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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Top PH industry players joined hands to launch stronger content protection, anti-piracy efforts

Manila, Philippines – Top industry players in the Philippines including, Globe, GMA Network, Cignal TV, KROMA Entertainment, and Smart Communications have joined hands with the Asia Video Industry Association’s (AVIA) Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) to announce the formation of the Video Coalition of the Philippines (VCP).

The VCP aims to push for stronger intellectual property protection in the country that will protect both original content and users, as well as promote the Philippines’ creative and media industries, not only in the Philippines but around the world.

VCP convenors will also be building on the momentum of the presentation of the proposed Revised Intellectual Property Code in the Philippines’ 19th Congress in July and the recent Protection of Online Content Summit held on September 2 in Manila. House Bill No. 0799, filed by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, aims to update the Philippines’ patent application system and make it ‘more attuned to the digital age’. It also ‘provides for technologies and media that were not anticipated’ at the time the intellectual property code was enacted.

Moreover, proposed revisions give regulators greater authority to combat IP violations, including the power to issue ‘permanent blocking orders, takedown orders, cease-and-desist, or disable access orders’ against websites, service providers, and online platforms, including social media. The current IP code does not cover electronic or online content in its definition of pirated goods and lacks clear provisions that would allow for efficient and effective site blocking, and other interventions against online IP violations.

Matt Cheetham, CAP’s general manager, said, “With the presentation of Bill No. 0799, ‘An Act Establishing for the Revised Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines’ to the House, the Philippines has a golden opportunity to not only update and future proof its intellectual property regime, but to act as a launching pad for intellectual property to protect consumers and advance the overall Philippine economy.” 

Cheetham further noted CAP’s recent YouGov survey showed Philippine consumers believe a government regulation for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block pirated content would be the most effective measure to reduce piracy in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Anton Bonifacio, Globe’s chief information security officer, said, “Revising the Intellectual Property Code will go a long way in protecting Filipino consumers from the dangers that lurk in pirate sites and improving cybersecurity in the country, especially as Filipinos now rely heavily on digital platforms.”

Jil Go, KROMA’s head of broadcast and publishing, noted, “Upholding intellectual property rights in the Philippines enables the creative industry to grow and thrive. KROMA, through the Video Coalition of the Philippines, is committed to collaborating with stakeholders to ensure that this is observed, for the industry’s success and sustainability.”

Joseph T. Francia, GMA International’s first vice president and head of operations, said, “GMA’s participation in the Video Coalition of the Philippines presents an opportunity to further strengthen our existing anti-piracy initiatives by working with other players in the industry to push for the implementation of site blocking mechanisms and help protect our viewers and GMA content against unauthorised uploaders.”

Pointing to the impact of site blocking in Indonesia, where traffic to pirate sites has dropped by more than 75% since the government implemented their rolling site blocking procedures in 2019, Cheetham further noted, “The effectiveness of site blocking is backed up by CAP’s most recent YouGov consumer surveys in which more than 50% of Indonesian consumers say that they have stopped or rarely access pirate services as a result of the highly efficient and effective blocking measures in place there.”

“Perhaps, more importantly, 76% of Indonesian consumers say they are accessing more legal content and pirating less, and 26% have subscribed to legitimate sources as a result of illegal streaming sites being blocked. Blocking as an educational tool may also be evident in 95% of Indonesian consumers agreeing that online piracy does have negative consequences – the highest in the region,” said Cheetham.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

PLDT, Smart deepen support for gender equality with latest campaign

Manila, Philippines — The Philippines’ fully integrated telco company, PLDT, and its mobile unit Smart Communications continue to champion gender equality in the workplace. In a recent campaign, the group showcased how women thrive, amid rapid technological changes in the telecommunications industry.

Now in its second year, the group’s “Yes, She Can” campaign highlighted the important role of women in the workplace, through digital activities and webisodes featuring female employees of various roles and persona.

Gina P. Ordonez, chief people officer of PLDT and Smart, shared, “We celebrate women and the many hats they wear everyday—as hardworking people in the organization, mothers, wives, daughters and talented individuals.”

