Thursday, October 17, 2013


By Roger Pe

With over 200 offices in 82 countries and 9,000 communication experts, Publicis Worldwide is the largest global network within Publicis Groupe (recently merged with Omnicom to become the world’s biggest advertising conglomerate).

Its global philosophy is “Lead the Change” and in Manila, its tough Chair and CEO practices what it preaches. Even in industry events that have national significance.

Matec Villanueva is also chair of Ad Summit Pilipinas, (together with Alex Syfu, Managing Partner at DM9 Jayme-Syfu advertising agency), the much-awaited event that when launched on May 2014, will dawn a new change in Philippine advertising.

In the much-publicized Adboard (Advertising Board of the Philippines) internal conflict, Villanueva fought tooth and nail for 4A’s (Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines) equity, a role she’s beholden to protect: Champion members’ interests by being their voice, inspiration and the moving force in the marketing communications industry.

She stresses the importance of PANA (Philippine Association of National Advertisers), KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Advertisers sa Pilipinas), MSAP (Media Supplier Association of the Philippines) and ASAP (Advertising Suplliers Association of the Philippines) into the fold and demonstrated how without them could lead to a vacuum in the industry.

Taking the bull by the horns, Villanueva puts an end to an impasse that has rocked an organization fraught with furloughs. After seven years, it’s good to have her back as 4A’s chair - for advertising’s most important event also goes back to where it rightfully belongs, the 4A’s.

First ever Ad Summit Pilipinas

The blue-ribbon event will see a different gathering of marketers and advertising practitioners in the country. For one, the word “congress” won’t be there, as if it was deliberately exorcised.

According to Villanueva, the Ad Summit is a change for the better, moving with the times, a convergence of the country’s best and brightest minds.

“We need to grow, we refuse to be outdated, we need to look forward,” Villanueva says.

Villanueva says Ad Summit will be refreshingly precedent making. She gives Inquirer’s Business Friday exclusive interview as she and her team roll their sleeves to mount the country’s first Ad Summit in seven months time.

BF: What is Ad Summit Pilipinas?

MV: It’s about caring for the industry we love. It is about looking forward and looking deeper into its needs. We also need to fill the void and provide continued learnings for the next generation of Filipino ad makers, which is our focus.

BF: Talking about focus, what’s the theme of Ad Summit?

MV: In a month’s time, we will know. We are still in the process of choosing the best and most relevant.

11 ad agencies are participating in the pitch and helping crack it. The winning agency will execute the event campaign, from brand identity down to its other creative merchandising permutations on various media channels.

The brief that we gave them was summarized into: “Events that are currently happening in the country and how they affect the ad industry.”

It was a beautiful briefing document that hopefully will be translated into a meaningful battlecry.

BF: Speaking about Adboard, why should 4A’s be chair?

MV: We don’t want to lose our grip on the very foundation that the 4A’s was created. Even with the explosion of digital and advent of new media,” at the end of the day, it is still advertising.

BF: Why should anyone not miss Ad Summit?

MV: It’s special, and we’d want it to be very visible and wonderfully felt. We are more concerned about quality than quantity of speakers in the program.
Attendees will see an Ad Summit that is professionally managed and an event run efficiently with clockwork precision.

BF: Give us a preview of what to expect in the Ad Summit.

MV: Gone will be the days of “kanya-kanya”. We are definitely bringing “Rock Star” speakers, global luminaries who are iconic, brilliant as their work that transcends national boundaries. We won’t have speakers who can’t even present.

We’d like to make Ad Summit an extension of 4A’s Aral – learning from the best and leading the change. Quality of speakers is one of the improvements we are putting in. We are rolling the red carpet for the finest.

We are focusing on intelligent programming and effective management of events to give the audience better grasp, and participation throughout the convention duration.

We are bent not too overload programs so attendees can manage their time well and register 100% attendance every session. We don’t want to see morning sessions not filled up because people stayed late the night before.

Then, there is also the “Kidlat Awards”. As the “Araw” fades into the sunset, the Creative Guild of the Philippines’ award-giving body will be woven into Ad Summit.

We intend to institutionalize “Kidlat” as the country’s most prestigious creative advertising competition.

The vision is just to make one advertising creative award giving body and make “Kidlat” as tough as Singapore’s CCA (Creative Circle Awards), Thailand’s BAD (Bangkok Art Directors Awards), Malaysian’s “Kancil Awards” and Australia’s AWARD (Australian Writers and Art Directors) Award. The competition’s format follows the world’s major award shows’ template.

BF: Previously, events like this earned a lot of money.

MV: That is not our main concern. While it is great to earn money, our main focus is to be of service to the needs of the industry first and foremost as I’ve mentioned.

BF: Has the Publicis Groupe-Omnicom merger beginning to have ripple effects in the Philippines?

MV: It is not easy and you cannot expect that with established brands like Leo Burnett, Saatchi, BBDO, TBWA and DDB. Clout maybe.

BF: What can you say to what you have become – from the girl who stumbled into advertising through the back door to chairman of one of the industry’s most financially vibrant ad agencies?

MV: Everything is not planned.
I believe that success is 30% skills and 70% luck. I admit I am not gifted but if you fall in love in what you do, things will be bestowed on you. I am married to my job and I consider myself lucky in my generation for having sought mentorship under these industry greats: Minyong Ordonez, Tony Mercado, Nonoy Gallardo, Emily Abrera, Mon and Abby Jimenez.

When I fell in love with advertising, I totally immersed myself into it and said: this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

BF: Who is Matec Villanueva after office?

MV: I am a lover of life, a health buff, married to my boys and I passionately teach advertising at Ateneo de Manila University. I have a great sense of history, reality, the past and the now. I am naturally resourceful and eager.

BF: Let’s play a word game based on your agency’s context. Choose only one, Creativity or Effectivity?

MV: Creativity. We’re already an effective agency.

BF: Awards or Billings?

MV: Awards. We have the billings and we’d like to shift focus on this one.

BF: Fame or Legacy?

MV: Fame.

Can Ad Summit Pilipinas bring back the hunger? Will it fire up today’s advertising and marketing people caught by the changes in the industry? Will we see a creative boom? Will local ad campaigns be more convincing and effective as hell? Villanueva thinks so. So, see you at the Summit!