As most of you would know, I served with MVA for many years and I continue today but in a different capacity. Most of you know as well that Saipanda is just a play of words to target the Japanese travelers. However, what you did not know was how this character was admired and enjoyed not only from the Japanese, but Koreans, Chinese, Russian and other guest who see this odd looking panda bear that is unique in its own respect.
You see, the logic behind Saipanda was to lure interest by developing an icon that does not necessarily state representation of the destination as most of you think, but to be used as a hook. Once the bait and hook is thrown, while reeling it in, the character becomes smaller and placed in a variety of advertisement images of the destination for recognition. Saipanda served its purpose and continues to do just that. I've heard why not a coconut crab, or a deer, or a bird, or even a dolphin, an eagle ray. All great ideas, but not catchy, not odd looking enough, weird, or simply outrageously funny looking.
At first, even myself as I was with the MVA did not understand the concept, but as I learned its uses and its positive functions to build recognition, today it has become the CNMI's most successful campaign stemming since 2000. Remember, this Saipanda was designed and created by one of Japan's largest and most successful advertising firms, how would you say their creativity does not fit the category we are pursuing-Tourism.
I speak of my own voice in this and no one elses's. You may disagree and that is perfecty fine as I do have my own say in this matter as well. Saipanda has allowed us to generate sufficient global recognition, it has won awards on a global scale, our $60K marketing scheme beat that of major countries globally at the PATA Gold Awards who have invested hundreds of thousands if not millions in marketing schemes like Saipanda, but yet we won. How can you say we need to change, or throw out the concept? I think we need to reinvent Saipanda to be more out there, more presence, and visibility in tandem with destination images, because we are using what is already instilled in the minds.
Its easy to criticize as I do it at times, and when you do, at least look at the facts. This marketing scheme is well recognized in Japan and Korea and in some areas of China. Guam looked at our concept and tried their own weird character called barefoot, but failed. These are marketing gimmicks that stick to one persons head, that means we have SUCCEEDED. Take your head out of thinking its for the islands, its not, its for capturing visibility and recognition on a global scale.