In this episode of Digital Primer, Client Service Director Ibarra Villaseran navigates Bobby Simborio’s compelling journey across varied terrains of advertising, from a dynamic full-service Filipino agency to the challenging realm of publishing and the brand side.
The executive director candidly shares how his career trajectory intersected with the advent of digital technology, transforming not only his work but also the entire marketing and communication industry.
From Media Planning to Executive Leadership: The Journey of Bobby Simborio
Bobby Simborio, the Executive Director of the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA), is a seasoned professional with a diverse background in advertising and marketing. In his role since September 2016, Bobby has demonstrated leadership and strategic acumen, steering PANA’s initiatives and fostering industry collaboration. Prior to PANA, he played a crucial role at Max’s Group Inc. for over nine years as the Media, PR, and Relationship Marketing Manager. His responsibilities contributed significantly to the company’s success and growth. Bobby’s career began as a Media Planner at J. Romero and Associates, providing a foundational understanding of media planning. With over two decades of dedicated service, Bobby Simborio is a key influencer and leader, actively shaping the evolution of the advertising and marketing sector in the Philippines.
First Encounter with Digital
Bobby begins by painting a vivid picture of the manual processes that dominated the media planning landscape in the past. He humorously reflects, “I am handling one of the top three major advertisers in the country. So client ko sila. I’m doing media planning, at that time.” The inefficiencies of the analog era are highlighted, with approvals requiring physical signatures and a time-consuming process of sending and receiving documents through messengers.
The turning point in Bobby’s journey occurred when one of the top advertisers in the country introduced the transmission of cost estimates (CEs) via the Internet. Bobby fondly remembers, “I remember my first encounter with digital technology was when this client started introducing, transmitting CE’s, cost estimate, via the internet, via online.” This marked the beginning of the digital era, bringing a paradigm shift to the traditional workflow
Bobby recalls when everything needed to be printed, emphasizing the reliance on fax machines and messengers for document exchanges. He reflects, “Everything before is being printed. So, hindi matipid sa paper [too] that type. It needs to be printed.” The constraints of manual processes, including the absence of laser printers, made every step in media planning a meticulous and time-consuming task.
He also delves into the challenges faced during the early days of incorporating digital into media plans. He highlights the manual outreach to networks and webmasters for banner ads, saying, “The way we do media planning before, yung mga different networks, they have their AEs. Bibisitahin ko din sa office. Dala-dala nila yung mga printed flyers. And then kasama na dun yung rate cards.” The shift from traditional media planning to including digital elements posed challenges in terms of effectiveness and data calculations.
He first noticed digital making its presence felt in media plans. Bobby shares, “The brands, the media platforms, they just started to build their websites at that time.” Digital was in its incubation period, and options for placing digital ads were limited.
With a background in media research, Bobby expresses the hunger for data prevalent in the industry. He contrasts the manual data compilation of the past with the sophisticated tools available today, acknowledging the shift towards more accessible and real-time analytics. “Now, in terms of analytics, it’s just available anytime, unlike before.”
The Necessary Change in Mindset
In the dynamic landscape of marketing and advertising, embracing a necessary change in mindset is crucial for success. Bobby shares his insights in this Adobo Magazine article, drawing from his experiences, particularly in executing the groundbreaking Max’s Chicken All You Can campaign. This campaign not only challenged traditional norms but also exemplified the power of adapting to digital strategies.
Bobby reflects on the transformation in mindset over the past two decades, emphasizing the significant shift towards digital marketing practices. He notes, “There has been a great shift in using not only SEO but digital in general in the past two decades.”
During his agency days, Bobby faced the challenge of integrating digital into media plans. Being more rooted in traditional media, he found it difficult to champion digital initiatives without a personal immersion in the digital landscape. He shares, “It’s not easy for me to understand digital, that time. And I need to embrace digital. I need to embrace it myself.”
Bobby delves into a pivotal moment in his career—the Max’s Chicken All You Can campaign. He discusses the skepticism surrounding the idea of offering unlimited chicken, a departure from the prevalent rice-all-you-can trend. The initial shock and disbelief turned into a success story when a franchise store in Mindanao tested the concept and achieved outstanding results during its anniversary celebration.
Addressing challenges in execution, Bobby recounts the reactions from owners and the decision to launch the campaign nationwide during Max’s 65th-anniversary celebration. The pricing strategy, utilizing billboards (OOH), and leveraging relationships with lifestyle and food bloggers played crucial roles in creating buzz and dispelling doubts.
“The first day when we put up the billboards, our telephone in marketing started to ring. Every minute, tinatanong kami. Ang daming tumawag. Totoo ba to?” he shared.
Bobby emphasizes the power of word-of-mouth marketing and customer experience during the campaign. Students and customers of all ages flocked to Max’s stores, creating a memorable and successful promotional event. The campaign achieved its objective of creating new memories for the next generation of Max’s customers.
“We believe during that time that we are on the right track. We’re getting, [we’re hitting] our objective because we want to create new memories with the new generation market,” he added.
As the campaign concluded successfully, Bobby expressed his pride in being part of the team that executed the Max’s Chicken All You Can campaign. He emphasizes the role of the entire marketing team in turning the initial concept into a memorable legacy for Max’s.
The journey through the Max’s Chicken All You Can campaign serves as a testament to the necessity of embracing a change in mindset. Bobby’s experiences highlight the challenges of introducing digital strategies, the importance of relationships in influencer marketing, and the power of innovation in creating successful marketing campaigns. Max’s campaign remains a shining example of how a bold and unconventional idea can not only overcome skepticism but also leave a lasting impact on the brand’s legacy.
Navigating Digital Frustrations
Bobby also shares his concerns about the challenges posed by digital platforms, emphasizing the impact of misuse, ethical dilemmas, and the role of individuals and organizations in fostering a healthier digital environment.
