Thursday, August 25, 2011


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 20, 2011

With all humility, there is more to Cultural Center of the Philippines’ than Mideo Cruz’ shock art that unfairly overshadowed the larger part of the whole.

The real shocker is, it’s been long neglected.

CCP - home of Philippine arts and culture. Whether you’re a fan of Imelda or not, it is ours, and here to stay.

Not everyone knows the CCP produces about 800 shows a year and that the Filipino art institution has more than two million people listening to its award-winning radio program: “Sugpuin ang Korupsyon”, elevated to the Hall of Fame by the Catholic Mass Media Awards.

Most recently, it celebrated Jose Rizal’s 150th birthday featuring prominent artists and performing groups led by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and Ballet Philippines. A follow-up, “Noli Me Tangere: The Musical” is ongoing at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino to critical acclaim.

More than 40 years of feeding our hunger for the arts, the CCP now looks like a visibly haggard lady obviously spent.
Put side by side with Singapore’s Esplanade and Hongkong’s Museum of Art, it looks decrepit and needs a major overhaul to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with these two, which never existed when CCP was born.

We built new cities, some of the world’s biggest malls, fattened the military budget, yet we left the country’s haven for the arts fend for itself in the last many years.

Before Cruz’ art exploded on our faces, CCP was already gasping for its breath, digging deeper into its own pocket much too often and its resident artists crying for help.

From afar, the once envy of Asia, still mesmerizes. The architectural wonder whom, former US Ambassador to the Philippines Henry Byroade mentioned as ”it makes our Kennedy Center look cheap” still makes people stop.

On closer scrutiny however, the Venus-like beauty, is aging faster, battered by time and dwindling support.
The 43-year old edifice is in dire need of money for its upkeep, against the threats of fiscal neglect and those who wish to see her untimely demise.

The ceiling of the orchestra section is inching closer to becoming like that of a rundown movie theatre.
The hydraulic unit at the back of Main Theatre, an integral part for seamless, multi-vantage point staging, is about to be shut down. Seriously damaged during the early 90s earthquake, it has not been repaired since then.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsal studio does not befit its name inspite of the many accolades it has brought home. It is just as pathetic and looks like a provincial university auditorium.

Maestro, Frenchman Olivier Ochanine, told media people who were being given a tour on the premises: “careful not to jump up and down, you’ll feel the rickety vibration of the floor.”

Ballet Philippines is another sordid sight. The Philippines’ biggest ballet school is housed in a cramped, uninspiring boring piece of space. A ballerina could easily hurt herself on a miscue while doing pirouettes.

Yet, the ensemble under former Miss Universe Margie Moran-Floirendo is ever passionate nurturing Filipino ballet talents to world-class status even with diminishing resources.

Further down the once elegant foyer nests Ramon Obusan’s folkloric dance company. The group now handled by National Artist’s sister Iris Obusan-Isla has enthralled the world many times over. Like the rest of the resident companies at CCP, it is literally begging for government’s help.

At Tanghalang Pilipino, actor John Arcilla, one of local thespians of Actors Company, couldn’t have said it any better:
“Rizal’s novels and teachings are even more relevant today. Walang nagbago. Mga personalidad lang ang nagbago.”
Arcilla laments the theatre’s outdated equipment and artists’ meager wages: “Kung pababayaan natin ang mga Filipino artists, sino pa ang magpa-paalaala ng ating kultura sa mga kabataan kundi tayong mga alagad ng sining?” Truth well said.

At the height of a controversial art exhibit a couple of weeks ago, CCP Chairman Emily Abrera reiterated that the CCP would continue to be a refuge for artistic freedom and uphold it as enshrined in the Constitution. Her ‘intransigence’ enraged the bishops.

Artistic freedom, whether it was compromised or not, has brought forth original Filipino content in dance, theatre, music, literature, visual arts and film to Filipinos for four decades.

CCP Artistic Director Chris Millado told media that CCP provides local and global artistic experiences to Filipinos.
“About 400,000 attend shows at the main venues, and more than 100,000 compose audiences and artists in the regions,” he said.

Last Tuesday, CCP opened the first international jazzfest with 150 international artists on the bill. “The festival is part of our program to open up CCP on a global scale,” said CCP president Raul Sunico.

Around 20,000 also view CCP’s tv programs (“The Red Carpet” among them) on arts and culture. Through the years, CCP has nurtured and developed artists who have become world-class and masters in their field.

