Sunday, May 18, 2008


Sometime in June of 1988 we started training our first two batches of STore MaRkeTing or SMART Coordinators. They were our counterpart of McD's STARs (STore Activities Representatives) and were tasked with basically 2 things: 1) Implement local store marketing activities that would build store's sales and 2) Do customer relations and community relations activities to build customer goodwill.

My Training department worked closely with our Local Store Marketing (LSM) group in developing the training program that would produce these cadre of store-based marketing representatives.

Because they were going to be called "SMART" Coordinators we had to make sure that the people we hired were indeed smart. Our HR Recruitment and Operations representatives meticulously screened candidates for about six months until we were able to complete 2 batches of 12 SMART Trainees for our first pilot run of the program.

Since we did not have any idea of what these people were supposed to be doing we resorted to "counter-intelligence" tactics. We asked our managers who came from McD to brief us on what the STARs did by way of Key Result Areas (KRAs) and what they were supposed to do on a day-to-day basis.

For several months, I paid visits to McDonald's stores and observed the red-coated STARs as they went about their jobs. For example, I noticed that the McD STARs would go around and sometimes give novelty items to kids, or invite customers for a store tour,activities which we would also include in our own SMART's job descriptions.

Looking back, I can say that we had a good start to our own program.

The 24 SMARTs we hired lived up to expectations in that they executed what we taught them. One SMART (from JB Circle),for instance, really walked around her store's retail trading area and identified possible traffic generators. Another one (from the former JB Crossroads Arcade) was so good in customer relations that she impressed our then EVP S' Ato Tanmantiong with her skills in talking with customers.

As in any start up effort we had our share of problems. For one, some of our SMARTs were placed in high volume stores such that they did not need to initiate any new LSM efforts, and were stuck with just doing customer relations and running birthday parties.

Another problem had to do with the stores' need for additional help. Since the managers looked at the SMARTs as additional hands, more often than note they were "asked" to help out in operations specially during peak periods, to serve customer orders or deal with complaints. This left the SMARTs with little time to conceptualize sales building activities.

When Operations and Marketing finally threshed out the kinks in the system,the SMARTs were able to carry out their duties with maximum effect.

Having the SMARTs around helped Store managers maintain a focus on local store marketing,which had until then been given just a perfunctory effort by managers. As a result of this focus, store sales definitely grew further establishing Jollibee's dominance over it's American rival.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


One of the most intriguing examples of how brand magic works was when Jollibee launched Jolly Bubbles.

I can still remember the reaction of the store managers when Toti Ferriols,our Promotions Officer, "unveiled" this novelty item that was supposed to bring in incremental sales for that quarter. It was more like a collective groan of disappointment, and if you could just read the minds of the managers they were probably saying:"What the @#!!! are these marketing guys thinking?"

Jolly Bubbles was really nothing but soap bubbles in a small plastic container decorated with pictures of the Jollibee mascots. If I recall correctly,there were 4 designs to choose from, and each one cost P20.00 for a minimum food purchase.

Hands were raised after Toti made his pitch on the promotion's sales objectives. The main concern of the managers was how could they expect to sell this thing when cheaper,"unbranded" versions (about P15 -P16) were being peddled by vendors on the sidewalks!

Needless to say,Toti had a bad day that day. But things got worse!

Within the first week of the promotion, the Jolly Bubbles were sold out, and the stores were now asking for replenishment of their stocks. However, since Marketing didn't expect the response to the promo to be this great,they had prepared only so much buffer stock of the item.

The consumers' irrational response to the promo surprised everyone..specially the doubting Thomases among the store managers who didn't believe Jolly Bubbles would sell at all! They had underestimated the power of Brand Jollibee. They did not imagine that just by printing the Jollibee Mascots on something and selling it with the name "Jollibee" would make it saleable.

Toti had the last laugh after all...but he had to first find a way to supply the stores with stocks of Jolly Bubbles.

Since then, Toti's mood became an indicator of whether a promotion was successful or not. If he was calm and cool,then the promo was a flop (i.e. sales were slow so novelty items were abundant in supply .) If he was cranky and hot-tempered,that meant the promotion was a success (i.e., sales were so good, stocks were short in supply.)

After this came the Jolly Flipwatch,where in customers really flipped...but that's another story.