Ordonez added, “We will continue to provide female employees with opportunities to pursue their passion and purpose, and to achieve success in the organization.“

As an equal opportunity employer, gender equality is high on the agenda of the group’s Environment, Social and Governance initiatives. This is evident in its leadership team, where 58% of direct reports to the CEO, 40% of executives, and 23% of board members are women.

PLDT and Smart’s commitment to gender equality may also be seen in the partnerships that the group has built throughout the years. Via a collaboration with the Philippine Eagle Foundation, PLDT has helped bridge the digital divide in upland communities of Arakan, North Cotabato, by equipping women with technological tools and skills. In partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, the group also works with Solidarity with Orphans and Widows, a community in Payatas Quezon City, for livelihood opportunities.

Additionally, in 2021, PLDT and Smart became the first Philippine telcos that signed up as members of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment, in an effort to achieve large-scale organizational transformation through evidence-based strategies and best practices in the workplace.

Melissa V. Vergel de Dios, chief sustainability officer of PLDT, said, “At PLDT and Smart, women are taking their rightful place at the table, proving that in our organization, one’s worth is not defined by gender, but by capability. This is a source of encouragement and inspiration for us all—in the workplace, and in the communities we serve.”

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Smart named as official telco partner for SEA esports tourney MSC 2022

Manila, Philippines — Philippine-based telecommunications giant, Smart Communications, has been named as the telco partner for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) tournament with MSC or MLBB Southeast Asia Cup for the fifth year. The tournament will be held in the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre from June 11 to 19, 2022.

The competition boasts a US$300,000 total prize pool, which doubled from last year. Aside from the cash prize, the winners will also be hailed as the undisputed champions of Southeast Asia. Smart’s very own esports team, Smart Omega, is the defending MSC champion and will participate in the tourney to defend their crown.

Meanwhile, RSG Philippines and Smart Omega will carry the flag and compete against the top 12 teams from the region; specifically Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

Smart will enable mobile gamers and fans to support the Filipino esports athletes and catch them in all their matches by streaming the MSC Tournament on Smart’s official Facebook Page, aside from Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s official social media channels.

Smart’s support for MSC is in line with its longstanding push to promote Philippine esports and cultivate the passion, skill, and talent of Filipino esports athletes and mobile gamers.

Aside from organizing the country’s biggest esports events and backing Filipino esports athletes, Smart supports gamers with the recent launch of Smart GIGA Arena, the country’s first all-in-one esports platform that aims to simply bring the total esports experience to mobile gamers who are looking to test their skills on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and more.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Smart, SM’s tech outfit SM Cyberzone brings MPL Playoffs on mall’s cinemas

Manila, Philippines – Mobile services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has partnered with SM Cyberzone to bring the big screen experience of esports to fans. Through the partnership, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League – Philippines Playoffs will be streamed in select cinemas of SM, such as SM BF Paranaque, SM Bicutan, and SM Sucat. 

SM will be showing the Season 9 Playoffs in eight (8) SM Cinemas from April 28 to May 1, 2022, within the said mall locations, fans can purchase tickets from SM Cinema’s official website, SM Cinema app, or via the ticket booths to cheer for their favourite teams. Tickets include a free popcorn and MLBB freebies for cinema-goers.

Precy P. Katigbak, first VP and head of national key accounts at PLDT and Smart, shared, “Our partnership with SM for this event is aligned with our goal — to give our customers the best experience. Smart has always been supportive of the passions of our customers, particularly in esports.”

Katigbak added, “We have been empowering over 43 million gamers in the Philippines through our reliable 4G/LTE and 5G network, affordable products and services, and activities that help develop the esports industry in our country.”

Telco Smart has also recently marked its fifth year of partnership with Shanghai-based international gaming developer, MOONTON Games, as the official telco partner for all Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Pro League (MPL) Philippines tournaments in 2022. 

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Sun Postpaid to be rebranded as Smart Postpaid

Manila, Philippines – The postpaid service of local telco Sun Cellular is rebranding to Smart Postpaid, the postpaid offering of telco Smart. This officially comes into effect by April 25.

