Thursday, October 27, 2011


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Advertising is a double-edged sword. It can cut down your competition to size or it could backfire.

It could be your best ammunition for generating sales or call attention to your product flaws.

It could make your product very desirable. It could expose your brand to closer scrutiny against competition—benefit for benefit, feature for feature, strength for strength.

Many brands have reached iconic levels because they gallantly stood the tests of time and evolved with the changing needs of the world.

Look at Apple. It rolls with the times and Steve Jobs, before he died, kept saying, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

20 years and counting, and not just existing—but continuously improving to keep people’s lives a little better. That’s what brands should be.

When brands improve with the times the results are beautiful. Harvests are aplenty. They bust sales charts and laugh all the way to the bank. Does your favorite brand belong to this category?

“Quite a number of brands are now better off forgotten because they made more harm than good to consumers,” says a marketing guru.

Some brands, like detergents and deodorants, were harmful to the skin consumers just stopped buying them. They caused not only allergies and skin rashes they also left stains and darkened some sensitive parts of the body like armpits.

They contained harsh formulations, aggravating frustrations of people who used them.

A number of consumers have also become allergic to some whitening soap and cream brands for causing facial blemishes and rashes.

Many, for sure, will have horror stories to tell about brands that make promises they don’t deliver—soaps that melt easily and last only a couple of days; detergent powders and bars that don’t give much cleaning power and lather.

Acne ointments that only made your zits worse, anti-perspirants that do the opposite, moisturizers that make you look greasy all day.

Scents that dissipate in a few minutes after wearing them.

Hotel and restaurant bills that are not worth the hard money you pay for.

These brands are best forgotten. They would never be archived in London’s Museum of Brands, the largest repository of existing brands and those that died through the years.

Museum of Brands, as the name implies, houses an astonishing collection of brands collected by social historian Robert Opie. It is a “‘trip down memory lane,” according to its website, beginning with the Victorian era down to the present day.

As one steps into the premises, visitors will be overwhelmed by the amount of items on display.

Every inch is filled with packages, toys, games, books and ads from each era of the bygone days.

Great brands, bad brands

“There are great brands and brands that are just brands. There’s a big gap between the two,” says a veteran ad man.

“Some brands were ideas created with consumers in mind. Some brands were made just to get fast bucks out of na├»ve consumers,” he says.

“Oh, yes, some brands belonged to the flash-in-the-pan category,” he laments.

The black panty liners

“The color black rocks,” says a famous panty liner brand on its blog. “It does the job when it comes to feminine hygiene and 66 percent of women say it’s a favorite because it’s comfortable, breathable, dermatologically tested, unscented and discreet.”

Ten years ago, another packaged goods multinational giant launched an all-black version of its top feminine hygiene product.

In order to create excitement in Europe, it launched a web auction of used black clothing’s donated by celebrities. Imagine owning a piece of black dress from Mel C of the Spice Girls, and American actresses Brooke Shields and Meryl Streep?

Throughout the promotion, the auction site logged in 45,000 visits and averaged 5,000 daily hits. All proceeds from the sale went to charity, and the company was hoping the goodwill generated would rub off on its panty black liner products sold in some countries in Europe.

What happened?

Consumer acceptance, among the ladies of course, was lukewarm.

The packaging was great. And because it was thin and small, it was easy to slip in a small purse and women can be fresh all day.

The product had an odor control, which kept women smelling fresh at the end of the day. The only problem women found out was that the adhesive left marks on the underwear, a negative attribute many women disliked.

The product was launched in Manila in 2002 by J & J Philippines in an all-black party in Makati.

A check with the distribution network of black panty liners in the Philippines, specifically big Makati supermarkets, reveals that they are not available anymore. They can, however, be purchased online.

Starts with the product

Many great men in advertising always referred back to the product as a marketer’s best weapon for advertising. “No amount of advertising can sell a bad product. It will only enhance its demise,” says Bernbach, the famous B in the DDB acronym.

Another advertising icon, Leo Burnett, gave us two of the most often quoted lines about a product: “The greatest thing to be achieved in advertising, in my opinion, is believability, and nothing is more believable than the product itself.”

