Thursday, January 26, 2012


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 27, 2012

A line in Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “The Sound of Silence” goes:

“People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening.”

Sounds like an ad that’s not communicating and an audience that’s ignoring what it is saying.

Tired of seeing ads that just fire away and talking coldly? Try radio. The medium hits it right.

On radio, the announcer ‘talks but speaks’ directly to you, on a one-on-one basis.

“Crafted in the same manner, radio ads have the same effect and can be more engaging than any other medium,” says a media director.

Radio ads instantanteously get listeners’ attention because it’s emotion to emotion, talking to the audience personally.

“Without human emotion, not even the flashiest, latest technology in advertising, 3-D and all that jazz can connect to consumers,” a multi-awarded radio ad copywriter said.

Radio fills in the emotion where other mediums cannot.

Warm, not cold, intimate not detached, personal not otherwise, a medium with a heart - that is radio.

KBP (Kapisanan ng Mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas) reports that radio reach in the Philippines is 98.5 percent of the population, one of the highest in Southeast Asia.

“Not only are many Filipinos tuning in to radio, they also spend much time listening — 17.7 hours per week,” it said.

Producing a simple 30-second radio commercial is just a drop in the bucket compared to what advertisers spend on a tv commercial.

“You can have it in the can from P50-P90K, fully recorded, edited and mixed using a single-voice talent,” a producer says.

And it costs just a fraction of tv ad to air a single spot – 5K to 7K on prime time of top-rating FM stations. The cost is even lower on AM stations.


As in all other ads, a radio ad begins with a script.

It can be a one-off (single campaign) or part of an integrated effort (full-blown advertising) based on a specific theme.

The usual ingredients of a great radio ad are: a creative script rich with witty lines delivered by great voice talents.

Sound effects, music and overall sound design can also make or break a radio ad.

Oh, yes, you need a reliable sound studio that can deliver crisp, flawless mixing and editing to soar.

Business Friday interviews Vic Icasas, President and Managing Partner of Hit Productions - the Philippines’ most dominating audio production house for the last 20 years.

As everyone knows in the ad industry, Hit produced the Philippines’ first ever Cannes Gold Lion in radio (created by JWT Manila in 2007 for client Lotus Spa).

Winner of 11 incredible times (out of the last 14 years) as 4A’s Audio Production House of the Year, Hit is also twice winner of Ad Congress’ Production House of the Year award.

Business Friday: How is radio advertising now in digital age?

Vic Icasas: I think it’s undeniable that radio advertising in the Philippines isn’t what it used to be.

In the past year or two, we’ve noticed a definite downturn in the amount of radio spots being done at our studio.

I was also asked to help judge at last year’s Ad Congress and was taken aback not just by how many digital short films and viral ads were nominated but few radio campaigns showed up as finalists. Can’t be a coincidence.

BF: What can radio do that other communication channels cannot?

VI: Radio can be very specifically targeted at provinces and regions where a national tv campaign doesn’t quite do the trick.

We have a tie up with a major Philippine radio network that helps us find authentic local talents and record genuine dialect tracks that aren’t diluted by the big city.

Music driven radio ads, i.e. jingle and song-based campaigns, will always have a natural home on radio, and for a music-loving country like ours, I don’t see that going away anytime soon.

A creative radio script, executed properly, can still evoke images and situations that even a big-budget tv ad and the most sophisticated computer graphics cannot.
BF: Why is Hit a hit among many ad agencies, what’s your secret?

VI: We take great pride in the quality of of our service.

Working with ad agencies and producers is always a team effort.
They bring us their ideas, and we do our best to execute and craft them the way they envisioned or even come up with something totally new.

We pride ourselves on being not just a supplier but as collaborator.
A big part of the team is made up of passionate and creative people aged 20 to early 30s so we’re still attuned to the sound of the younger generation.

BF: How do you keep abreast with the growing demands of clients?