It should be recalled that Sun has been integrated in Smart’s mobile network infrastructure and corporate management since 2016. In 2020, Sun’s corporate logo featured a subline saying ‘Powered by Smart’, and its prepaid offering was previously rebranded to Smart Prepaid as well in the same year.

In line with the rebranding, all Sun Postpaid or Sun Broadband packages and products will no longer be available.

In addition, a user’s Sun Postpaid number will become a Smart Postpaid number. The telco assures that the user will still be able to use their existing SIM and plan inclusions. Meanwhile, for postpaid needs, Smart encourages new customers to avail of Smart Signature plans and get access to all the great features and benefits of being a Smart Postpaid subscriber.

“All consumer Sun Postpaid, Sun Broadband and Sun FLP subscribers will become Smart Postpaid on April 25, 2022 and will be able to enjoy the full range of available services from Smart Postpaid. This will only cover all the active and individual Sun Postpaid accounts. Sun Postpaid Corporate account users will not yet be covered in this activity,” Smart said in an online statement.

Sun Cellular was previously under Digitel Mobile Philippines, which was then acquired by PLDT in 2011.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Telco Smart to aid South Korea-based esports org T1 in PH expansion

Philippines — PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications has struck an agreement with South Korea’s T1, one of the pioneering esports organizations in the world. Through the partnership, Smart will provide facilities that will assist T1’s expansion in the Philippines.

As part of its goal to boost the esports industry in the country, Smart will house the online MOBA game DOTA 2 Team of T1 and power its connectivity during their boot camp and tournaments. Three Filipino esports athletes are also part of T1’s roster: Carlo ‘Kuku’ Palad, Khim ‘Gabbi’ Villafuerte, and Karl Jayme.

Jude H. Turcuato, first vice president and head of sports at PLDT and Smart, said that they are more than delighted to help their former coach Kuku and welcome T1 to the Philippines. Turcuato added that this is part of Smart’s advocacy to help develop esports in the Philippines and empower Filipino esports athletes as they make their mark in the global arena.

“We just want to take this opportunity to thank Smart and Smart Omega for helping us with our boot camp. They have also helped us get professional IT support on standby, especially during official matches. The facilities are good, and the place is safe as well,” Palad said.

Smart Omega is the professional esports team backed by Smart.

T1, along with eight other squads in the region, is set to play in the Southeast Asia Dota Pro Circuit Division I this month. T1 won first place in the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 Season 2 – SEA Upper Division and ESL One Summer 2021; second place for DPC SEA 2021-2022 Tour 1 Regional Finals, and landing in the top 7-8 of The International 10 in 2021. Founded in 2003, T1 is also known for their three-time world championship title for League of Legends.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

SM partners with Smart for SM Cyberzone’s Game Fest 2022

Philippines — Telecommunications company PLDT’s wireless division Smart communication is partnering with SM to bring back SM Cyberzone Game Fest this year, a gaming event that features esports tournaments, a meet-and-greet with influencers, new product displays, sales and many more.

Precy P. Katigbak, FVP and head of national key accounts at PLDT and Smart, commented that they are excited to support Filipino esports athletes and gaming enthusiasts from all walks of life, by providing the best experience and the fastest LTE and 5G mobile network to power their game.

“With our massive network rollout and through our partnership with SM Cyberzone, we hope to empower our digital-savvy customers as they pursue their passions in mobile gaming and technology,” Katigbak said.

Mark Ramilo, group marketing manager of Cyberzone, said, “Throughout the years, we have been supporting the gaming community here in the country. Through SM Cyberzone’s Game Fest, we provide them with a venue to celebrate their passion for gaming. We want to help them further elevate their game through the latest tech-assured products that we have in Cyberzone.”

Smart also introduced GIGA Arena at the event. GIGA Arena is the country’s first all-in-one platform that aims to bring the total esports experience to the fingertips of subscribers. Open to all Smart and TNT customers, GIGA Arena lets users match up with fellow players to compete in daily, weekly, and monthly tournaments on gigarena.smart for prestige and cash prizes.