He kicks off his frustrations with a common woe—internet connection issues. While acknowledging the efforts of telecommunication companies to provide reliable services, he highlights the occasional lapses that hinder a seamless digital experience. The frustration with internet connectivity becomes a recurring theme throughout the discussion, underscoring its pivotal role in shaping one’s perception of the digital realm.
“I mean, I know that the telcos… nowadays, I know that the telcos are doing their best to provide good service. Pero, there are times that it’s really bad,” he said.
Beyond technical glitches, Bobby delves into a more profound concern—digital abuse. From threats of violence and discrimination to doxing and the dissemination of fake news, the dark side of the digital world raises ethical questions. With staggering statistics on internet and social media users in the Philippines, Bobby emphasizes the potential harm that can arise if digital platforms are not used responsibly.
“So just imagine how damage it can cause you as a person. And if you’re a brand person if such abuse will continue, I think that is one of those that somehow frustrates you,” he added.
“If you are not handling a brand, I’m sure you have your ethics. So it should start from within you. But if you’re engaged in working in an organization or a company, there are also some company organization policies and ethics that you need to implement. So I think it’s a small step in achieving, serving my frustration, or making the digital platform a better space to work with. So sometimes it frustrates me how digital as a platform can destroy a person or can destroy the whole world,” he finally said.
Embracing the Digital Frontier: A Glimpse into the Future
From simplifying data analysis to revolutionizing how we communicate and work, Bobby sheds light on the possibilities in the digital landscape.
Having experienced the manual labor of a media planner in the past, he underscores the revolutionary shift that digital technology has brought. In just one click, analytics become readily available for comprehensive pre and post-analysis of digital campaigns, enabling quicker decision-making and strategy refinement.
“You can just get analytics, which you can use for pre and post-analysis of your digital campaign. So, especially now, like what I mentioned, in a week or two or three weeks, you can see if you hit your target with analytics,” Bobby said.
Digital technology has connected people globally, fostering communication and collaboration irrespective of geographical distances. He explores the growing consideration of abandoning physical offices in favor of remote work, highlighting the resilience and adaptability of digital solutions.
“Technology has connected people all over the world, enabling communication and collaboration across borders and time zones,” he said.
Amidst the excitement, Bobby acknowledges the need for responsible digital practices. Reflecting on his frustrations with digital abuse and misinformation, he urges individuals and organizations to use the platform conscientiously. The discussion becomes a plea for ethical considerations in the ever-expanding digital universe.
“Overall, I believe that technology has the potential to improve our lives in countless ways, and that excites me about it. I just hope people will be more responsible in using the platform. Every journey begins with a single step. Imagine digital if it is being used to make this world a better place. Just imagine,” he added.
Harnessing the Power of Data
In the fast-paced world of marketing, where data reigns supreme, Bobby shares invaluable insights for young marketers aiming to navigate the complexities of the digital landscape. Emphasizing the abundance of available data and the need for its proper utilization, Bobby sheds light on the joy of exploring diverse bases to enhance marketing strategies.
Bobby’s tip is straightforward yet powerful—use the data available to you. Drawing from his experience, he acknowledges the shift from limited data in the past to the wealth of information accessible today. “Now that you have a lot of data that you need to use, you need to explore on, to back up your strategies and recommendations. Use the data because it’s there already,” he emphasized.
Bobby encourages marketers to embrace technology, especially in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Acknowledging that not everyone needs to be a digital expert, he emphasizes the importance of learning the basics and staying progressive.”But at least we got to learn the basics and be progressive about this platform because digital evolves rapidly. And I’m sure we don’t want to be left behind.”
He also stressed the significance of two sets of data—platform data and customer insights. While platform data is readily available, Bobby reminds marketers not to overlook the importance of firsthand customer insights. Drawing from his experience with a restaurant brand, he advocates for marketers to engage directly with customers, treating their feedback and complaints as constructive insights.
“Talk to the customer. Be with them. You can just ask them from the menu that they used to order, for the branch that they love visiting, and the media that they can utilize, that they are currently using. From there, what better way of putting all these together in one report and sharing this or making this as a backup to your strategy recommendation? I think that’s very, very valuable, more than any research in the world,” he concluded.
The Digital Primer Podcast continues to provide valuable insights and practical strategies for marketers and digital enthusiasts. Listeners can gain inspiration and actionable advice from industry leaders like Bobby Simborio.
To access the full episode featuring Bobby, listen in and subscribe.
About Bobby Simborio
Bobby Simborio, the seasoned Executive Director of the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA), is a distinguished professional with a rich and diverse background in the field of advertising and marketing.
His current role as Executive Director at PANA, a position he has held since September 2016, underscores his leadership and strategic acumen within the realm of national advertising. In this capacity, Bobby has been instrumental in steering PANA’s initiatives and fostering collaboration within the industry.
Before his impactful tenure at PANA, Bobby honed his expertise during a significant period at Max’s Group Inc. Here, he served as the Media, PR, and Relationship Marketing Manager from November 2006 to May 2016, amassing a wealth of experience over nine years and seven months. His multifaceted role involved overseeing media advertising, public relations, and relationship marketing, contributing significantly to the success and growth of Max’s Group Inc.
Bobby’s journey in the advertising landscape traces back to his formative years as a Media Planner at J. Romero and Associates, where he spent a decade from June 1995 to May 2005. This foundational experience equipped him with a strong understanding of media planning and laid the groundwork for his subsequent impactful roles in the industry.
With over two decades of dedicated service, Bobby Simborio has not only witnessed but actively shaped the evolution of the advertising and marketing sector in the Philippines. His commitment to excellence, coupled with his extensive experience across various facets of the industry, positions him as a key influencer and leader in the dynamic world of national advertising.