beauty queens

Why Michelle Dee is a perfect fit as Chinabank brand ambassador

Isagani de Castro Jr.

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Why Michelle Dee is a perfect fit as Chinabank brand ambassador

DRAGON. Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Marquez Dee is Chinabank's first brand ambassador in a century.

Screenshot/Michelle Dee IG

Chinabank, the Philippines' 5th largest commercial bank, could have chosen Michelle Dee to enhance its brand equity back in 2016 when she was already a famous model. It didn't.

With the picture of a dragon and the words “Rise of the Dragon” as the backdrop, China Banking Corporation (Chinabank) introduced on Valentine’s Day beauty queen Michelle Dee as its “first brand ambassador” ever since the bank was founded in 1920. 

Michelle is no stranger to the bank. Her grandfather, Dee K. Chiong, was once chairman of the bank in its early years. He helped rebuild and grow the bank after World War 2 to make it one of the largest in the country. It’s now led by the family of the late Henry Sy, founder of Shoe Mart or what is now known as the SM group of companies.

WATCH: Michelle Dee’s family tree, as explained by a Filipino genealogist

WATCH: Michelle Dee’s family tree, as explained by a Filipino genealogist

With this connection, Chinabank could have made Michelle its ambassador when she was already a famous model in 2016. She is the daughter of Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez with film actor-producer Derek Dee.

They could have made Michelle brand ambassador after she won Miss World Philippines in September 2019 but they did not.

Chinabank could have named her brand ambassador after finishing in the top 12 in the Miss World pageant in London in December 2019. She lost, but she persisted.

In 2022, Michelle joined the Miss Universe Philippines in 2022 and finished 2nd in a pageant won by Celeste Cortesi.

Just like Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, she would try again, and the following year, she finally won Miss Universe Philippines 2023

Chinabank could have chosen her brand ambassador right after that, but did not. 

In the Miss Universe 2023 competition in El Salvador, Michelle gave it her all and finished in the Top 10. 

Despite not winning Miss Universe, the Department of Tourism (DOT) chose her as a tourism ambassador

“Thank you for the honor that you have bestowed upon all Filipinos by carrying the flag of the Philippines so excellently and by declaring to the world your love for the Philippines and reminding the world of the many reasons to love the Philippines,” Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco told Michelle on December 1, 2023.

The government beat Chinabank to the draw. 

It took Chinabank two and a half months before bestowing on Michelle the corporate brand ambassadorship. 

Why did it take at least seven years for Chinabank since Michelle became famous to tap her as brand ambassador?

My educated guess is she had to earn it. 

After Chinabank’s announcement, Michelle said: “To be their first brand ambassador in over a century is definitely something momentous – not just for me but for everything I stand for. Thank you for trusting me to share your vision as well and I’m so excited to embark on this journey with you! #Filipinas we have some very exciting projects coming out. Stay tuned.”

There’s an important word in her post that stands out: TRUST. She had to earn the trust of her lolo’s bank first. 

Being a brand ambassador is a difficult choice for many companies. Pick a wrong person and it can backfire on a company’s image. 

Choose a good one and it will help improve a company’s “brand equity” and promote its goals such as attracting more customers that improve a company’s top lines and bottom lines. 

What is brand equity? 

The website best defines it: “Brand equity is the name given to the value of a company’s brand. It’s a measure of overall consumer perceptions of any brand. Those perceptions get shaped by the customer experience that a brand offers.”  

Nowadays, a brand ambassador is often an “influencer,” one with many followers on social media. On Instagram, Michelle has 1.8 million followers. Many companies pay big money to these influencers. In the age of new media, these influencers play a more important role than the traditional tools used by companies to enhance brand equity, such as television and radio advertisements. 

Up to P1.5 billion spent on online political influencers for 2022 PH elections – study

Up to P1.5 billion spent on online political influencers for 2022 PH elections – study

Now, why is Michelle a good fit for Chinabank? 

Chinabank’s owners probably saw what most people have seen in Michelle: a woman who has worked hard in her craft as model, beauty queen, and as representative of the Philippines; a woman who did not let failure crush her but instead persisted; a woman who has taken up good causes such as helping children with autism; a woman who represents and fights for the rights of the minority LGBT community.

Last December, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry recognized her for bringing “immense pride” to the Chinese-Filipino community.

What are the “core values” of Chinabank? 

According to the bank’s website, these are: integrity, high performance standards, commitment to quality, concern for people, customer service focus, resourcefulness/initative, efficiency. 

Chinabank started in Binondo, Manila in August 1920. With P1.4 trillion in assets as of September 2023, Chinabank is now the Philippines’ fifth largest bank behind BDO Unibank Incorporated, Land Bank of the Philippines, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, and Bank of the Philippines Islands. 

It provides banking services and products to corporate, commercial, and retail customers. It has 643 branches and over 1,000 ATMs. Its subsidiaries are Chinabank Capital, Chinabank Securities, Chinabank Insurance Brokers, and Manulife Chinabank Life. 

Corporate governance

In the past few years, Chinabank has been proud of what it has accomplished in a field that is often not mentioned when people talk about a company’s achievements: corporate governance. 

In September 2023, the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) gave Chinabank its second “Five-Golden Arrow Award.” This is the highest recognition given by the independent, nonprofit group to publicly listed companies and insurance firms in the Philippines that “excel in corporate governance.”

The Golden Arrow, according to a Chinabank press statement, seeks to “raise the Philippines’ corporate governance standards and practices to make well-governed Philippine publicly listed companies and insurance companies attractive to investors.” 

It is bestowed on companies that score at least 80 points on a corporate governance scorecard. To score high, a company must pursue the “rights and equitable treatment of shareholders,” and “disclosure and transparency.” Chinabank scored between 120 to 130 points. It has been among the top 3 banks in the Philippines in terms of good corporate governance. 

“This recognition is a testament to Chinabank’s beyond-compliance approach to corporate governance and unwavering commitment to do what is right and to do right by our stakeholders,” said Chinabank chief finance officer Patrick Cheng at the ceremony in September 2023.

Reading Chinabank’s “core values,” it’s easy to see why Michelle is a perfect fit as brand ambassador. She has strived for continuous improvement in what she does so she can be among the best; she has shown high regard for people’s needs and welfare such as children with autism; she has repeatedly told the Filipino people that she tried to satisfy what they want, which is to do well in international beauty pageants; she has shown resourcefulness and initiative; and, she has shown efficiency.

Recapping what she did in 2023, she said in a caption with Vince Myers’ song “I Did It All” as background, “Hard work pays off.”

Why Michelle Dee is a perfect fit as Chinabank brand ambassador

It’s rare for children of successful beauty queens to upstage their mother, but Michelle has been able to do it. I’ve listened to several of her television interviews since she almost won Miss Universe 2023, and she’s given the right answers to most questions thrown at her. 

In several ways, Michelle is like her mother. Aside from the obvious commonalities – beauty, height – they both project authenticity. She probably learned this from her mother as she was growing up. Melanie is known for giving some funny answers thrown at her (e.g. “Don’t judge my brother [Joey Marquez], he is not a book” or  “Why should I have a calling card? I’m not a call girl!”) but she was never afraid to answer them. She was – and still is – truthful. 

One thing I learned from working in a broadcast company for 11 years is that television is a cruel medium. People can see if you’re not sincere or if you’re faking it. Like her mother, Michelle’s the real thing. “I am who I am,” she said when she came out as bisexual.

When she was a young model, she was known as the daughter of Melanie Marquez. Not anymore. She’s Michelle Dee – MMD. –


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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.