Millado says CCP even responds to national calamities and emergency situations through art and culture via Art Therapy programs for children and families affected by natural disasters and from conflict-ridden areas.


CCP’S flagship for artistic excellence is the Resident Company Program composed of:
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, UST Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theatre, Philippine Madrigal Singers, Tanghalang Pilipino, Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group and the National Music Competition for Young Artists.

CCP produces and hosts festivals, among them, the Pasinaya CCP Open House Festival, considered as the largest multi-arts festival in the country, attracting more than 50,000 audiences and 2,000 performers in a single day offered free to the public.

CCP’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival is now considered as the biggest and most influential film festival. It is changing the landscape of cinematic art in the Philippines.

The 13 Artists Awards and Exhibition has become the career launching pad of painters, sculptors, installation artists whose works are now recognized in Asia and the world.

In contrast, not many people know that a large chunk of money gobble up CCP’s budget on physical maintenance alone.
Upgrading instruments, equipment, facilities and salaries are entirely different matter - they’re mind-boggling.

”CCP is our proud link to our earliest ancestors, living proof of our creative genius, bridge of understanding between nationalities. May it forever stand as a shrine for that immortal part of us,” CCP Tanghalang Pilipino Executive Director Leslie Noble said.

When it unleashes its grand fountain, CCP is a joy to behold with the Philippine flag gently flapping at the background.
Just lazying on its grounds, biking or jogging around its premises gives freedom to the soul. Countrymen, it has given us so much. It’s time to give something back.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


By Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 6, 2011

The world’s best creative minds chose Saatchi & Saatchi Manila as the Philippines’ Agency of the Year.

It is based on results from the world’s biggest, toughest and most prestigious award competitions.

Points from Cannes, Clio, One Show, Adfest, London, New York Festivals, Spikes Asia and the Holy Grail of advertising, D&AD, for the year immediately preceding, are tabulated by Asia’s authority in creative rankings -Campaign Brief Asia.

The rankings honor the performances of 171 agencies, over 1500 copywriters and art directors that have sparkled in regional and international awards over the past two years.

Country-by-country breakdowns for Singapore, Thailand, Japan, India, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam are also included.

No frills, just a lot of thrills. No drums and bugles, just a lot of passion and hardwork.

That’s Aussie Executive Creative Director Andrew Petch, who almost single-handedly made it happen for Saatchi Manila.

When Petch came over to the Philippines to take over a largely abandoned creative ship, Petch just buckled down to work without much fanfare.

Today, his Saatchi Manila creative team, as well as the entire agency headed by Matt Seddon, has achieved something wilder beyond their imagination. The world is trumpeting his achievements.

Not only did he keep his Hottest Creative title, three other local Saatchi guys snared the next three juiciest spots, making it a formidable Saatchi show.

Two and a half years ago, Petch had a daunting task: shore up Saatchi & Saatchi Manila out of the doldrums and bring it up the creative ladder it once lopsidedly dominated for decades.

The long journey into night was like winter back home where he used to show his wares, at Saatchi London. He passionately mentored Filipino creatives and out of that nurturing, spring hovered around the imposing white Saatchi House along Pasong Tamo.

“It wasn’t just putting icing on the same cake. I created a new cake using the same ingredients: people with lots of motivation and inspiration,” he said.

2010 and 2011 turned out to be Saatchi’s brightest summers, exploding with awards one after the other. They were major ones and the boom began.

Last year, Saatchi won a Cannes Lion and was the country’s best performer in Clio, repeating the same feat this year.
In Asia Adfest last March, it was one of the five most awarded agencies in the festival, propelling Manila to its loftiest position ever, upstaging the usual suspects. The agency was on a roll after that.

A host of silver Clio statuettes for its Vespa “Our Ride” campaign followed, making it as the 15th most awarded print work in the world last year, according to the latest edition of the industry bible, The Gunn Report.

This is the Philippines’ highest ever ranking since it started in 1999, beating the previous record holder, JWT Manila’s “Trees” print ad for Greenpeace in 2006, which came 19th.

Vespa’s “Our Ride” (“Hug”) also won gold in London International Awards and Clio, as well as Asia Adfest’s Best of the Best in Print. D&AD rewarded it with a nomination.

With all results validated by Campaign Brief Asia, the agency catapulted to a resounding Philippine Agency of the Year.
Ranked zero in 2008, the agency amassed a total of 490 points in 2010 pole vaulting to Number 1 spot, enabling it to barge into the elite club of Top 20 Agencies in Asia (No. 18), the highest a Philippine agency ever achieved in its history.