“We want consumers to say, “That’s a hell of a product” instead of, “That’s a hell of an ad,” Burnett said.

Another advertising great, David Ogilvy, stated: “It has taken more than a hundred scientists two years to find out how to make the product in question. I have been given 30 days to create its personality and plan its launching. If I do my job well, I shall contribute as much as the hundred scientists.”

A product that delivers and keeps abreast with the times has a bright future of making it a brand. Great products make great brands.

And a great brand will forever remain in the hearts and minds of consumers. Bad brands will pass like a ship in the night, virtually not remembered and buried in the dustbin.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011



Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 20, 2011

It was almost synonymous to bouncy, healthy kids, made your lola’s summer “Halo-Halo” delightfully creamy, and turned her leche flan so delicious the whole family kept craving for more.

But as in some love stories, the whirlwind romance must end and lovers drift apart, never to see each other again.

Darigold would have become a generic name for milk, had it not pulled out of the country during martial law days. But that’s going ahead of the story.

Under Darigold Company Seattle subsidiary, Darigold produced the first canned evaporated milk in the country in 1957.

At the height of its popularity, Darigold bought a 30-minute segment (on tv and radio) and launched “Darigold Jamboree” to strengthen its presence in the Philippines.

Media biggies Johnny Wilson, Eddie Ilarde, Bobby Ledesma, Bentot, Pepe Pimentel, Thelma Kennedy, Leila Benitez and newcomer Luz Valdez alternately took turns in hosting in what would become the country’s most popular noon time show.

The “Eat Bulaga” of the 60s (without the gyrating promo girls in the background) helped Darigold became a dominating market leader in the evap milk category.

In this show, “Darigold Jamboree” introduced the “lucky home partner” mechanics we always see today (send in your labels and you and the contestant win a prize if your label is picked).

“Darigold Jamboree” also set the stage for the debut of a Bicolana girl from Iriga, the bus station drinking water peddler who would soon become a superstar.

Hard-pressed to win because her parents couldn’t afford her older sister’s tuition, Nora Cabaltera Villamayor joined the show’s “Bulilit” singing contest. She won the 20-peso major cash prize, exactly what her parents needed.

She bested older singers in the main competition bracket, winning the top prize once more.

On a roll, she won another, this time from Darigold’s archrival - Liberty Milk’s “The Big Show,” where she would later change her name to Nora Aunor.

Aunor later on joined “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” where she stood out on her first try, was defeated on the second, but unstoppable for 14 suspenseful weeks. The rest is history.

“Darigold Jamboree” enjoyed a great 8-year run, starting in 1964 and bowed out in 1972.

The brand first advertised in 1958 and would eventually square off with Liberty Milk for two decades.
Like reigning movie queens Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes in that era, the competition was ominous for it led to another generation of movie star rivalry: Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. But that’s an entirely different story.

Darigold is best remembered as a milk brand the whole nation fell in love with because of its creamy goodness.
It had aggressive marketing, wider media presence and fundamental basic fact: good product quality.

“Darigold was an example of a brand worth selling. You stock crates of them, you sold them easy,” said a big grocery owner who is now owner of a supermarket.

“Brand-wise, everything was going for Darigold,” he said.

“Darigold scored high in research ratings,” says a successful Rockwell restaurant owner.

Many moms called their kids “Darigold” for being energetic, active and healthy. “Laki sa Darigold,” they say. The jingle, sung by a little boy went with these lyrics: “Gusto ko ng gatas ng Darigold” (brand name repeated 3 times). Darigold ang inyong bilhin!”

Multinational brand heritage, rich creamy smell and taste, attractive red label with visible bold font, omnipresent media presence, top-of-mind awareness, wide distribution and strong non-traditional advertising support, what could possibly go wrong with a brand with tremendous consumer acceptability?


Why did the brand evaporate from supermarket shelves, household kitchen refs and cupboards?

The same questions throngs of consumers asked when Darigold slowly began to fade away, until it totally vanished.

For 20 years, Darigold operated a processing and tin can plant in the Philippines.
As it was lording the evap category and close to upstaging Liberty in condensed milk segment, the local Darigold partners were locked in a bitter legal battle with its mother company.

After the courts handed down painful decisions for both, the brand vowed out of existence in the mid 70s.