VI: My partners and I are constantly trying to reinvent our business model to adjust to the changes in the industry.

We were the first company to put both music composers and audio post studios under one roof, unheard of back then.

There was also a time that almost every bit of advertising music you’d hear came from synthesizers and computerized orchestras the agencies got tired of them.

So we hired a top American acoustician and built a great band-recording studio capable of recording everything.

From live horn sections to vocal groups to jazz quartets, with a real grand piano and upright bass to live ukelele, an ethnic percussion track, or a Christmas carol played on coffee mugs, Hit Productions has recorded them all.

Today, the award-winning audio production company has a surround mix-room, with an adjoining Foley sound effects recording studio with a whole slew of props and toys.

Want to hear even the tiniest drop of water to its crispiest detail?

Hit has different kinds of floor surfaces that can capture that, a bathtub with a microphone – “all to take the quality of sound effects beyond the normal stuff that comes off from a CD library,” Icasas said.

In the last few months Hit has also done a couple of surround mixes for cinema and event projects, hitting big happy results.

With radio and tv commercial soundtrack recordings, Hit can’t really be a hit and miss. It’s sure thing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 20, 2012 issue

You bet, your neighbor’s little muffet can mimic a tv host’s antics, and mouth his lines in one click.

And how right you are, your aunt knows that telenobela heroine. Come hellish traffic or high water, she’s home just in time to watch her favorite soap, never wanting to miss a thing.

In a small barangay, where and when everyone is at home, including the household help (and occasionally some people peering by the window) you can safely say, the whole nation is watching tv.

97%, (some say 100% now) of Filipino homes have television, even low-income groups can boast of having one. Flat, plasma, wide screen, state-of-the-art digital-sound surround, a home theatre, name it, we got it.

Filipinos watch tv a lot, an average of almost 8 hours a day, according to research specialist AC Nielsen.

When we watch commercials, we know that someone in the family will be good at remembering the parts or even the whole ad itself.

That someone will eventually become part of a critical mass contributing to brand recall, shelf offtake and loyalty.

Captive market, mass appeal, high penetration and the ability to sell entertainingly make tv commercials a primary medium for advertisers inspite of the costs.

A decent 30-second tv commercial without much special effects and multitude of talents normally costs 2 to 3 million pesos.

Depending on the story, location and post-production enhancements needed, the amount could jack up by half as much. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

An advertiser must need a bigger tranche of money to pay the cost of airing that commercial. A single 15, 30, 45 or 60-second tv ad (the normal time limit allowed for tv ads to broadcast on air) costs thousands of pesos.

A simple 15-second tv commercial aired on primetime (when mass-market viewers are at home) is about P100K to P400K per airing while a 30-second tv ad on primetime costs P500K to P1M.

Multiply the number of times it is aired in one day, a week, per month, for 6 months or one year, go figure: the amount an advertiser is spending and the money tv networks are earning.

Briefly, a tv commercial 101 refresher course:

A tv ad is part of mainstream advertising, the good old reliable traditional medium of reaching a nationwide audience.

Because it can pierce deeper into a broader market and register a near perfect target, marketers pump in money on this medium.


A tv commercial begins with a client’s marketing brief from where the ad agency develops a strategy document - the road map concurred by both parties.

It goes next to the creative group of the agency, which then brainstorms on ideas best suited to address the client’s marketing problem.

Ideas, like inspirations, can come from anywhere: day-to-day situations, insights from a wet market vendor, the way people behave during unguarded moments, even from, yes, contents of a garbage can.

When the agency is ready to make a recommendation to client, a first pass meeting is scheduled.

Concept boards (shorter but idea-packed version of full-blown storyboards, the frame by frame picture story-telling of the raw commercial, usually done illustration style, computer-rendered or animated) are presented to client.

Once approved after a series of meetings, the storyboard is bidded out to third party suppliers – the production houses.

Feasibility and pre-production meetings commence, locations are checked, casting of talents are finalized, acting workshops are conducted and, finally, you’re off to the first shooting day.