The achievement reverberated as far as Saatchi headquarters in London, New York and more than 150 offices in 86 countries.

Who is Petch and how did he do it in such a short time? Our one-on-one interview:

What immediate reforms did you do to achieve that dream?

Petch: “I didn’t require anyone to do anything nor did I start poaching people from other hot shot local ad agencies.
I just told my team that they could be the best if they wanted to and I have certain standards.

All I did was do the basic: I wanted them to renew their love for creativity, fall in love with that word again and make them aware of the Saatchi & Saatchi mantra: Saatchi is the hotbed for world-changing ideas.
We surrounded walls with inspirational ideas, anything that could spark and trigger creativity.

What is your style, formula for success?

I lead by example. I am not a believer of “quick-fix” formula. I believe in compassionate mentoring. All I focused on was to get the job done.

I believe in the power of creativity, that big, original and impactful ideas can make a campaign with a goliath-like media budget, dead.

When I came on board Saatchi, I came only with this mindset: A healthy Saatchi is a healthy industry.

I am not a guy who would put pressure on anyone. The real pressure is: the world’s standards, whether everyone is measuring up to it or not.

I don’t believe in “star creative” or “star team”. I believe that everyone could be a star and the whole agency could shine like a luminous star.

What is your dream campaign?

It is one that is nationally loved by consumers and embraced by international award shows and my peers, something that moves a nation and creative people anywhere in the world.
Nothing beats the feeling of being recognized for a work that you’ve put a lot of heart to it.

How would you sell Filipino talents to the international market?

Filipino talents are world-class. New generations of Filipino talents are amazing. Their level of understanding new media is incredible. They’re no different from other citizens of advanced Asian countries.

Brand Philippines: how would you sell the Philippines to the world?

The world hasn’t really ‘discovered’ the Philippines and that’s sad. You are one of the world’s most beautiful countries.
I have been to places in your country many Filipinos haven’t even been to and I can say with conviction that the Philippines is Asia’s best-kept secret.

What is your biggest frustration, satisfaction?

Bad execution ruins a big idea. It turns to nothing if it’s poorly executed. Badly executed ideas are a huge waste of time and money.

Petch has gone a long way and has officially turned the agency around. He’s pushing it further to the top and isn’t resting on his laurels.

He counts not only awards but also blessings in the form of being able to change clients’ mindset. He wooed a marketing team, for example, using “the humble approach” and convinced it that the power of creativity can push market leadership even to greater heights.

Monday, August 8, 2011


By Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 30, 2011

Gizmos. Thingamajigs. Tablets. Androids. Whatchamacallits.

What else do you have? Your shoelace has a microchip that can record boardroom meetings. You live in your own world, so engrossed with that high-end computer you’ve become an unrecognizable geek.

How many hours have you logged in today? You’ve been ‘talking’ to your laptop since this morning, will you ever stop?
You craned your neck watching Transformer 3, that blockbuster movie. What has that transformed you, a robot?

Are new digital trends gobbling you up?

Are we on our way to becoming humanoids, doing things in a mechanical, repetitive way?

We are humans. We have hearts and minds. We have emotions. We are not machines. We are people.

“This is a people’s era. We should treat people as people. Consumers are people,” says recent Manila visitor Jarek Ziebinski, Leo Burnett Asia Pacific President.

Ziebinski, who’s as humanly warm and engaging as anyone could, talked about advertising amidst new digital trends, technology and a world filled with constantly changing technology inventions.

“We should always put people in the center of everything. When we focus on people and understand the way they behave, we are able to connect. When we are able to connect we impact the way they behave in the store,” he says.

Why do you think Nike became people’s shoes, McDonald’s as people’s simple, easy, enjoyment place, and Canon as people’s camera?
Because these brands listened to people Ziebinski tells us. They dialogued, not monologued with people and listened to them.
Marketers lose brand ownership because they take people for granted. He also emphasized that people are powerful when it comes to buying decisions.

“People have their own minds, they think, they give feedback, they build communities. With a collective group of communities, especially on social media sites, they can be influential in choosing which brand to buy,” he says.


Regional presidents should learn a lot from Ziebinski’s style of unorthodox management. He is the unconventional king.

The former marketing director who conceptualized and made Poland’s best-selling multi-fruit drink brand, eventually engineered and steered 16 Leo Burnett agencies in Central and Eastern Europe as Agency of the Year for a long time running, 42 awesome times.