Liberty Evap and Liberty Condensada were very popular during the 50s but tapered down in the last two decades after ownership of the brand changed hands.

For many years, pinoy families loved the goodness of Liberty Condensada, the better selling product variant. It said “Ang paborito ng pamilya”, throughout its advertising campaign. Thematically, Liberty had a bouncy jingle with a woman singing the brand name repetitively, the predictable genre during that time.

In strategic alliances with global food giant Societe de Produits Nestle, Alaska Manufacturing Company acquired Liberty, along with Alpine and Krem-Top brands in April 16, 2007.

A most recent supermarket store check however, proved futile - the brand can’t be found. Storeowners say it doesn’t exist anymore.

On its website, Alaska mentions Liberty and Alpine as its strong regional brands, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao.
Alpine is a made from whole cow's milk with “The Creamier Evap” market positioning.

In the 50s, Klim, Milkmaid and Dutch Baby also advertised heavily in the country’s best selling magazines: Philippine Free Press, Nation and Kislap-Graphic as well as in leading newspapers like Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, Manila Daily Bulletin, The Daily Mirror and Evening News.

With the coming of more magazines targeting women and housewives, like Women’s and Woman’s, these milk brands cranked up the heat and advertised heavily, in full page, full color almost all-year round.

Pancho Pantera Choco was another favorite that totally disappeared, a powder brand marketed in the Philippines during the 1960s. PPC was manufactured in the U.S. but distributed locally by Garrick Enterprises, Philippines Inc.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


By Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 13, 2011

Advertising and Media in Hollywood movies? Yes, and why not? There are plenty.

“The Easiest Way” (1931) was the earliest film made with advertising as theme.

“Crazy People” (1990), “Suits” (1999), “Art and Copy” (2009) were among those made in the last three decades.

In the 1976 movie “Network”, Faye Dunaway won the Best Actress Oscar for her explosive portrayal of a ratings-obsessed producer. The top-grossing movie told abuses inside television networks.

Surely you must have heard of “Mad Men”, the long-running tv drama about “madvertising” people, highly acclaimed for its truthful delineation of real characters that inhabit the world of advertising.

The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning series is about an intricate web of manipulation woven by men and women who prowl inside the walls of a prestigious ad agency in Madison Avenue, the famous street in New York.

Admen anywhere in the world can easily spot themselves in the series, thanks to its author Matthew Weiner, who also created a very apt title.

When 20 ad agencies sprouted in that part of the Big Apple in 1861, Madison became synonymous to the American advertising industry.

A number of these ad agencies went on to become big multinational brands. With Madison as a glamorous address their value increased and the street became the hub of American 4A’s.

Across the Pacific and after the war, a street in Malate, Manila was beginning to resemble like Madison.

Vito Cruz, now Pablo Ocampo Street, was a virtual advertising row, a “Pinoy Madison Avenue”, said Greg Macabenta in his soon-to-be-launched book, “How To Make A Benta”.

Vito Cruz played host to a number of local ad agencies that were brands by themselves owing to the number of important clients they do business with.

Grant Advertising was the queen on that street, handling most, if not all Colgate-Palmolive products and other top accounts like Kodak, Ajinomoto and Philippine Plaza Hotel (now Sofitel).

The agency eventually became Bates-Alcantara, rebranded as Dentsu, Young & Rubicam, and finally repackaged as Y&R when the Alcantaras sold out to the former.

Just three houses away was the Tony Cantero-owned The Group, another dynamic agency, which honed many outstanding creative people in the years to come.

Toward Roxas, Philprom, owned by industry pioneer Pete Teodoro, lorded it over and was considered one of the top shops in terms of billings.

Admakers occupied a heritage house just off Vito Cruz until it transferred to Balete Drive in Quezon City.

QSV (Quiambao, Soriano and de Venecia, yes, the former Speaker of the House) located just across Rizal Memorial Coliseum was aggressive and had the budget-rich Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office business.

Right close to Manila Hotel, J. Walter Thompson held office in Mary Bachrach building whom many gossipped as having nightly paranormal occupants.

