Concept/Pitch: Produce 101 Philippines

It doesn’t take long after something like Mnet’s Produce 101 franchise has taken over the world that many wonder when the Philippines can come in and attempt to undertake a local version of the format.

And after four hugely successful seasons of the Korean mothership, two seasons in China and the start of Japan’s own search for the next superstars, the idea of a #PD101PH only gets more and more attractive. For both fans and networks alike.

Personally, I’m always leery of any Philippine network attempting to produce a local version of an international property, scripted or reality. But there have been some faithful and creative successes (Survivor Philippines, The Amazing Race Philippines) as well as others that completely bastardized the original formats. (You can guess which one/s.)

But why a Produce 101 Philippines? And could it possibly work?

Why Produce 101 Philippines

First of all, the original Produce 101 seasons in Korea were ratings winners. But even more importantly, fulfilled its goal of actually producing hugely popular stars. Whether it’s the final group or even trainees eliminated before the finale, the franchise has propelled many young artists to fame and opportunity. And not just in Korea, but around the world.

The Philippines has definitely been engulfed in the Korean Wave. And numerous sold out concerts and fan meetings, including those of Produce 101 artists, are just some proof of that. Increasing access to the internet has allowed for Filipinos to discover movies, television and music from Korea and elsewhere, especially Japan and Thailand for example.

Boy bands and girl groups are certainly not new in Philippine entertainment. In a music industry dominated by rock bands, balladeers and biriteras, there hasn’t been the kind of mainstream pop artist or group that can transcend the local confines the way Korean artists have been able to. (Sarah Geronimo might be the closest.)

When it comes to boy bands and girl groups specifically, there have been many attempts. (From XLR8 and Pop Girls to the winning groups of To The Top and Pinoy Boyband Superstar.) And with varying degrees of non-success. Most recently, MNL48 (the Philippine sister group of the Japanese performance behemoth AKB48) have charmed local fans while Korea-trained boy group SB19 are quickly wowing audiences.

So why Produce 101 Philippines?

For the Produce 101 experience, there’s really two stages.

The first is watching and being involved in the formation of the eventual group. Filipinos love watching underdog stories and a person’s path to success. So that aspect already should be a mainstream attraction for potential viewers.

On a superficial note, the audience, especially the younger crowd, certainly would have no problem supporting their favorite young guy or girl in the competition. And the journey of rooting for them and watching that favorite trainee grow already endears these young talents to the audience even before they’ve recorded a single song.

The second stage of the experience is then supporting and following the eventual group of 11 (or however many members there can be). The groups that resulted from Korea’s Produce 101 made an immediate impact. Chart topping songs and albums, sold out performances. Accomplishments out of reach for even more established artists.

So a Produce 101 Philippines won’t just be a 13 week TV show. It could possibly be a long-term moneymaker for the parties involved (TV network, production company, record label, sponsors/partners). And the possibility of success is high considering the already quantified success of the original Korean Produce 101 series in the Philippine market.

As seen with the recent traction of such artists as MNL48 and SB19, Filipinos will support local artists who have a heavy infusion and influence from other countries/genres of music.

Obviously, there is still uniquely OPM and Filipino music sensibilities. Even with pop, rock, R&B and hip-hop. But if that right balance between Asian & Western influences (especially K-pop) and tatak-OPM/Filipino style can be found, plus the surely engrained fervor a reality show will fuel, you could have a major success on your hands.

And with the Produce 101 brand, you’ll get automatic attention outside of the Philippines as well. As seen with the various series from Korea, China and now Japan.

Where to Get Trainees?

Where to get 101 contestants though? Surely there are at least 101 talented singers, dancers and rappers in the Philippines. There are definitely more than 101 young people with dreams of fame and fortune.

One of the intriguing aspects of Produce 101 originally was seeing trainees from various entertainment companies competing against each other to form a “project” group. It was a rare collaboration between rival agencies. Seeing artists, both already debuted and still training, from rival talent companies eventually forming a group together, albeit temporarily, was a novel idea.

While the Philippines doesn’t have the dozens of talent companies with waiting trainees like South Korea does, the idea of rival agencies is still very possible here.

That’s why for Produce 101 Philippines, we would have to approach the major networks’ talent arms like ABS-CBN’s Star Magic or GMA Artist Center as well as companies like VIVA Artists Agency, Empire/Mercator Talent, Cornerstone Entertainment and others to send some of their talents. Plus obviously holding open auditions for Independent Trainees, those with no existing management or even entertainment experience, yet already possess considerable talent.

Including talents especially from the two major networks will also drum up interest from the fiercely loyal, #NetworkWar-adhering fans who would want to support their fellow Kapamilyas and Kapusos.

Why TV5

Which brings us to where a Produce 101 Philippines would actually call home.