“I don’t believe in email management. I firmly believe in deep engagement with people around me, I go to them,” he says.

Young at the helm, very energetic as opposed to lethargic, Ziebinski doesn’t believe in implanting him in a headquarter office, cozying himself in a posh executive building and living the life of a highly privileged expat.

His headquarters are different Leo Burnett offices around Asia Pacific where he champions bold initiatives to optimize growth and resources of the network.

It’s giving payback, and how. In 2010, Leo Burnett Asia Pacific hit multi-dimensional and double-digit growth, Burnett’s highest in 6 years.
He introduced IPC (Internal Product Committee) replacing the role of a regional Executive Creative Director whom he says may not have extensive local knowledge of certain markets.

Taking note of Asia’s wide diversity and ethnic idiosyncrasies, five seasoned ECDs took additional country responsibilities.
The move dismantled bureaucracy, overhead and operational costs, thus enhancing the network’s collective drive for a greater creative output.
The new set-up added creative weight and made a resounding impact for Burnett in major international award shows like Cannes, Spikes Asia and Adfest.

These creative superiority brought effectivity results to clients Canon, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Tourism Authority of Thailand, among others.

Leo Burnett Melbourne, for example, won a Cannes Grand Prix Lion for its "See The Person," campaign. In total, the Burnett Group walked away with 44 Cannes Lions at this year's festival.

Mark Tutssel, Global Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide who will be a most special guest in the coming Philippine Advertising Congress in November, says, "Winning a coveted Grand Prix for Good and one of the first Gold Lions for Creative Effectiveness in Cannes is remarkable.”

Ziebinski’s target this year is to make Leo Burnett the fastest growing network in Asia Pacific.

Not far-fetched as all Leo Burnett countries, by the second quarter of the year, are already poised to achieve another double-digit banner year.
Leo Burnett Manila Managing Director Raymond Arrastia echoes the same optimism, saying: “We are determined to achieve sustainable growth across all channels, including digital and shopper marketing.

With these new additional marketing arms ready to service Burnett Manila’s roster of clients, Arrastia is excited to “deliver the right solutions to meet the requirements of engaging consumers.”

“We’re bringing the best talents as people are the center of everything we do in the agency: to get better and to remain on top,” he says.


Often asked how he got into the business, Ziebinski, like founder Leo Burnett, would always answer, “I didn't. The business got into me.”

A marketing person in the truest sense of the word, Ziebinski is very emphatic in saying, “we are not ad agencies anymore. We are marketing and brand communicators.”

Ziebinski is so right. In the constantly changing advertising landscape, an ad agency that pigeonholes itself as such is destined to be irrelevant. It must go with the flow, or even re-invent itself to achieve more.

The former chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Central and Eastern Europe for almost a decade did just like that. Soon enough, he propelled the network to 13 Cannes Lions and 1,451 creative awards. He also helped push the Russian market to Top 10 from out of nowhere.

A member of Leo Burnett Global Leadership Council since 2006, Ziebinski is profuse with optimism when he talks. He is always inspirational, motivational and makes it a point to add value to his people.

Clients who are priorities to Ziebinski, no wonder he became CEO of Leo Burnett Poland (1996 to 2001), which eventuall ranked among the world’s most awarded agencies in 2001.

Ziebinski made significant contributions to the advancement of advertising in Central and Eastern Europe. The first president of Polish Advertising Agencies Association and founder of Polish Creative Directors Club and Effie Awards was also its first president.
Last year, he was named “Man of the Year by Poland’s ad industry and “AdMan of the Decade” by Poland’s Marketing Serwis magazine.


Monday, August 1, 2011


By Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 23, 2011

Veni. Vidi. Is your video HD? That is the question.

Don’t blink. Stayed glued. Watch closely.

Was that tv commercial shot in 35mm film or HD (High Definition)?
Millions of tv viewers won’t see the difference.

Unless told, even marketing and advertising people won’t see the difference either.

All they’ll see is the ad has rich color tones - green is green, red is red and all colors of the rainbow are captured just like nature made it.

But to a trained eye, that is another story.

Before 35mm and HD, all our tv commercials had washed out color tones and they easily faded away.
They were probably shot in video with no color processing and grading done on them.

Today, as technology improved and moved forward, our tv ads looked as if they were made in Hollywood, so real you’d think images on screen would jump out from your tv set.