There are a number of tv production houses in the Philippines, big, medium and small in terms of experience, longevity, creativity and knowledge of current global trends.

We picked someone young but awesome in credentials: Four-year old Revolver Studios, last Ad Congress’ TV Production House of the Year.

Judging from its website alone, you’ll know that Revolver is cutting-edge and your commercial will be in great hands, lock, stock and more than two smoking barrels.

In a random survey among top industry creatives and producers, Revolver came on top besting even the bigger and more established guns.

“We started with 6 people sharing a small room as the entire company. It was amazing the scale of projects we were able to accomplish that early on,” said Arby Fil-Tomas, better known as “AF” Benaza, President and CEO of Revolver and one of the most-sought after tv commercial directors in the country today.

Owned by Dondon Monteverde, son of movie mogul Lily Monteverde of Regal Films fame, the award winning production house moved to its own studio after 6 months.

“We have 3 floors now,“ according to Benaza.

On its first AdCong at Subic two years ago, Revolver was nominated as one of the Top Production Houses, placing second after Hit Productions, who’d held the title for many years.

“It was such a surreal moment to see Revolver actually win the No.1 spot this year,” said a proud Benaza.

Benaza was one of the top 10 directors commissioned to work on Nestle's 100 years Short Film Anthology. He did Milo’s “Sali Salita” for which Nestle eventually won as Advertiser of the Year. If you remember a Nescafe tv commercial where a man picks up a rain drop and hands it over to a girl as a necklace gem, Benaza directed that.

At last year’s CamSur Ad Congress, the whole Revolver team had a great feeling they’ll win as Production House of the Year after seeing the company's name flashed on screen almost every category during the Araw Awards night.

They were absolutely right.

“My staff went bananas! Everyone was trembling and shouting. I had to literally push them forward to get to the stage. It was a humbling experience to share that stage with people who worked together to get there,” Benaza said who admitted being an “emotional mess for quite a while” after that night.

Aside from Benaza, Revolver has one of the best ensembles of directors in one house, each with his own sterling credential.

Erik Matti, Joel Limchoc, Treb Monteras, Borgy Torre, Toppel Lee, Jun de Leon and Jerrold Tarog have worked on milestone projects for top agencies and clients who themselves won award after award during the 22nd Ad Cogress.

In just 4 years, the young production house has chalked up a good number of awards an ordinary production house wouldn’t achieve in 15 years. Here are just some of them:

2009 Cannes
Finalist "Life Lottery" Childhope Asia, BBDO
2009 Spikes Asia
Bronze Craft "Goodfight" Pedigree,TBWA
2009 Ad Congress
Best Direction "Away" Manila Design Week,TBWA
Best Editing "The Date" Ad Congress, DDB
Best in Production Design "Away" Manila Design Week, TBWA
2007 Ad Congress
Best Direction "Playtime" Cinemalaya, TBWA
Best Direction "Cutie" Cinema Manila, TBWA
2004 Creative Guild
Ad of the Year "Gwyneth"

2011 Araw Awards
Best Editing "Perfect Breasts" Andok's LItson, Campaigns & Grey
Best Cinematography "Good Fight" Ayala Malls, TBWA
Best Direction "Perfect Breasts"Andok's LItson, Campaigns & Grey
Best Production Design "Good Fight" Ayala Malls, TBWA
Best Direction "Good Fight" Ayala Malls, TBWA
Best Direction " Battle Cry" 22 Phil Ad Congress, Leo Burnett
Best Direction "Action" Pepsi Co, BBDO Guerrero
Best Direction "Building" Saridon, BBDO Guerrero
Best Direction, "Palong" Andok's Litson, Campaigns & Grey
2011 Spikes Asia
"Building" Saridon, BBDO Guerrero

Asked what he and Revolver wish to achieve this year, Benaza pointblankly said:

“Revolver is set to break new grounds in non- trad advertising. As more people have an iphone, ipad, or android device surgically fused to their hands, we want to help clients reach these people with campaigns that don’t just hinge on traditional media.”

