payatas tragedy occurred in July 20, 2000, we had been doing a film documentary project on the rural development efforts of several non-profit organizations. We were documenting how these projects directly respond to the problems of the influx of internal migrants from the twenty-two poorest provinces in the Philippines into already congested city centers like Manila, Cebu and Davao. When we interviewed several family members of scavengers on the hilltops of Payatas, their response was in unison: they went to Manila in search of jobs. They relate how there is no or almost no source of income in the provinces where they came from. They recall how the seasonal income they derive from rice or coconut farming barely pay for previous family debts they have accumulated over the years as tenant farmers, or let alone sustain them for at least another six months. In comparison, while they struggle to survive in dumpsites like Payatas, they at least earn enough to sustain their basic needs on a daily basis. On a good day, a family of six working together can earn as much as $10. A good day is when more than 1,000 trucks arrive to dump about 2 to 3 tons of garbage. $10 is more than what a minimum wage earner makes which is P250.00. $10 is almost twice that much converted to local currency.

On the macro level, looking at the steady stream of people trying to get into city centers like Manila, how can this be abated or even prevented? Not wanting to be simplistic about it, but just pointing to a possibly direct answer, we were looking at rural development projects that actually tried to generate jobs in the countryside by starting cottage industries and re-educating farmers and fisher folks into sustainable farming and fishing methods. These alternative approaches to farming and fishing involve not just the actual people who do the farming and fishing but the whole community and its environs.

Meanwhile, what about the problem of solid waste management in the city centers like Manila? Several initiatives had been started right after the Payatas tragedy but it needed consistency and continuity. One such initiative is the recycling and zero-waste education program started by the Culinary Education Foundation (CEF), the social arm of the Cravings Group of Companies. The program is simple in that it promotes zero-waste lifestyle not only as a way of life but also to boost income and aid in the livelihood of people. Other similar projects have started with home owners’ associations across the 20+ suburbs of Metro Manila.

This being said, if government authorities and private associations work together towards a common goal of zero waste, instead of pointing a finger who to blame for what, then a more viable resolution is possible. Moreover, a master development plan for both urban and rural centers should be drafted based from existing researches that has been concluded after the Payatas tragedy. An integrated urban and rural development plan that would resolve the intertwining problems of rural and urban poverty, joblessness, lack of basic social and business infrastructures in the rural areas and mass awareness of the positive impact of zero waste management can be a good start. Sounds complex but with the galvanized resolve and unified will of the Filipino citizenry, it can be done.

Should a B2B Business Consider Doing a Television Commercial?

Recently I have been asked by a couple of companies who market to other businesses to do a television campaign for them. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical taking this on. In the past I have actually turned down these tpes of clients. When we produce a television commercial we want the client to be successful, make money so that we in turn can produce and place more commercials for them. Producing a commercial for consumers allows for more creativity, and the market is easier to pinpoint.

While producing a video for a client who markets to other companies, I was reminded that the objective of the video is to open the possibility of a sale and not close it. Just because you want your customers to buy your product or service, it doesn’t mean they want to hear what you have to say. You first need to understand the complicated world that your prospective clients live and work in. If you direct your pitch with this in mind, they will listen and respond.

I started remembering what David Ogilvy had said. "The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife", and “The prospect isn't a robot; he is your neighbor”. David Mackenzie Ogilvy, was a well-known advertising executive, and was often called "The Father of Advertising". In 1962, Time magazine called him "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry". He built his career expanding the bounds of both creativity and morality in advertising. One of David Ogilvy's principles, in particular, is that the function of advertising is to sell and that successful advertising for any product is based on information about its consumer. These are important basics that I seemed to have forgotten when it came to B2B television advertising.

When writing the script for my client’s video, I realized that companies don't buy his product, people do. In presenting his product there was a different sale to be addressed and that was the actual person who was going to use it. When McDonald’s advertises on television, who are the commercials directed to, adults or children? Actually it’s both. You need to convince the owner of the company along with the person who is going to use your product or service. If a B2B television ad is going to work you need to direct it to the owner or CEO who is probably male and over 50. You also need to direct it to the person who will answer your sales calls when and if you do direct follow up. This person is usually a female. In my client’s case he needed to get past the person who answered the telephone, and get to the person who was responsible in making the purchasing decisions.