Aside from enabling users to compete in live tournaments, the all-in-one platform also comes with innovative features that allow mobile gamers to set up tournaments, stream live competitions, play arcade games, purchase e-load, and conveniently link their e-wallet to secure their tournament winnings via GigaPay with PayMaya, among others.

In partnership with Smart, SM Cyberzone Game Fest also recently held its first all-women Mobile Legends tournament. Smart and SM Cyberzone are also set to enable other community tournaments all throughout the three-month campaign.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

New report unveils the ‘bad’ strategies PH telcos play—and how they can flip it

Manila, Philippines – As more and more telco users vent out online in regards to issues with their communication providers, the Internet has now become a new hub for telco players to create critical data-driven decisions in improving their services, new report from media intelligence and insights business Isentia.

The report had uncovered customer sentiments on social media and how these experiences from the services provided by Philippine ISPs, fold into every Filipino’s digital consumer journey. 

Isentia noted that netizens frequently take their frustrations to the comments section of Facebook Pages to express opinions and share their user experience. Once posted, these comments, especially those like complaints, can be picked up by other consumers and spread like wildfire. 

Taking for instance telco provider PLDT, when they issued an advisory that its users may experience slow or intermittent internet services and emerged as the top trending topic for that day, generating negative tweets from subscribers. While PLDT responded with a statement justifying the quality of internet services that day, it could not temper further unfavourable discussions surrounding the incident.

Isentia also noted that customers also complain about how telcos like Globe resort to ‘automated replies’ instead of immediate action from the company. Criticisms on how ‘repetitive’ and ‘insulting’ the templated reply saying, ‘We don’t want you to feel that way…’ dominated the discussions.

“Internet access has been and will continue to be a basic necessity in every household. But, from the perspective of many, these internet service providers are struggling to consistently satisfy its customers’ needs. From sluggish connection speed to poor customer service, a lot are voicing out their complaints publicly where everyone can see the quality of service that they provide,” said Francis Calucin, insights analyst at Isentia.

Despite efforts from local telco players to improve their marketing strategies, netizens often have mixed to negative views about them. For instance, many netizens have complained about telco Smart Communications that they don’t need a foreign ambassador or endorser but instead improve first on their telco services, following the telco’s announcement of Hollywood actor Chris Evans as one of its newest endorsers, aside from the rise of Korean drama stars and pop stars as well taking helm as brand ambassadors as well.

Another example is how netizens often have mixed thoughts about service provider CONVERGE’s use of memes, which was met with some harbored unfavourable comments while others see the strategy of injecting memes in its content producing a significant traction for the brand to the delight of other netizens.

Amid the bad light to the local telco players, Filipino netizens are inclined to switch networks, specifically with the new player DITO Telecommunications. Despite early approval of the franchise, the telco isn’t also safe from criticisms, such as complaints on roll-out and delivery of their SIM cards necessary for their services to work. In addition, Isentia also noted that they have recorded claims that certain high-end phones were the only ones compatible with DITO’s mobile data services, as well as fears from the public that the telco is allegedly a medium for China to spy, risking the security and privacy of Filipinos.

“Since the pandemic, telco companies have had to step up their game. In the Philippines, they were directed by the President himself to amp up their services. This study looks into conversations on the top telco industry players and dabbles on one of the newer ones who raked in hundreds of thousands of buzz in a single month. Companies can leverage trendspotting studies like this to harvest and pinpoint relevant insights and themes from organic conversations about their services and industry,” said Victoria Lazo, insights manager at Isentia Philippines.

Isentia recommended in its report that companies need to invest more in improving their messaging by streamlining and personalising conversations and responding to customer issues. This is a source of rabid responses from users that could greatly reflect and affect the image and reputation of a brand. Also, telco companies can migrate discussions to more private avenues – SMS, private messages, and emails – to address their concerns and avoid being bombarded with comments of unfavourable nature.

They also noted that telcos can promote an arena of competitiveness to cause market disruption. Telco companies can explore throwing in deals and freebies to cascade the value for money message, in response to embracing regulation and competition.

