Catriona, Alaiza and Samantha | Defining a Pageant Campaign

If there are three Filipina pageant girls that have redefined what a pageant campaign should be, those would be Catriona Gray, Alaiza Malinao and Samantha Bernardo.

These are what these three ladies brought into their pageant campaigns that revolutionized how the pageant game is played…


Catriona Gray’s Miss Universe pageant campaign is the stuff that legends are made of. She redefined how pageant girls build their pageant battle-plans and provided a blueprint for all succeeding beauty queen hopefuls on how to mount a successful pageant campaign.

There are 3 key takeaways from her pageant campaign that every pageant girl can learn from:

  1. Video content – this is where a pageant girl can cover a huge deal of information within a context of 2-5 minutes worth of video. Visual communication paired with great audio is one of the best tools to have your message stick to your targeted audience and this is what Catriona’s team did. Jolo Luarca’s short videos reinforced the image building that Catriona did during her campaign.
  2. Advocacy and Social Responsibility – Catriona elevated the pageant industry as a whole when she made her advocacy the center of her campaign. It became the raison d’etre of her entire pageant experience and stuck true to it from the start of her Binibining Pilipinas journey all through her post Miss Universe career. She placed children and education, through her Young Focus work, as her driving force in her pageant career.
  3. Every Move is Purposeful – this is the strategist/ tactician in all of us. But for Catriona, it is more than a strategy, everything she does has a purpose behind it. Her Binibining Pilipinas wardrobe reflected the Philippines in every step of the way, which she later brought to her Miss Universe campaign. The Sinag gown, the Lava gown, the Maranao princess costume, the earcuffs, the focus on Philippine textiles, etc… it all reflected her purpose of having Filipino designs and talent in display to an international audience. Her speaking about her work with Young Focus served the purpose of her advocacy. Her use of a Thai costume inspired arrival outfit served a purpose as well. Nothing is left to chance.

Alaiza Malinao is the Miss Universe Philippines we didn’t know we all deserved but didn’t have. Hers is a pageant campaign that had all the ingredients of of what an international pageant campaign looks like on a local pageant.

If there are key learnings from her campaign that pageant girls should emulate from Alaiza, these are the 3 most important takeaways:

  1. Authenticity – Alaiza has never been ashamed of her humble beginnings. Poverty, growing up in a rural area, hard-work, those are words that we are all familiar with but Alaiza lived through it. And every choice she made from her pageant journey is being true to herself. Her choice of wearing an authentic  Bagobo Tagabawa outfit reflected her choice to be as authentic as possible in a competition where the de facto choice are the elaborate festival costumes one cannot wear daily. Her choice of a simple white terno for the evening gown competition spoke of her pride as a Filipina. One that doesn’t need any adornment to look her best. Her speaking in the vernacular during the Miss Universe Philippines finals allowed young provinciana girls see a reflection of themselves in Alaiza. A powerful image of hope and possibility.
  2. Tone of Voice – Alaiza’s way of communicating with fans is one that is conversational that swings from the formal to the colloquial when the occasion needs for it. But it is always engaging. Being approachable and relatable is a huge power to wield specially in pageants. This is why Alaiza remains to be the kind of pageant girl that you wish is given the chance to compete internationally.
  3. Importance of Social Media – You get a sense of who she is and what she is all about in her social media feed. Her presence and accessibility on social media makes her one of the most beloved Philippine pageant girls of 2020 without a huge number of trolls or anti-fans. And that is saying something, specially on social media.

Samantha Bernardo’s knock your socks off sequence of daily pasavogues is one for the pageant books. But what makes her pageant campaign all the more impressive is that she and her team had 20 days to build it up for Miss Grand International 2020.

If you have a month-long pageant but only have 7-14 days of actual pageant activities, it makes sense that Samantha sought to have an ‘in your face day-to-day reveal‘. It doesn’t give your audience a break and your competitors a chance to breathe. So if there are any major lessons to learn from her Miss Grand International campaign, these are 3 of the most important ones:

  1. Tailor-fit Your Campaign – study what your pageant is looking for in a winner and find aspects of your personality that jives along with it. Amplify those qualities in your campaign whilst remaining true to who you are. Easier said than done but achievable. Do this in every aspect of your pageant prep; wardrobe, interview prep, pasarela, etc… Samantha seemed to have been born for the MGI pageant but it doesn’t mean that she did not prepare for it. She knew what the pageant is looking for in a winner and she made sure that her arsenal are on the same lines as those of the pageant’s needs.
  2. Showmanship and Performance – this is a no brainer, Samantha is a performer by nature and this is why she always sticks out in a long line of pageant girls. Her swimsuit and evening gown presentations alone in the prelims showcased how refined her performance is. She studied and executed her choreography impeccably. No wobbly twirls or turns, no extra unnecessary movements were made, everything was planned and done perfectly.
  3. Not Wasting Any Opportunity – with a crown that took three long years, Samantha surely knows not to waste an opportunity when one lands on her lap. And when one came, she is giving it her all. No holding back punches, no reserving energies waiting for ‘crucial moments’. Every moment is crucial to showcase your abilities and your willingness to assume the title.

Every pageant hopeful can learn a thing or two from these three women. Each had their own way in paving what their pageant journey would look like. Not everyone was blessed with a crown, but each of them made a mark that is unlikely to be forgotten.

Catriona, Alaiza and Samantha, three women with individual and distinct personalities but all whom defined what a pageant campaign is ought to be like…

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