Looking forward to the future, and aiming for well-crafted campaigns? Pull the Revolver trigger. It’s your creative powder keg.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Photo: Print ad by DDB Sydney for McDonald's

by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 13, 2011

Even Moses knew exactly how to use the power of print. He wrote the Ten Commandments in stone to make them eternally imprinted in our minds.

No print, no inscription of history. No print, no publishing. No print, no marketing. No print, what is advertising?

Early human beings used symbols and carved their own alphabets in caves to communicate.

In ancient times, Filipinos printed a rich tale of culture on bamboos, leaves and bark of trees. With the invention of printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, lithography, rotogravure, offset and other forms of printing, advertising exploded.

And we thought print advertising would fade away when digital age beckoned. No. As new media and technology appeared and permutated in different exciting forms, print still lorded it over. And how.

“Print advertising is still king even when online version of newspapers made us new-media savvy,” a top advertising media director said.

“While some newspapers’ circulation declined, new media offered advertisers a wider avenue for their products to be seen,” he said.

“If you missed the hardcopy, you can see the online version anywhere you go where there is wifi and on smartphones,” he emphasized.

Imagine a book without words, a newspaper without typography, a resto without photographs on the menu, a website without softwares, a virtual page without links for us to browse and navigate on.

Imagine a world without the basics: pen and ink. Picture a billboard with nothing but a blank frame. Imagine if Rizal had not written his “Noli” and “Fili” manuscripts.

What good are androids and other sophisticated communication gadgets if we’re unable to read messages that give us information and brainpower?

Without print, life has no news, a brand is without identity and advertising is like a man without arms and two legs.

How far has print advertising taken us with the changing times? Let’s take a brief refresher course.

For the benefit of marketing freshmen, multi-media advertising and communication arts students, Business Friday gives you a little background on this most effective marketing tool – what it is and how it is created.


A print ad is a piece of advertising you see in a newspaper or magazine.

It is a primary medium (above-the-line) and has several sub-categories (below-the-line): Out-of-home (billboard, transit ads, ambient, etc), merchandising collaterals (brochures, leaflets, menus, annual reports, direct marketing, etc.)

Print ads come in different sizes: from small (one column (width) by “x” number of centimeters (height) to 9 columns by 53 centimeters – the full-page of a standard newspaper).

All of them have one goal -- sell a product, a service, or a brand.

The two main elements of a print ad are: Copy, the words you see, created by the copywriter, author of idea and messages in the ad, and Visuals (photographs, graphic designs or illustrations) laid out by the art director, the visual specialist who makes sure the ad is appealing to viewers.

The physical make-up of a standard print ad has:

Lead-in - a teaser that introduces the main message to create excitement, usually found on top of the ad.

Headline - the strongest element in the ad, always written in big, bold fonts like in newspapers, provocative, compelling, intriguing and attention getting.

Subhead – reinforces the main message, usually contains the reasons-to-believe for your consumer promise, slightly smaller than the headline.

Body - the whole informative content that carries all details about the product. It can be a one line or just a paragraph.

Tagline - a well-crafted catchphrase or slogan that encapsulizes either the following: brand persona, what the product promises to deliver, a distinct point of difference written in a few, memorable words.

Slogans are not cast in stone. Top brands change their slogans all the time. There are good and great slogans. The great ones can stand alone without qualifiers or visuals.

There are no hard and fast rules in doing a print ad, unless they offend. “Rules are what the creative mind or artist breaks,” so goes the Bernbach saying.

A print ad can sometimes have no need for words or pictures. A powerful photo can be a ‘headline’, and deliver the message without words, in the same manner as a picture can speak a thousand words.

An ad can be all-copy, with nary an image. It can be a great ad if the message breaks an existing belief and delivers a new truth or insight so overpowering it changes perceptions.