In regards to marketing, Isentia recommends that local personas can work better. Brands can tap multiple personalities across their campaigns and do not have to stick to just one throughout an entire period. Messaging and creativity of the promotion are vital points to be considered. The public now craves more organic promotions/marketing efforts over traditional ones, which will help appeal to the younger generations.

“Having a data-driven approach in finding out what competitors or the industry as a whole has been doing will help brands close in performance gaps and identify key areas they can work on to boost their growth. Trendspotting reports such as this aim to encourage brands to look outside of their business and understand the industry better so they can formulate informed strategies and come up with relevant initiatives,” Kate Dudang, insights manager at Isentia Philippines, stated.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

PH telco Smart’s new ambassador K-pop group BTS an advent of ‘telco war’

Manila, Philippines – Two of Philippines’ telco giants Globe and Smart have been continuously tapping Korean superstars for the past year, and this time the rival has just been taken up a notch. 

On Monday, Smart Communications shocked Filipino fans by unveiling its new ambassador, K-pop group and global superstars BTS across its social media platforms. This comes shortly after telco Globe revealed K-pop girl group Blackpink as its new endorser. 

BTS will be headlining Smart’s campaign this year, ‘Live Smarter, Live with Purpose’.

Smart has been aggressive in the past months roping in Korean entertainment stars as part of their expanding network of brand ambassadors, including 2020 K-drama “Crash Landing On You” stars Hyun Bin and Son Ye-Jin in May and August last year respectively and Korean actor Park Seo-Joon in October last year as well.

Considered to be one of the most influential groups in the K-pop scene, BTS has been known for sending a timely message of comfort and hope to fans everywhere through their music.

Formed in 2010, BTS is composed of an all-boys ensemble Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, and are best known for their hit songs ‘Mic Drop’, ‘Fake Love’, ‘Blood, Sweat & Tears’ and their English single ‘Dynamite’.

“Aside from their remarkable talent, BTS emerged as the biggest band in the world because of their meaningful and uplifting music that brings hope and encouragement to fans especially in the bleakest of times. It is, therefore, a big honor to welcome BTS to the Smart family so we may inspire more Filipinos to find purpose in everything they do and ultimately live Smarter for a Better World,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart president and CEO.

“Just like BTS who are able to inspire millions of young people all over the world through their music, Smart Prepaid aims to bring about amazing experiences to the Filipino youth through technology to make life easy, fast, and simple. This way, the young generation is empowered to immerse in their interests and succeed with their pursuits,” said Jane J. Basas, SVP and consumer wireless business head at Smart.

BTS’ campaign with smart is set to be released by the first quarter of the year, centered around the theme of ‘passion with purpose’.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

PH telco Smart to welcome 2021 with star-studded year-ender concert

Manila, Philippines – Local telco giant Smart is hosting a year-ender concert titled RESET 2021, a welcome to the incoming year through original Filipino music (OPM) from some of the country’s well-known OPM personalities.

RESET 2021 will be graced by performances from artists Bamboo, The Itchyworms, Unique Salonga, as well as R&B artist Kiana Valenciano, alternative rock band She’s Only Sixteen, and disc jockeys Ace Ramos and MC Pao Avila.

The year-ender concert is a prelude to the telco’s ‘GigaFest’, a whole season of celebration featuring world-class entertainment, esports tournaments, digital innovations, promos, and freebies to give back to all loyal and new Smart subscribers all over the country, including their latest raffle promo GIGAMANIA that gives Smart users a chance to win smartphones, free data and P1M cash during the weekly draws.

“After a most challenging year, we are one with our nation in hoping for a brighter and better 2021. This is the time to find our footing once again, rise together, and #OWN2021 with a sense of renewed purpose,” said Jane J. Basas, SVP and head of consumer wireless business at Smart

Prior to this virtual concert, Smart has hosted several online concerts, including Dua Lipa and her “Studio 2054” last November, and the 2020 Mnet ASIAN MUSIC AWARDS (2020 MAMA) earlier in the month.

RESET 2021 will be streamed live on Smart’s YouTube channel on December 31, and will be available for simulcast on local channels TV5 and Cignal on the same date at 10:40 pm.