TAGUIG CITY – If the recent Anvil Awards handed out by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) are any indication, there appears to be an increasing shift in the use of public relations beyond its traditional role towards supporting both the marketing objectives and the corporate social responsibility initiatives of companies and institutions.

The PR programs and tools that won the industry’s highest accolades were those considered highly effective not only in raising brand loyalty and awareness, informing and educating the public, building consumer trust and engagement but also those that serve higher human and community needs. Also noted was the ubiquitous use of social media to amplify content among various target audiences. This was observed by marketing communications conglomerate DDB Group Philippines, one of the top three finalists for Agency of the Year in the 53rd Anvil Awards night held last month.

As an example, one of the gold Anvils that DDB Group Philippines won during the 53rd Anvil Awards was a project of the Rotary Club of Makati West to provide artificial limbs or prostheses to 880 indigent amputees who have lost their legs due to military service, accidents or severe diabetes. In partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the Department of Health and feminine sanitary pad brand Modess, DDB PHL also won a gold Anvil for a campaign to educate women and girls on good menstrual hygiene, its effects on their lives and in building their self-esteem, health, and productivity at school or at work.

Another gold winner was the Daddy’s Girl campaign of SM Supermalls and DDB’s Tribal Worldwide Philippines that aimed to reinforce brand love and equity through the heartwarming story of a father trying his best to hide how he really feels about his daughter’s coming-of-age party. A fourth gold, won by the Manila Electric Company, for which DDB Group/Ripple8 was acknowledged for its agency role, was for the Meralco Advisory public information series which has been highly effective in educating consumers and increasing their understanding of rate adjustments.

On the other hand, winning silver Anvils were brand love campaigns by Jollibee Foods Corporation with DDB Ripple8 for Jollibee Chickenjoy, Yumburger and classic Burger Steak; PLDT Home; Mang Inasal National Halohalo Sarap Day; and the 65th Miss Universe Competition in Manila in 2017 for which Ripple8 DDB was the official PR agency.

For campaigns about responsible citizenry, in response to the rising number of cases of dengue, malaria, and Zika virus, DDB’s Tribal Worldwide PH with the Taguig City government launched the silver-winning NICO project, which introduced a ‘revolutionary ashtray’ that creates a safe, organic, and accessible nicotine-based pesticide, and at the same time promoted the proper disposal of cigarette butts. NICO’s pesticide was used on major canals, walkways, and other public areas in two barangays with some 94,000 local residents, and helped them to become less mosquito-infested.

Rotary Club of Makati West’s Alay Sining 9, launched in partnership with the DDB Group, also won a silver for successfully channeling Philippine art as a means of raising funds for the heart surgery of over 400 indigent babies and children born with congenital heart defect.

Another silver Anvil winner was ‘Kalbs’ by Tribal Philippines with Rotary Club of Makati West, an online video that pays tribute to lives lost to life-threatening diseases, particularly cancer, and doubling as an effort to raise awareness of its lingering effects on those afflicted with the disease and on their loved ones. The digital short film was a break from other melodramatic takes as it focused not on the debilitating disease but on how small acts of love can help those suffering from cancer and the people they leave behind. The film’s message resonated with many and drew a huge engagement on Facebook with 28,000 views, 456 likes, 256 shares, and numerous visitor comments, which was unprecedented in RCMW’s Facebook Page.

The five gold and 15 silver Anvils won by the DDB Group and its affiliates Ripple8, DDB PHL, and Tribal Worldwide PH with its partner clients prove the sustained importance of public relations not only in building brands and corporate reputations but also in serving the real human needs of communities.

In main photo, DDB PHL wins a gold Anvil for its Menstruation Matters campaign in partnership with Philippine Commission for Women, the Department of Health and Johnson & Johnson’s feminine pad Modess, which helped break myths and superstitions and raise awareness about menstrual hygiene and its role in building the self-esteem and productivity of women and girls in school and at work. In photo are (front, left to right): incoming PRSP president Ritzi V. Ronquillo, DDB PHL managing director Elaine S. de Padua, DDB Group culture chief and talent management and communications director Anna Chua-Norbert, DDB PHL associate creative director Kara Lagniton, outgoing PRSP president Jika Dalupan, and 53rd Anvil Awards chairman Owen Cammayo; (back, l to r): DDB PHL executive creative director Paolo Arevalo, Tribal Worldwide Philippines managing director Diane Chua, DDB PHL senior copywriter Sarah de Joya and art director Clei Adriano.