2012 has been a stellar year for the local clothing brands, Bench and Penshoppe, that have brought in some of the hottest foreign celebrities today.
Foreign stars endorsing local brands is nothing new in the Philippine advertising industry.
As early as 2002, Penshoppe tapped Irish boyband Boyzone and Hollywood star Mandy Moore ─ who just came off the box office hit, romantic movie “A Walk to Remember”— to become their brand ambassadors.
Kamiseta, on the other hand, launched a series of poster girls, from Alicia Silverstone, Natalie Portman, Kate Hudson to Katie Holmes in 2009.
Following the Asian sensation that swept the country in 2003, Bench made a statement by making Jerry Yan of Taiwanese boyband F4 come to the Philippines.
In May 2011, Penshoppe created a buzz when Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick, known for his character, Chuck Bass, came to Manila.
Thai heartthrob Mario Maurer became the highlight of the Philippine Fashion Week in October that same year.
ENDORSEMENT GAME HEATS UP. This year, “the endorsement game” has gone up another level. Visiting the country are 10 iconic, foreign celebrities who're well-admired by the young generation.
The frontrunners in this “endorsement game” are clothing brands Bench and Penshoppe.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) listed 10 foreign celebrities who've made an impact in 2012 by endorsing a local clothing brand and coming to the Philippines.
Penshoppe continued their campaign by bringing in Vampire Diaries actor Ian Somerhalder and another Gossip Girl star, Leighton Meester, last May.
More recently, High School Musical star Zac Efron had a jampacked fan conference at the Mall of Asia Arena last September.
Meanwhile, clothing line Bench also made one headline after another this year as they also brought together another stellar line-up.
In February, American Idol David Archuleta and Pretty Little Liars Star Lucy Hale were officially launched as brand ambassadors.
Last May, Joe Jonas of the famed Jonas brothers also made a brief appearance in Manila.
This was followed by members of the popular Korean group Super Junior, Donghae and Siwon who also occupied huge billboards on EDSA.
Adding some singers to the list, Bench also took in Adam Levine, in time for the Maroon 5 concert and another American Idol, Jessica Sanchez who instantly appeared in print ads.
To cap off their list is Korean heartthrob Lee Min Ho of Boys Over Flowers and City Hunter.
PEP asked Penshoppe’s brand director Alex Mendoza why they decided to get foreign celebrities to endorse their brand.
According to him, “We wanted to give a very visible, very buzz-worthy push to the brand last year.
“The other elements of the brand marketing mix were already much improved, so we wanted to add a very special icing to the cake.”
Has this kind of marketing strategy been effective, so far, judging from the products’ sales?
He replies, “This kind of branding is effective for as long as the other parts of the brand are ready.
“Buzz is only useful when new-found customers come in and find things they like.
“They must also believe the story of the brand when they enter our stores.
“So, yes, it is effective, and we worked hard to make it so.”
But Alex clarifies, getting international celebrities to endorse their brand doesn’t mean they’re getting rid of their local endorsers.
He said, “We strive to create a complementary environment for both our foreign and local endorsers.
“We are a nationwide brand that benefits from appearances of our endorsers in events around the country. The local endorsers have huge followings.”
It is no secret that the All-Star Campaign ended with Penshoppe cutting ties with Publicity Asia.
WHAT'S IN STORE? Since 2012 has been marked by an unprecedented feat for their brand, what can their followers expect in the coming year?
“We will continue to build our brand in the best ways we know how. There will be some adjustments, of course, as certain goals have already been achieved,” he said.
Fans are dying to know, is One Direction coming to the Philippines to complete the All-Star roster that came to visit the country?
Alex replied, “We are working on that and will have good news in the near future.”
In a similarly optimistic outlook, Bench's Ben Chan explained during a past broadsheet interview:
“The use of international celebrities helps us in penetrating new markets and territories. It brings prestige and adds to the global appeal of the brand as we take it beyond our shores.”
("Battle of celeb endorsers heats up–who will blink first?" by Cheche V. Moral, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 27, 2012.)