Friday, December 9, 2011


By Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 9, 2011

If Manny Pacquiao did not punch his way out of poverty and become today’s greatest fighter would any advertiser even know his name?

Would our congressmen even travel thousand of miles away just to see him fight?

Would Leila Lopes have a tv commercial if she weren’t Miss Universe?

The Angolan beauty that stole the thunder from our Shamcey Supsup was in a recently released Doritos tv commercial.

Would football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney get juicy contracts for Nike’s epic “Write The Future” tv campaign if they weren’t hot and couldn’t fill huge stadiums to capacity crowd?

The tv spot was chosen as the world’s best tv commercial at Cannes last year winning the Film Grand Prix Lion. It is also one of the most viewed viral videos because it featured three of the most idolized football players in the world.

For sure David Beckham would have gotten offers to star in a Pinoy tv commercial had he stayed longer in Manila and advertisers can afford him.

There is a difference between celebrity endorsements and talents that started in advertising before they became celebrities.

Let’s talk about the latter.

Whether in the olden days or in this current generation of exploding new media, advertising still is, the best celebrity maker and builder of dreams.

Starring in an advertising campaign is a stepping-stone to dizzying popularity. It is someone else’s door to fame and glory.

Being seen in print or tv spot makes the lucky and deserving sparkle up on the marquee. Being in advertising is people’s ticket to stardom.

No wonder talent agencies knock on ad agencies’ doors to sell their wards and celebrity wanabes knock on talent agencies doors twice as hard.

Long before celebrities became one, for sure, they were already spotted by some star-struck talent scout in some place.

Either they were handed out a business card asking them for a “go-see” (term used for initial photo or video audition) or were frisked pronto for an urgent production shoot.

Talent agents normally scour malls, school campuses, discos, university sports tournament venues and other high traffic areas to hunt for specific model requirements by ad agencies.

Some great finds might appear just out of nowhere - spotted in a movie theatre queue, walked in a restaurant. They could be waiting to board a plane in an airport or simply bumped into by someone on the way to the restroom.

The world is filled with many great faces. If you only know how to look, they can be found in bus stations, a friend’s wedding, unexpected places. They could be right next-door residing where you are or a distant cousin you haven’t seen for a long time.

The road to celebrity stardom is not easy. Some pre-celebrity status talents appeared in print, outdoor or tv advertising in varying degrees of exposure. They were nameless, struggling ‘ugly ducklings’ before Lady Luck smiled at them, and said: “Go forth and shine.”

Brooke Shields began as an ad model barely at the age of 11 months for Ivory Soap. That was the beginning of her steady climb to fame being as an Eileen Ford model. She rose to the top as a Hollywood actress.

John Travolta was playing basketball and singing under the shower for a Safeguard tv commercial before he shot into our consciousness. He burst into “Saturday Night Fever” fame and he became every girl’s poster boy in the late 70’s.

Keannu Reeves was a refreshing face on many Kellogs tv commercials prior to gaining superstar status for his films “Point Break” “My Private Idaho” and “The Matrix” series.

Jodie Foster starred in Crest Toothpaste tv commercial before she became popular and an Oscar-award-winning actress.

Whitney Houston was in Canada Dry Ginger Ale tv spot singing with two other damsels before she became a huge singing sensation.

Most of today’s local movie stars started out in commercials before they became popular.

Nino Muhlach, for example, was a local Milkmaid tv ad talent before he became a child star.

Gabby Concepcion belonged to a long list of Close-Up talents that were offered lucrative movie contracts after appearing in the brand’s glossy tv commercials.

Among them were William Martinez, Lloyd Samartino, Alfie Anido and Miguel Rodriguez (the last two now deceased).

Later batch of Close-Up commercials featured newcomer Sam Milby who instantly became a hit and went on to appear in Centrum, Bench, Lipton Milk Tea and Jollibee commercials.

Rachel Lobangco played a smashing lead role in San Miguel Beer Pale Pilsen’s tv commercial “Shh Boom”. That paved the way for her movie career, which saw her starring in “Kokak”, a movie whose title stuck wherever she went.

Lea Salonga appeared in a Swift Hotdog tv ad while a small kid. She got the part from a tedious selection process because she was smart, pretty, projected well on screen and, most of all, could sing.

Dingdong Dantes was a chubby, little boy who started appearing in a tv ad at age 2. Dantes bloomed as a child model and was seen on several commercials.

Prior to becoming popular with teeny boppers, he was part of an all-male dance group called Abztract Dancers and his group became regulars on “Eat Bulaga” and “That’s Entertainment”.

In a poignant PLDT tv commercial a couple of years back, a young man was talking to his father about shifting to another course in college. Many people remembered that scene and the guy who played the role would eventually be seen in many more print advertising campaigns, even stardom. He was Christian Vasquez, former PAL steward.

Before he became a Star Magic talent, Juddha Paolo was hot in Coke’s “Hottah, Hottah Summer” tv commercial. He soon became popular, including being a video jock.

Body Shot winners Ricky Salumbides and Brent Javier did walk on and cameo roles in a Smart Telecom tv commercial. The former became a global Pinoy model sensation in Paris, New York, Milan, Rome, London, and around Asia. The latter is still a much sought after male ramp model.

Shaina Magdayao started out in advertising, modelling for children's clothing and appeared in television commercials for Magnolia Chocolait, Lemon Squares Products and Goldilocks. She was also one of Bench’s youngest models before she ventured into t shows and movies.

The Younghusbands, Phil and James, had sporadic ad appearances before their popularity rose to new heights after the Asian Football Circuit. They were on a roll after that.

Like Nikki Gil, Cogie Domingo, Iya Villania, Toni Gonzaga, Ryan Agoncillo, Drew Arellano, there are countless others who’ve achieved celebrity status by being chosen by advertisers to appear in tv commercials.

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to be a celebrity? You can start by being discovered by talent agents and ad agencies. Find them if they can’t find you. Hang out where they usually hang out.

Remember though that a pretty or handsome face alone is not a guarantee. In a world that is loaded with good-looking people, talent is hard currency.

Some of today’s Hollywood celebrities took up drama and learned to act. They didn't just make it on great looks. They worked hard to get to where they are today.

Spread yourself far and wide. Use social media to get talent agents to know and find you. Nowadays, a lot of people are getting discovered online. Log in on where many talent scouts, ad agencies and entertainment industry people go to look for talents.

Are talent scouts constantly hounding you wherever you go? Be cautious but don’t shoo them away. They could be the bearer of good news you’ve been waiting for.