#ThinkPH 2017: Humanizing stories through digital and big data

Marj Casal Handog
#ThinkPH 2017: Humanizing stories through digital and big data
Speakers from Uber, We Are Social, Nestle, and Dentsu Aegis Network showed us how in the age of digital and big data, being human remains the best strategy

MANILA, Philippines – Big data. Blockchains. Innovation. Digital. These are just some of the common buzzwords we hear in the world of technology today. But beyond harnessing technological breakthroughs, the single most effective way to tell stories remains simple and timeless: just be human.

At #ThinkPH 2017 at the SMX Convention Center on Saturday, July 15, Laurence Cua, General Manager at Uber Philippines, Simon Kemp, Founder, Kepios, and Global Consultant at We Are Social, Paolo Mercado, Senior VP for Marketing, Communication, and Innovation at Nestle Philippines, and Donald Lim, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines, talked about how data can be used not only to improve businesses but more importantly, to understand and serve consumers better. 

Shaping cities by providing options

After disrupting the transportation industry with its ride-sharing app, Uber has adapted to the needs of its consumers by providing more options like Uber Pool and Uber Hop.

Uber’s service base continues to evolve because they want to look beyond profits and metrics, said Cua. With carpooling, fares become more affordable, and the number of cars on the road is reduced, cutting down carbon dioxide emissions.

Laurence Cua, General Manager, Uber Philippines. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

“Uber’s mission all over the world is to move cities. But we realized that in order to move cities, we need to move individual lives,” said Cua. “Uber is more than just a platform that connects riders and drivers. Uber has become a tech that changes lives.” 

With this in mind, Uber has become more than an app. And with people looking for smarter solutions to reach their destinations, for Cua and Uber Philippines, there is no turning back.

Don’t panic, participate

“Connected tech is now an integral part of everyday life for most people in the world. But our increasing reliance on connected tech is starting to change the way our brains work,” said Kemp.

This, however, shouldn’t be a cause for panic but instead an opportunity to participate. With more than half the world already online, one million users connected everyday, and in the Philippines alone, 50,000 new users per day, being a tech-savvy brand or business is the way to go.

Simon Kemp, Founder, Kepios, and Global Consultant, We Are Social. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Consumers are changing the way they remember things, such as Googling something instead of racking their brains to think. So they also need to rethink user experience, Kemp said. In the advent of voice control devices like Siri and Alexa, and what’s now known as “decisionless shopping,” even the pronunciation of a brand name is crucial to its success.  

By changing the way we tell stories, and by constantly evolving with consumers and the way they experience things, we don’t have to be afraid of being left behind.

Marketing to the connected consumer

When Greenpeace launched a campaign against KitKat in 2010, Nestle was caught off guard. The brand’s social media pages were attacked. And their social media managers, not really sure what to do, fought back, making the situation much, much worse.

This scandal that started on social media and was then taken by the activists to the streets, in front of one of Nestle’s global offices, prompted the brand to launch a Digital Acceleration Program. Nestle brought some of its people to Switzerland to undergo an 8-month training in digital.

Paolo Mercado,Senior VP for Marketing, Communication, and Innovation, Nestle Philippines. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

“We realized we don’t know how to manage social media,” said Mercado.

They learned about digital but they also learned more about the people who care about their products by mapping out the consumer journey and personalizing the engagement. Now, Nestle brands are all over social media, topping the Youtube ads leaderboards, and the minds of its consumers.     


Tell stories the human way

In advertising, many brands and agencies get excited by digital and tech that sometimes they forget they’re supposed to tell stories.

“If you want to do digital, you have to look at the entire media landscape,” said Lim.

Donald Lim, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

This means considering the value of TV, radio, outdoor, and print – the whole ecosystem –whenever you’re creating a campaign “for digital.” According to Lim, people who buy in sari-sari stores learn about brands through noon time TV shows like Eat Bulaga. And these are the real people your brand should be talking to.

Lim also reminds us that websites and apps are just platforms and that we should look beyond them. We should focus on capturing the human experience so brands become more relatable and approachable.


“Digital only rarely succeeds. Make digital a part of the human system,” he concluded.

The day-long digital summit featured speakers who tackled the connection between humanity, culture, and technology, and how we can harness innovation and creativity for progress. Read more stories here. – 

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Marj Casal Handog

Marj Casal heads the content team of BrandRap, Rappler’s sales and marketing arm. She helps create native advertising campaigns for brands like San Miguel Brewery, Shell, GCash, Grab, BDO, and more.