How This Filipino Fast Food Chain Won Valentine's Day 2017 in Asia (Prepare Some Tissues)

How This Filipino Fast Food Chain Won Valentine’s Day 2017 in Asia (Prepare Some Tissues) 1.jpg

The hubbub of Valentine’s Day is over, and content marketers can finally step back and look at the numbers they hauled in. All over the world, consumer trends continue to evolve as people’s perceptions and priorities change. Entrepreneur even made a report on Valentine's consumer behavior in the US. (Did you know that pet Valentines are becoming a thing?)  It reveals a lot of information digital marketers can use to adapt to their audience’s shifting needs.

On our side of the pond, however, one brand emerged on top by completely slaying the “love” game. Filipino fast food chain, Jollibee, just upped the local ante with their massively successful Valentine’s campaign. But it wasn’t the theme or the season that made that happen.

It was the content.

Before taking a deeper look into how Jollibee hit the virality bullseye, let’s look at what the fastfood company accomplished.

The Campaign

Jollibee’s campaign consisted of three videos, each just a little less than 3 minutes long. Each video featured a love story, and how it unfolded with the brand in the background. Take a look:

They then took these videos, uploaded them on their Facebook page and Youtube channel, and watched them set the internet on fire.

Its success

The brand uploaded the first two videos, “Vow” and “Crush”, on Facebook on February 9, and the third video, “Date”, the following evening.

By February 11, “Vow” already shot up to 8 million views. As of this writing, the three videos have garnered a combined total of 39.2 million views on Facebook; over 2 million Facebook reactions; 1.2 million shares; and countless comments. Meanwhile on their Youtube channel, the videos have a combined total of over 3.8 million views and almost 5000 comments.

All this in the span of 10 days.

At the end of the last week, Youtube stars including Josh Dave, HugKnucklesTV, and The Dardo Project also joined the bandwagon and posted their reactions to the Jollibee videos. These channels have a total following of over 138,000 subscribers, boosting the Jollibee Valentine’s campaign to a wider and more international audience. As of this writing, the videos have gained an additional 1.2 million views from these channels alone - there’s still more out there.

So how did this fast food giant achieve internet stardom in a week, you ask? By hitting the sweet spot with every ingredient. Take a look:

Narrative-driven plot

How do you stand out in the vast interweb that’s already overcrowded with product ads, random images, and a jumble of words?

By being none of these things. At least, not outright.

Jollibee separated themselves from the deluge of Valentine’s content by selling a feeling. Not a promo, not a product, not even an experience, but an emotion.

By crafting compelling stories, and focusing on the narratives instead of their menu items, Jollibee was able to take the viewers on deeper a journey. Thus giving them more opportunity to relate and connect.

In a study by Jonah Berger, a Marketing professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, he found that the types of content most shared by people are those that create intense positive emotions.

Sure, some of Jollibee’s videos might be tear-jerkers, but the fact that it stirred strong emotions means that it connected.

And connection to the content is crucial to virality.

Appeals to sentiment

In 2016, the Philippines ranked as one of the most emotional countries in the world in a study done by Gallup, an international analytics and consultation firm. This is also apparent in everyday life where the Filipino entertainment industry is ruled by soap operas, love stories, and romance dramas.

Suffice it to say that Filipinos feel. A lot.

Thus, Jollibee’s sentimental videos are a shoe-in for the Filipino’s interest because they  give the audience what they want. It's one thing to elicit an emotion, as Jonah Berger’s study said; it’s another thing to elicit the exact emotion the viewer is looking for.

By mastering the Filipino psyche (a basic in brand identity), the fast food chain was able to create something relevant and interesting specifically for its market.

Emotional plot twists

In a Kissmetrics article on virality, they said that the most shareable content all boils down to five qualities:

  • Surprising
  • Interesting
  • Intense
  • Positive
  • Actionable

Jollibee’s Valentine’s campaign hits the nail perfectly on three of these points with the plot twists at the end of each video. While “Crush” has a happy ending, “Vow” and “Date” are a little more heart-wrenching. Nonetheless, each creates a spike in emotion for the viewer, which makes them more involved with and affected by the story.

And when you’ve found yourself so stirred by something, what do you do?

You hit share.

After all, when you end up involuntarily bawling your eyes out in the office on your lunch break, you probably don’t want to be the only one. Same goes for when you find yourself utterly delighted or shocked, or whathaveyou.

Thus you share the piece of content that gave you those feelings so that others can share the emotions with you.


“Crush”, in particular, tapped into content marketing goldmine with its burger + Post-it note element. This presented a great opportunity for viewers to create a meme, which added a whole new dimension to Jollibee’s marketing.

According the Kissmetrics article, it’s actually consumers who control the message of a meme. A recent Forbes article on how to successfully use memes also stated that a brand forcing it down the consumers’ throat is destined to fail. Instead, it must come naturally.

Whether wittingly or unwittingly, Jollibee’s Valentine’s campaign handed the viewers a meme and allowed them to run away with it.

celebrating love with @Jollibee ?

— Kris Aquino (@hellokris) February 14, 2017

Right after “Crush” was published, photos of Jollibee’s Yum Burger with Post-it notes flooded Filipinos’ Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Some featured screen grabs with added captions or side remarks. Others Photoshopped the screen grab and wrote their own message on the Post-it. The screen grab is already available for modification on Yet others were photos of actual Yum Burgers with real, hand-written Post-it notes.

This basically made the Yum Burger + Post-it a free, self-moving, and self-propagating marketing machine.Jollibee let the people take over their promotional campaign without actually telling them to.

And they did this all for free.

In conclusion

By creating videos that connected strongly with the viewers – content that surprised them, gave them joy, and made them feel intense emotions – Jollibee’s Valentine’s campaign met all the requirements of what makes content shareable.

The campaign became an even bigger success when they added meme-worthy elements. This created an avenue for free, continuous marketing, which required no additional effort from Jollibee, because it allowed the audience to take over.

Thus, Jollibee’s videos are a great example on virality because the combined simplicity of the medium plus the richness of the content create an elegant strategy to propel something as humble as fastfood.

And this is content marketing at its finest.