You might have already noticed right above that there’s a TV5 logo in that #PD101PH title card. And that’s because Produce 101 Philippines should air on TV5 and not, under any circumstance, air or be produced solely by ABS-CBN or GMA Network.

As we just mentioned, some of the 101 trainees would come from Star Magic or GMA Artist Center. And we must have talents from both. So that eliminates either network from being the sole home for a #PD101PH. Why would one network get any kind of advantage or extra say in the final group? We obviously can’t allow that to happen. Especially with the ongoing controversy of vote manipulation in Korea. (The same can be accused of local Filipino reality shows, let’s be real.)

But to truly give Produce 101 Philippines a chance for mainstream success, it can’t just air on an obscure cable channel. Not on ABS-CBN-owned MYX or Produce 101‘s tvN Asia home. It definitely can’t get dumped onto a streaming service like iWant.

Produce 101 Philippines needs a major broadcast TV home. And with the two members of the Philippine entertainment duopoly off the list, it comes down to the #3 network. And that is TV5.

TV5 is independent enough to not favor any of the agencies that would be involved with sending trainees to the show. But it is mainstream enough to reach a wide-enough audience and make it accessible to the Filipino people.

What makes TV5 a more possible landing spot for a hypothetical #PD101PH is that it seems to be gearing up for a return to original entertainment programming in 2020. Perhaps returning to a less-sports heavy programming line-up.

And what better program to immediately draw viewers in to a relaunched TV5? Sadly, not The Amazing Race Philippines 3. But Produce 101 Philippines.

#PD101PH would immediately get people talking, both in the Philippines and abroad. And as the exclusive home for the series, it draws people to the network to hopefully check out the rest of their new and refreshed offerings.

Produce 101 Philippines would still need a little boost to start, of course. So launching it right along with the start of the new PBA season would make sense. And with that, using the PBA as a lead-in to the show. Weekends at 9pm for an hour each day? PBA games at 6pm with a SportsCenter buffer at 8:30 to absorb any game overruns to allow a 9pm on the dot airing for #PD101PH.

A weekday repeat for both episodes could also help maximize the return of investment with some extra commercial time as well as catch viewers on a different day. Whether they are new or just wanting to catch-up.

But all things considered, a #PD101PH would be a sensible investment for TV5 if they are truly interested in resurrecting entertainment offerings on the network.

Make It Accessible

Produce 101 is a global brand. So a very important element to remember is to make a #PD101PH available to the widest audience possible, not just in the Philippines, but around the world.

It’s no secret that international fans have to rely on kind and generous pirates to upload episodes of Produce 101 (or any local television show, to be honest) online. (Even more kind are the people who take the time to subtitle the shows too.)

So why not take that traffic away from the low quality pirated uploads and direct them to the full episode uploads on the official Produce 101 Philippines and/or TV5 channels?

There will surely be fans outside of the Philippines who would be interested in following the show. And being readily accessible encourages more people to give the show a shot. Because having to search the deep web for a good quality video is not the most appealing experience, especially if you’re not particularly interested in the first place.

The best would be to establish a regularly updated and fully stocked official YouTube channel for #PD101PH. Full episodes. Tons of extra content. Unblocked and ready to go. Make it easy for people to watch.

Having official uploads makes it as accessible to as many fans as possible. And that in turn promotes discussion on social media by everyone who has been able to watch, thus raising its profile even more.

Filipino Flavor

One thing that can be done to spice things up and really set #PD101PH apart from the other series would be to come up with Philippine-only twists. Aspects to the competition that aren’t seen on the other versions, while still being faithful to the original format.

An example, allow voting by international fans (viewers outside of the Philippines) who will be able to choose one of the final group members. Like, the top international vote getter not already in the final group gets a spot.

Or in terms of editing, none of the Korean or Japanese style of repeating a scene from different angles over and over again for emphasis.

Visual Identity

I’m definitely not a graphic designer. At all! But here’s some simple concepts for the visual identity of #PD101PH.

Seeing the very clever featuring of Mt. Fuji on the Produce 101 Japan logo, I decided to incorporate the three stars and the sun from the Philippine flag into two versions of the logo.

The first set features the familiar triangle logo, but with the Philippine flag sun in place of the crown:

The second set is the same, except for the three stars of the Philippine flag added in at the three points to add to the patriotism:

The only problem with this is that the stars are not too visible when used as a bug on-screen during episodes or on YouTube clips.

These are alternative logos for specific branding needs:

As seen in the sample video above, on-screen graphics will maintain a uniform look using the same typeface from the main logo. (With different weights for different elements.) Such as the hashtag next to the network logo bug:

Or for any episode information (upper left hand corner) or lower-third graphics, as well as the “LIVE” tag under the network bug:

Marketing and Promotion

Staging a big show like Produce 101 Philippines (let alone buying the rights to it first!) definitely requires a lot of money.

First off, if possible, to handle both some of the costs and production resources,Produce 101 Philippines can be a co-production between Mnet and TV5 (and all Cignal/MediaQuest/PLDT properties).