The skin tones of women, in beauty soap commercials, for example, are supple, rosier, like the petal of a rose, to use a tagline once used by a product.Those ads were shot in 35mm film.

To the uninitiated, 35mm is the classic way of filming a movie or commercial, using raw stocks of film, the ultimate medium meant to capture color at its highest intensity and define image quality to crispiest, sharpest, littlest detail.

The film is cut into 35 millimeters strips (about 1 3/8 inches) wide, therefore the name.

HD is the latest invention today with the advent of digital age, made to push filming quality to the level of 35mm.
All over the world, HD has provided an amazing alternative to 35mm – allowing editing ease and shortening the film process.
With a bonus at that - putting a smile to advertisers by cutting a big chunk off the production cost.

While the purists and the best cinematographers in the world would still choose to shoot in 35mm over HD, the high cost of making a tv commercial in the Philippines and other parts of the world, however, is tilting the balance in favor of HD.

“Practically only 10% of commercials now are shot in 35mm, the rest are using HD,” Desiree Pe-Beasley, a veteran Filipina tv commercial producer says. Beasley who is celebrating her 22nd year in the industry says, “In many global markets HD has cut into 35mm film’s turf by a lopsided margin.”

“When time is the essence and clients want to save on cost without compromising on quality, HD provides a ready answer,” she says.
HD’s significant edge is that it allows tv commercial production houses to edit, delete and check on the spot without wasting rolls and rolls of film as one would on 35mm.

A boon indeed to the ad industry, ensuring that tv commercials will continue to flourish even with the law of diminishing budgets and upsurge of new media.

Making A TV Commercial

Apart from being expensive to do, the process is taxing and putting together all steps in one cohesive flow can be a logistical nightmare.
Thus, ad agencies, hire the services of a producer who is adept at organizing - the navigator at this stage, tasked to deliver the creative intent of both client and ad agency.

“The role of a producer is to deliver cost-efficiency, get the best team and make sure all communication points seep down to the last member of the crew,” Beasley says matter-of-factly.

Beasley who has practically done tv commercials for all product categories (telecom, detergents, personal care, dairy, food, alcohol and non-alcohol beverage, financial institutions, consumer durables, hotels among others) started out a caster for the trail-blazing “Bagong Tunog”, “Angat Sa Iba” and “Bilib Sa Pinoy” for Pop Cola a couple of years back.

She recently produced a number of tv commercials for San Miguel Beer Pale Pilsen, Smart-Department of Tourism campaign and Belo For Men skin lines.

When not producing projects for other clients, Beasley sits on the board of FluidPost as Executive Director.

The newest post-production house in Manila, FluidPosts aims to provide a new excitement for ad agencies, corporate and production houses with a one-stop shop for cutting-edge production support (visual effects, animation and outstanding audio services).

Beasley has cut a name for herself in the industry as professional. “Producers are not coordinators. One should be worth the talent he or she is paid for. If people treat them as coordinators, it’s their fault because they allowed themselves to be treated as such,” she says.
She has worked with the best creative minds in the industry starting with Minyong Ordonez, Nonoy Gallardo and Tony Mercado and credits Ding Fernandez and Marlon Rivera as her brilliant mentors.

She describes herself as very good at what she does and advices beginners to “learn the trade before printing that word “producer” on their business cards.


Have you imagined a day without tv, your main source of prime information, entertainment and instant news?

Without a doubt, television is the most authoritative, influential and persuasive communication medium we have today and that hasn’t changed.

Inspite of new paradigm shift that unjustly labeled it as a traditional medium, the real queen of all media actually pays dividends in the form of deeper household penetration.

According to a National Statistics Office research and Mass Media survey, Filipinos spend a high number of hours watching tv - about 300 minutes every day, second to Japanese viewers.

From Aparri to Jolo our Aling Bebang of Tondo, Teacher Janet Maduro of Puerto Princesa or heiress Dona Henrietta de la Merced of Zamboanga spend tv viewing at any given time, reaching peak viewing between noon and 1 pm and on the prime time from 7 to 10 pm.

Metro Manila has the highest television penetration rate (% of population with TV sets) at 96%.

Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan have a combined TV penetration rate of 93%. Luzon has an average tv penetration rate of 70%, Mindanao 63% and Visayas 60%.

Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces have the highest tv reach than any other region in the country.

So don’t even think that tv advertising isn’t worth it. The solid facts don’t lie.