3 Key insights from the Philippines’ top entries at the 2023 YouTube Works SEA Awards

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The 2023 YouTube Works SEA Awards continues to inspire Filipino brands and creative agencies well into 2024. The competition’s PH winners have proven to be effective signposts for future campaigns, with each one bearing a wealth of lessons for advertisers looking to connect with the country’s 17M+ YouTube viewers. 

As brands begin to plot out their efforts for the year ahead, adobo Magazine — with the help of YouTube and Kantar — takes a look at key learnings from each of the three Best of Philippines winners:

1. Breaking free from traditional go-to-market plans unlocks dynamic new markets for your brand

Best of Philippines Winner: “Anthem of Financial Freedom”, Maya


Maya’s pivot to tapping a younger market began with a simple question: How can we make banking something cool? Roughly 70% of Filipinos didn’t even have a bank account at the time they did their research, which meant the market was brimming with opportunity.

Their solution was to leverage all the insights they’d learned about millennials and Gen Z into a single, dynamic campaign that started with their rebrand away from “PayMaya” and breaking the old rules of money in the process. Rather than going with tried-and-tested strategies that traditional banks often employ, the brand embraced youth culture, music, games, and street art, kicking things off with an original song by rapper Shanti Dope.

This new anthem of financial freedom would explode onto the scene with a music video, and YouTube became the most important platform for the campaign’s success. With 53% of the campaign’s digital budget going towards efforts on YouTube, the video was able to gain over 180M impressions, 36M views on YouTube (and counting), and reached 63% of its target market.

Most importantly, Maya became the #1 digital banking app in the Philippines as a result of this high-octane campaign.

Suddenly, Maya stood out as “the cool bank”, and pulled it off by fully committing to their message for younger markets: “Your money, your way!”

2. Real stories drive real action when told with authenticity, turning campaigns into movements

1st Runner Up: “GCash Stories: Real Stories that Inspire Real Action”, GCash

Filipinos love a good story, especially when it hits close to home. When the pandemic hit its peak, the market was in dire need of real stories that gave them hope during uncertain times. 

GCash was already a much-appreciated lifeline during this period, as its contactless payment solutions and easy money transfers had already helped thousands of Filipinos stay afloat during lockdown. The brand knew that its app had become much more than the #1 finance super app in the Philippines; it was a tool for hope. And GCash wanted to inspire users to share even more hope with “GCash Stories”.

The campaign was a series of three shorts telling real stories of real people whose lives were significantly impacted by GCash. Cocoy, a former bartender who got laid off when lockdowns brought businesses to a grinding halt, became an entrepreneur by securing loans via GLoan on GCash, and by safely paying for supplies using the app. 

Ate Alma, a university photocopy operator, suffered severe damage to her home due to flooding. Students and alumni all rallied together upon learning of her predicament, and sent donations to her GCash wallet amidst an outpouring of love for her. Drag queen Turing, on the other hand, was able to stay afloat during lockdowns by hosting drag performances at home, with fans sending in tips through GCash. 

Not only did these stories bring tears to audiences’ eyes, but they also became immensely viral as people who personally knew Cocoy, Ate Alma, and Turing happily shared the videos—which, in turn, helped GCash achieve an all-time high in both Engaged Monthly Active Users and Brand Equity Index. 

The campaign had also become a movement among its audiences. The NGOs featured in the stories received over PHP1M in donations as a direct result of the increased awareness, proving that creative campaigns have the power to inspire real people into real action.

3. Turning our conventional constructs of our audiences on their heads and embracing their other facets can significantly boost a brand’s relevancy 

2nd Runner Up: “Balot”, RC Cola

Who could have imagined that moms would be fans of absurdist comedy? As a brand known for its out-of-the-box creativity, it was only natural that RC Cola wouldn’t put its target audience in a box. Their “Balot” campaign was proof that brands can go beyond stereotypical motherhood messaging and succeed.

Working with the insight that there was a sizable population of mothers who turned to YouTube for household tips and hacks, RC Cola decided to create a campaign that would entertain them, too. They decided to have fun with the idea that Filipino moms are notorious for “balot” — the practice of wrapping up food to take home from parties—and churned out a video that didn’t just resonate with moms, but with their kids, too. “Balot” ramped up the practice to a hyperbolic degree, set it to the tune of Sharon Cuneta’s famous “balutin mo ako” lyric, and capped off the hilarity with an introduction of RC Cola’s new Mega Litro product.

Powered by a campaign that saw a 22% increase in the brand’s YouTube investment and a mix of YouTube ad formats, RC Cola saw a 40% uptick in Mega Litro sales, with online brand mentions increasing 13-fold. It turns out that making moms laugh can be a rather refreshing path to success.

More than a celebration of creativity, YouTube Works has also proven to be a valuable resource for brands and advertisers. The Best of Philippines winners from the 2023 awards inspire and educate the industry on how to drive business results and execute effective creative campaigns through video, with innovative ideas directly making a positive impact on business results — a true showcase of creative effectiveness.

And as the competition moves forward into 2024, Filipino brands can look forward to even more insights from the upcoming year’s campaigns — and perhaps even win a few YouTube Works Awards of their own.

Partner with adobo Magazine

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