It goes without saying that a great headline deserves an equally great picture. One less, the other is a letdown.

Want a bigger impact? Use a picture that defies the ordinary. A visual that portrays what the headline is already saying is literally boring. One that strengthens the idea is remembered for a longer time.

Partner with a great art director who has ‘eye’ for excellent photography, illustration, graphics and appropriate typestyle.

The look of your ad tells people who you are and the kind of product you are advertising. Badly crafted ads give impression of low quality.

See the value of white space.

Many advertisers do not see this. Filling every available space in the ad can spell the difference between crass and good taste.

Just because you paid for that media space doesn’t mean every periphery of the ad must have your footprint. Know that the eye doesn’t want to look at clutter. An ‘overcrowded’ ad suffocates your reader.

Believe that size doesn’t matter. A sloppy, unoriginal big ad with nothing relevant to say is a bigger waste of client’s money down the drain.

Definitely know that the win-win situation is: Big Idea plus Big Media frequency, (and big size if you can afford it) can never go wrong.

Lastly, remember another Bernbach line: “One great print ad can do the power of ten.”

Thursday, January 5, 2012


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 6, 2012

Which ad agency led in new business acquisitions and revenues towards the end of 2011?

R3, a global consultancy on marketing efficiency and effectiveness, released its 11th month report for year 2011 and showed DDB on top of the list with a 2.59 Million USDollar gain, roughly P114 million pesos for November alone.

R3 does independent research on media auditing and marketing impacts focusing on insights and analysis.

It is Asia’s largest marketing consultancy, which merged with Grupo Consultores, Europe’s biggest, in 2004.

R3’s CBL (Creative New Business League) for the Philippines also showed DDB ranking number 1 last October in terms of new business, reporting it acquired Barrio Fiesta, Huawei Technologies and Armscor.

R3 Consultancy tallies a monthly report on Philippine ad agencies’ new biz wins, as well as in other countries in Asia-Pacific, lists blue chip accounts worldwide as among its clients: Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Singapore Airlines, Microsoft, SingTel, Visa among others.

“We are thankful for this exciting development, more so with the continued trust and confidence of our growing number of clients, said ” Gil G. Chua, Group Chairman of DDB Group.

“We expect to remain on top even when the full 12-month tally for 2011 is completed”, said Ma. Teresa Almazora, agency’s Corporate Communications Director.

“The volume would come from other surprise packages that greeted us towards the end of the year,” she said.

With the R3 Report, Almazora said: “The agency expects a high percentage growth increase, much higher than the one the agency registered in the last three years.”

Over the last 10 years, the agency has handled Smart Telecom and PepsiCo, counting Petron, Unilab, East-West Bank and Meralco as one of its most recent clients.

OMD (Omnicom Media) also part of Omnicom Holdings to which DDB belongs, also topped the list in Media New Business League for November, hitting 1.51 USD for the same period. Touch DDB, however, is DDB Group’s media agency in the Philippines.

OMD has over 8,000 employees in more than 100 markets across every region in the world, uniquely positioned to provide market-leading service to clients locally, regionally and globally. It has garnered Campaign Asia’s Media Network of the Year awards many times over.

R3’s methodology for NBL (New Business League) is a compilation of the most recent data supplied by 26 multinational ad agencies on a monthly basis.

The report is balanced against client estimates, Nielsen ADEX (advertising expenditure), discounted to appropriate levels and then converted to revenue estimates.

DDB Philippines is part of the DDB Worldwide Group, one of the world’s most creative and effective ad agency networks under Omnicom Holdings Company, which also groups two other iconic agencies: BBDO and TBWA.

Headed by Gil G. Chua, Group Chairman and CEO of DDB Group Philippines, the former AMA agency has been on the winning binge, figuring in the industry’s new business pitches radar and holding its own against the big guns in last year’s 4A’s Agency of the Year Awards and Philippine National Advertising Congress “Araw Awards”.