The Manila Hotel lobby was the place to be seen and rub elbows with admen. “It was the equivalent of today’s watering holes at Shangrila and Manila Pen where businessmen held luncheon meetings, sipped coffee, and acted important,” recalled Macabenta.

Before the invasion of multinationals in Manila, there were the formidable locals: Pacifica Publicity Bureau, Hemisphere, Reach, Link, Avellana, Tactica, Summit, Commerce, Advance, Ideas, Nation-Ad, Asia-Com, Asia-West, Comstrat, Motivators, Compedge, Mascom, Mojica, de la Paz and Roy, Nancy Harel, Aviacom among others. They’re all gone now.

Ace Advertising, before it became Ace Compton was in chic Escolta.

Macabenta’s memoirs of the Madisonization of Manila, details his personal anecdotes, lectures, and articles from real Filipino advertising battlegrounds, unlike most ad books we know that use foreign case studies.

Making a word pun on his “Macabenta” name which literally means “to make a sale”, the writer, jingle-maker, radio and tv producer, cartoonist, account executive, creative director, patriot, former Philippine 4A’s president, Ad Congress chair and CEO of AMA, gives us a style with a large dose of humor, solid with “insights drawn from campaigns that are considered classics in Philippine advertising.”

Greg Garcia III, former chair and ECD of Leo Burnett Manila, describes it as “the definitive book on Philippine advertising as seen and lived by Greg.”

Macabenta also gives tribute to the almost forgotten drillmaster, one of the country’s legends in advertising and founding chairman of Asian Federation of Advertising Association (AFAA), Antonio de Joya.

He rebukes younger colleagues in the industry with no sense of history, calling it “such an irony”.

For those who were not born yet when de Joya spearheaded the country in the Philippines and Asian advertising zenith, de Joya set up Ace Advertising, forerunner of Ace-Saatchi.

De Joya founded AMA using “The Total Approach” philosophy long before the advertising jargon “integrated, 360-degree campaign” became cool to flaunt in creative briefs.

De Joya was also a brilliant copywriter who penned a Philippine copywriting classic, “a little can buy a lot” for Sta. Mesa Heights, one of the earliest upscale subdivisions in greater Manila.

In his book, Macabenta walks down in history and remembers when Filipro needed a hardworking PR group.
He recalls how Filipro hired AMA to handle sensitive government lobbying. The relationship paved way for the entry of Swiss-company Nestle in the Philippines and thus began one of the longest and most envied Manila client-agency relationships in marketing.

Macabenta consummates the entire golden era of AMA in one engaging book, including the launching of “One World of Nescafe” and “Great Cities of the World” campaigns where he partnered with Nestle’s marketing honcho Levi Castillo.

The book described it as “undoubtedly, the most successful ever mounted for a coffee brand in the Philippines.”
Macabenta details how Milo toppled a seemingly unstoppable market leader Ovaltine and how AMA became a round-the-clock “Milo Olympic Energy” ad agency.

“How To Make A Benta” includes hard-to-find dissertations and best practices documents - all very Pinoy case studies, step-by-step teachings in advertising, especially the hard way - when computers and digital age were zilch and all the agency had were Pinoy guts, ingenuity, hardwork and nothing more.

Full of punchlines and replete with witticisms in most of the paragraphs of the entire book, Macabenta takes us to a joyful, poignant, revealing, absorbing reading.

His commentary on the Filipino diaspora is one such. Every Filipino who has left his country to look for the proverbial American dream should read it.

The book also chronicles the setting up of AMA USA after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino brought uncertainties in the mid-80s and clients eased down on spending.

When it did, Joselito de Joya, Antonio de Joya’s eldest son, planted the seeds in America together with his wife Julie. The two “literally had to be a Task Force Total Approach”.

Lito, being president was also AE, copywriter, producer, an occasional videographer and media director.
Julie, a former Ateneo school teacher, multi-tasked as production manager, caster, make-up artist, video editor, credit collector and bookkeeper.

When the elder de Joya died, Lito came back to the Philippines to head the agency. He and Macabenta switched roles. The latter retired and manned the US operations.

To keep its Nestle business, AMA partnered with Publicis, the globally aligned Nestle agency based in Paris. But as in the intricate and mind-boggling “Mad Men” drama, the partnership would not last long.