#PD101PH would have to be an all-in type of production with the huge potential and big reward it could have.

But also, it would be important to partner up with big brands and especially local companies. And this would be both for marketing purposes leading up to and during airing of the show as well as possible endorsement deals with the final group. The pitch for companies would be that sponsoring and partnering with the show would immediately raise the profile of their brand to an international audience.

#PD101PH could partner with one of the major local clothing brands like Bench or Penshoppe. Or perhaps even just SM or Robinsons malls. The stores could produce and sell #PD101PH branded clothing. (“Own your very own #PD101PH uniform!”) As well as sell other knick-knacks, accessories, etc. A separate deal could also be made specifically for footwear. Nike, Adidas, Converse maybe?

Other opportunities can be found with local fast food chains. (“Buy a Chickenjoy meal, get an extra vote for your favorite trainee!”) Soda companies, energy drinks. Rexona! Samsung, Oppo, Huawei.

Understood in any sponsorship or partnership deal, is that it would be mutually beneficial. For all the international exposure for the respective brands, those brands would also provide maximum exposure for the show. Which makes possible partnerships with a Bench/Penshoppe/SM/Robinsons or a Jollibee even more important considering the hundreds of locations across the country and the heavy foot traffic each store usually gets every day.


One of the most talked about details of a Produce 101 Philippines will of course be the choice of host and mentors.

I think the pretty obvious choice for host aka “National Producer Representative” would be Sandara Park. One of the most famous stars in the Philippines before becoming one of the most famous K-pop artists in the world, it’s only fitting for her to be Produce 101 Philippines‘s captain and the face of the series.

For the mentors who will first evaluate and then help the trainees on their journey, it would be important to find not just the biggest name stars in the industry today. But to find people who know a thing or two about K-pop and working in an international setting. As well as finding people with a modern and contemporary style that can appeal to what would be the target audience for #PD101PH.

These are obviously just off the top of my head, but…

For vocal mentors, we have Rachelle Ann Go and Beverley Caimen. Both have an international pedigree that gives the show a bit of heft.

Rachelle Ann Go has made a name for herself on Broadway and London’s West End. That experience and her vocal chops would be an asset to the show and a big help to the trainees, considering her own training in being part of major stage performances.

Beverly Caimen, meanwhile, got her start in the Philippines. But her career blossomed in Japan and is now a J-pop star signed to the biggest record label in the country. She would bring the same amazing vocals as Rachelle Ann Go, but also bring a different experience having worked in the Japanese music industry. One that is similar to K-pop in many ways as well. (Many K-pop artists of course are active, if not more so, in Japan.)

For dance mentors, Filipino-American dancer and choreographer Shaun Evaristo would be a good name to get. He’s choreographed some iconic K-pop performances and worked with some huge K-pop and American artists. So he would be perfect as someone to guide a future boy or girl group.

To bring more K-pop experience and skill, Dasuri Choi would also be a good name. The former Eat Bulaga You’re My Foreignay contestant is a full-blooded Korean who is pusong Pinoy. She’s worked as a choreographer and dance instructor in the Philippines for years and that Korean-Philippine connection just makes sense.

For a rap mentor, who else but Gloc-9. His talent and years of experience would be invaluable to young talents. He’s already been a mentor on GMA Network’s Protege. But Produce 101 Philippines would be a little more suited to the knowledge he could impart to the trainees.

I’ve put young singer-songwriter Mikee Misalucha as a “composition mentor.” Having the trainees writing and composing their own music would be great and really set them apart from other groups. Mikee Misalucha is one name that came to mind. She has a great contemporary sound that the young trainess could relate to. And there’s a lot of other young songwriters as well that are giving OPM a great, contemporary sound.

Finally, to include Filipino-American K-pop star Kriesha Chu, we can have her be an “image mentor,” using her experience as an actual K-pop artist to advise the young talents. At the same time, she can serve as the backstage or “journey” host as well.

Whoever would be chosen, again, it is important that the people guiding the trainees are artists and people who are well-versed in K-pop or have international experience. We’re looking for a Filipino group that can make it big worldwide, after all.

The Goal

The short-term goal for Produce 101 Philippines, create a brand new television and entertainment phenomenon. The franchise already has a built in audience, for better or worse. But Filipino audiences enjoy a good reality game show. And together, #PD101PH has a good opportunity to be a big mainstream hit.

The ultimate goal for Produce 101 Philippines: Find a music group that showcases Original Pilipino Music and world class Filipino talent to the world. Infused with some K-pop sensibilities, put together a group that transcends the 7,000+ islands of the Philippines. And announce to the world that Filipinos also have the total package that can fill stadiums and sell albums.


I’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you like? What do you hate? How crazy do you think the idea is? How would you adapt Produce 101 for the Philippines with the country’s unique entertainment set-up?

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