About 70% of people know what AFLAC is, but hardly anybody knows exactly what or how they do it (around 4%). AFLAC markets to businesses with 7 or more employees. They market to businesses because by having their employees purchase additional insurance, businesses get to decrease their tax liability. Once they establish an account through the company they proceed to meet with their employees one-on-one to sell them. Overall (nationwide), AFLAC has a batting average of 60-70% once they get to talk to the employee face to face. Their television commercials are directed to the employees and not the companies. Obviously this makes it easier to sell their insurance, as the employees are already familiar with the brand.

It’s important to target your message to the end user and co-workers. Inspire them to pass along the video and your message. Create a campaign where they see themselves using your service or product to make their work environment safer or less stressful and easier. This can often be done in a humorous way. Producing a commercial that is humorous or fun will more often than not be remembered and passed along to other co-workers. Many times this will require more than one commercial, as in the case of McDonald’s. You will need to deliver your message to the “adult” and the child”, and the “boss and the employee”. Both will have a major influence on the decision whether to buy or not.

Knowing all this now, I am no longer going to shy away from clients asking to do a commercial with other businesses as targets. It just presents a different challenge. However, with the proper research and strategizing tools, a successful campaign can be viably produced.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Make Your Video's WORK for You

We all have heard from one source or another that putting a video on your web site will preform magic, by drawing customers attention, and possibly sales. Typically people will watch a video, because they are gathering information using two senses, sight and sound. Its sometimes easier to listen and watch someone show you something then to read about it. By putting a video on your web site it can make a surfer stay a few minutes longer, and if done properly, help create a new customer.

Making your Video
Its important to remember that this video that you put on your site, should be the best quality that you can make it. Its no different then your business card, or any other way you present yourself to new customers, Your video can be the first impression. Imagine watching a national television commercial, by one of the fortune 500 corporations, shot on a home video camera, with shaky images, Grey color, tinny sound, and poor lighting. They of course would not do that, because they have an image to uphold. Produce your video in a professional manor so that your prospective clients will see that you are a professional.

Hosting your Video
Now that you have your video, you need to put it on your web site. There are basically three ways to do this. The first is to upload and host it yourself. This can give you full control, especially being able to create your own custom video player. The second is by putting it on a UGC (user generated content) site, such as YouTube. At this time I can think of 31 different sites. The quality of these differ, and their restrictions also differ, but its free, and you can use the embedding text to put them on your site. You do have no control over the player and you will also have to put up with some advertisements. The third is to use a fee based SaaS site which you pay a monthly fee to host your videos. We like to upload our clients videos on the UGC sites for several reasons. There are several that do offer very good quality, along with no ads showing. Some even offer HD, but this does and can demand a lot of bandwidth. When we shoot a commercial, we shoot it in HD, and usually its converted to SD for local broadcast. When we upload it to various sites, we also make a HD master for some of the HD servers.

Making Your Video Work for You
Now its time to make that video work for you and drive customers to your web site. When encoding your video for the web, make sure you embed the video with lots of metadata. There are several software packages that will create special XMP files, developed by Adobe, which will actually embed keywords into the video itself. When the sites convert your file to flash, the data is not lost, and the search engines will actually find your video, along with your site. Your video can actually act as another web site for you. Try this, do a Google search for “Masipag Rice”. This is a video that we produced for a non-profit organization in the Philippines. This video was encoded with XMP files, and uploaded to 18 different UGC sites. You will find the first Google results will be videos. Google will even list the videos before actual sites with the word “Masipag” in the site name. If you do this properly you will find other sites, such as Mefeedia, and AOL will pick up your video and show it.
After you have encoded it properly, and uploaded it, you need to also embed it in social networks, blogs, and listing sites. You can show it on MerchantCircle, but unfortunately, they only allow links to YouTube. YouTube is ok, but you are stuck with their logo in your video, and the quality can suffer. There is a great site called Get Fave. You can go to and get a free listing, and embed the video, from a site such as blipTV or DailyMotion, which will give you a high quality video, with a clean player and no ads, giving you a professional look. Get Fave is Google friendly, so if you have any questions about Get Fave, you can email Claude Palacios at:, and he will help you. The best part is that its free, and will help get that

video of yours to start working for you.

Start making your videos work for you