Wednesday, August 19, 2009


By Roger Pe

Can someone levitate over the Grand Canyon and make the Statue of Liberty disappear?

Can you volunteer for a death-defying act infront of a crowd?

Do you even believe in magic and illusion?

Attend this year’s Philippine Ad Congress and confront your most frequently asked ‘macabre’ questions: What’s magic got to do with today’s marketing problems? Will the good old glory days of advertising remain elusive and stay just like that, an illusion?

Before we take you to a spellbinding David Copperfield-like trek, let’s pause for a commercial break by defining the word Money. Money after all caused seemingly invincible first world economies to tumble like dominoes, shocking us all, wreaking havoc to ours, more so to advertising – always the first casualty when recession comes knocking at the door.

“Money is what I work for all my life.”

“Without money, how can you ever build a house, feed and send your children to school?”

“Money allows me to own an off-the-rack blazer, flaunt it in coffee shops even in armpit-burning weather.”

“Money can buy you everything but definitely not class and happiness.”

“Money is the root of all evil. I don’t need it.”

To each his own and definitions of the term comes aplenty depending on who you ask.

Are you a pessimist, optimist, apathetic, callous, an incorrigible cynic? That’s what Ad Congress organizers seem to be asking: “Ano Sa Tingin Mo? (How Do You See It From Your Own Perspective?) so goes this year’s theme. Is the glass half-empty or half-full? When life kicks your butt, do you just sit there or kick back with a much stronger, louder kick? Are you too negative or one who’ll always expect a rainbow every time it rains?

Let There Be Magic

Last August 5, Ad Congress organizers officially launched a series of tv commercial teasers to drum up excitement for the grand event. As in previous congresses where most ad agencies put their damndest forward to win the event’s theme advertising campaign, this one was not less dramatic.

Ad, Media and Marketing industry hotshots spilled over Ayala Museum to watch and hear Ayala business mogul Fernando Zobel de Ayala speak, along with this year’s Chair Margot Torres and PANA president Charmaine Canillas. When all were seated and quiet, everyone was asked:

“Would you like to know what secrets lie behind magic tricks?” Attendees were further titillated: “you’ll bear witness to magic and shall be privileged to see its mysteries through four different eyes” but emphatically forewarned: “Not all magic turns out to be magical. You just might be looking through the eyes of a fiend.”

Four outstanding directors, Henry Frejas, Sid Maderazo, Carlo Directo and AF Benaza, were tasked to do an Ad Congress first: Interpret a mysterious event whose story zeroes in on a magic show from the perspective of four different characters. Interesting quartet collaboration, let’s see.

First, the Trailer, then on to the Main Course: “The Magician”, “The Stagehand”, “The Assistant” and “The Date.” Did the four deliver?

It is amazing to see new generation of Pinoy tv ad makers reinforce our reputation as world-class when it comes to filmmaking. Indeed, Hollywood has much to discover and long-time Asian stalwarts should cringe with envy for our deep talent bench.

“Stagehand”, “Assistant” “Magician,” “The Date” all mini movie trailers, are respectable, superbly edited, beautifully photographed, cinematic and appropriately scored with spine-tingling soundtrack greatly enhancing the idea: Perspective. Maderazo should be the future of Philippine tv commercials if he continues to evolve. Directo is a wonderful revelation. Frejas is as always, good old-reliable and Benaza, a rising star.

Always the bridesmaid, the unsung heroes of four masterpieces, the cinematographers, should also share in the spotlight: Rody Lacap, Leslie Garchitorena, Odie Flores and Dennis Martinez. Well-done.

All four directors used the same set, props and cast of talents, each one telling his story in his own inimitable style. All four commercials are showing alternately on your favorite channel. Don’t blink.

Who kept you on the edge of your seat? Who created the most engaging storytelling style? If you were the director of one of the four versions, how would you interpret it and from whose point of view?

In the current marketing scenario, who should play the roles of the Fiend, Assistant, Stagehand, Date and Magician? Who’s playing tricks, seeing the problems with myopic eyes? Are we colorblind, cross-eyed, far or nearsighted? When dust has settled who is going to give us the right perspective?

Most of all, who’ll bring the child-like wonder back to us every time we see magic? Find out the chilling tale when the 21st Philippine Advertising Congress opens in Baguio City on November 18, 2009.


Sunday, August 9, 2009



Floodwaters, electricity bills and skyscrapers are not the only ones rising in Manila - mobile phones and Internet users, too.

According to Nielsen Media Research, there were 63 million mobile phone and 23 million Internet users in the country in 2008. The number is expected to increase by more than 20% at the end of this year. Expectedly, marketers and ad agencies will be promptly turning to digital media to cash in on the boom.

A Manila geek, for instance, would normally have three to four mobile phones, flashing the latest models from Nokia, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson or the best from Apple. That’s not counting his tote laptops from same Apple, Dell or other brands. Wherever you may find him and his tribe – in Starbucks and other fashionable cafes, you can be assured that they are going to be targeted by Philippine digital media.

And his provincial cousins? Not far behind. Internet cafes have been buzzing and humming round the clock, round the block even in remotest Philippine towns for many years. The growth of mobile phone and Internet users in provincial urban centers are just as remarkable.

As Internet rats crawl the web day and night, it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) president Charmaine Canillas acknowledges the captive market for digital media.

“Those surfing the Internet are the ones who are most receptive to new products and services,” she says. Noting that young urban professionals usually spend time in coffee shops doing their work, checking on many sites to find the latest gadgets, the advertising industry is moving to “heavily rely” on digital media, she says.

Canillas also adds that a lot of marketers are now also taking advantage of social marketing sites as users continue to increase. She will discuss the use of digital media in the new advertising landscape and lecture on how to create an effective campaign at the 3rd Philippine Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit on August 25 and 26 at the Philippine SMX Convention Center.



Thursday, August 6, 2009


By Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:21:00 08/07/2009

Filed Under: Advertising, Media
The movie “The Postman Always Rings Twice” was remade not twice, but four times. Which brings us to ask: Which one of the four do you like better, the one that starred Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange or the 1946 version?

For those who’ve seen all four, the inevitable comparison will happen, and people will always notice the enhancements made after the original story.

Often, people will choose the original. The impact it created after the initial splash would resonate for a long time.

What is a remake? Wikipedia defines it as a term generally referred to as a material, which uses earlier material as the main source of the subject.

It is different from re-interpretation, as how most Batman and Darna movies are made. Which takes us to the next question: Is a remake a homage or tribute to the original? Or are producers just running out of material and want to capitalize on the success of others?

Cashing in

It is interesting to see what Google has to say about famous remakes: “Artistically and economically, Hollywood hasn’t learned that remaking classics for TV or theatrical release is dumb and never works. Not at the box office. Nor does it enhance the reputation of actors and directors in comparison with the legendary cast of the originals ... Too many remakes are done by half-baked hustlers trying to cash in on monumental successes of the past.”

For some sentimental, and maybe even more substantial reasons, people always tend to like the original. Remakes always suffer the same fate, being compared to their predecessors. Most languish in whimperville, others hit the ground with a loud thud, but some miraculously make it.

But what about TV commercials?

As in movies, comparison will always be there: Will the remake measure up?

Virtual rehash

On BusinessWeek, David Kiley, wrote: “I like it when an advertiser tries an update of an old idea provided the idea and execution is good. Consider what BMW has done for Mini. I even like the creepy-looking ‘Burger King’ which has turned up in BK ads this year. But Coke’s remake of its classic 1971 ad ‘Hilltop,’ a.k.a. ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,’ redone as ‘Chilltop’ for Coke Zero, left me cold.”

In the commercial, the guy leading the song raps into the original song from 1971, and instead of a hilltop, it all takes place on a Philadelphia rooftop.

“The thing looks like some exercise in hipness as conceived by older middle-aged ad and Coke execs. I got a whiff of the ads Buick tried to pull off a few years ago behind the tagline, ‘It’s All Good.’ The people in it look like they are putting on a glee club concert instead of the edgy ad it should be,” Riley says.

Here, a legendary TV ad that was done in the 1970s that made cash registers ring and everybody shout “Ito ang beer” (This is the beer) has been reincarnated with a vengeance.

Was it meant to squeeze every inch of mileage from world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao?

The remake of “Isang Platitong Mani” started airing early July. It was a virtual rehash of a 1970s campaign that was voted Ad of the Year during the silver anniversary of the 4As, among others.

The ad showed celebrity heavyweights (boxing great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, pop icon Rico Puno, billiards champ Amang Parica and jockey legend Jesus Domingo) finding common ground in “Isang Platitong Mani” (a saucerful of roasted peanuts) and San Miguel Beer.

Fast forward to 2009, and the remade ad features world billiards champ Efren “Bata” Reyes, movie hunk Derek Ramsey, comedian Michael V and Manny Pacquiao acting out the same roles, laughing, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company.

You expect that a big surprise at the end will detonate and jolt you out of your seat as Pacquiao points to the menu and orders “roasted legumes” or something. Cut to next scene: “Isang platitong mani” is served.


We asked some marketing industry folks what they thought about the new San Miguel Beer Pale Pilsen TV ad. Here’s what they say:

“It may be possible that only a few of us can remember the old version. To the current target market, it may be novelty. For those who do remember it from a consumer standpoint, it is cute to revive these things, especially if execution justifies it. The spot and its punchline are still relevant and Pacquiao does bring some charm to the masses. From a professional standpoint, well, I hope McCann will not go on with a string of revivals. It can border on being sad as far as their capability is concerned.”—Saatchi & Saatchi top accounts management person

“I think it is okay. It is amusing.”—copywriter

“Recycled. So 80s.”—creative director

“Seems like no creative people were involved. What do you expect from a rehashed ad?”—copywriter

“I don’t know how it will resonate with today’s consumers. For me, there’s nothing new. But what could have been great was a spot using the magic of technology that combined an old TVC with the new to connect two generations of San Miguel Beer loyalists. Remember the magical duet of Nat King Cole and Natalie both singing ‘Unforgettable?’”—top marketing director

Homage, recycled or interesting? You decide.

Scene & noted
Political ads are a boring lot and much too predictable. But this one isn’t. We think it is creative, simple and insightful. We are referring to a TV ad showing some building blocks being formed to dramatize what people unwittingly pay as excess tax or something. Congratulations to the creators of the campaign.