Friday, March 30, 2012


By Roger Pe

In the deep, inner sanctum of the metropolis, one cannot escape three things: wide and narrow streets flooded with people, smog that competes with the blaring noise of maddening traffic, mirage of colors exploding from billboards of varying sizes.

Much had been said about congested cities and traffic bedlam, let’s talk about the last one.

Welcome to Tarpaulin City, or so it seems. Stop, look and listen to the products they are selling. Notice the way they’re mounted from one block to the other. Is anyone minding the zoning plan?

Not only are they slowly strangling every block of the city, they’re beginning to cause some people migraine.

When advertisers mistake billboards as leaflets or flyers, the headache intensifies, you’ll probably need acupuncture or a dose of ibuprofen.

Some billboards could really fall down from the weight of elements in their advertising. It’s common to see stuff that look so obese with a hodgepodge of fonts, buffet of photos, vignettes, bunch of copy thrown in between, sandwiched with subheads, blurbs, a whole cacophony of violators, taglines, all flying all over you could get crushed down to pieces.

Some billboards don’t know the definition of tact. Some simply haven’t learned to moderate their messages to single-mindedness.

Some have turned the medium into a smorgasbord of words and orgy of pictures. A firing line of logos is daily fare. In instances, boom, accident on the road.

As a medium, billboard has been with us since time immemorial. As years went by and technology improved, varying degrees of sophistication developed - from handpainted to digital to 3D to creative, witty, funny, compelling (or otherwise) executions.

Effective out-of-home medium and maximized to the hilt by many marketers, billboards have made many brands’ cash registers continuously ringing.

But when the contents defy the senses of propriety, we are, indeed, being choked.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


The commercial opens with a Malacanang state dinner for US President Barack Obama.

“Thank you, that was a lovely dinner,” ‘Obama’ says in his opening line.

“Oh, we’re not done yet. Try our kare-kare, it’s oks!,” says impersonator Rene Pacunla, popularly known as “Ate Glow”, as he gamely portrays former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

And for dessert, “Ginataang mais … it’s corn, but we use our coconut,” she says, pointing to her head.

Bummer, Obama suffers indigestion and ruins his foray into Pinoy cuisine.

“Impatso, ‘yan noh!,” Ate Glow says, mimicking even the former president’s Pampanga accent.

She rushes towards Barack in a way that makes the scene even funnier: like she has trolleys under her feet.

“Ang Motilium! Dyspepsia will disappear in 30 minutes, noh!,” she yells.

Cut to happy ending. With a glowing smile, Ate Glow offers Obama a cup of Batangas coffee and delivers the punchline: “Kape, Barak?”

The script is peppered with double entendre: oks (ox), coconut (head), Barack (barako).

Great copy, irreverent and funny, this is perhaps the funniest Filipino tv commercial done over the last three years.

The team of TBWA Santiago, Mangada and Puno went as far as overseas to find the perfect guy to play the role of the American president.

34-year-old Indonesian photographer Ilham Anas, a dead ringer for Obama, was discovered by the ad agency for the role directed by filmmaker Eric Matti.

It is not easy to become talk-of-the-town but the tv spot became a massive hit after a few weeks of airing.

Who has ever heard of Motilium before? Word-of-mouth fanned the buzz the commercial generated, brand awareness increased. The spot went viral and won major ad industry awards.

Joy Ultra Dishwashing Liquid is market leader not without Campaigns and Grey’s sustained campaign using humor on radio.

In 2009 Araw Awards, the agency created the Philippines’ most awarded radio ads.
All of them used humor.

“Amoy” and “Grasa” won Golds for Best Radio Copy and Silver for Best Radio Ad. Both ads also bagged silver in 2010 Kidlat Awards (Best Radio Ad category).

Back in 2005 Ad Congress, Campaign’s humorous radio commercials: "Chugs", "Haller", "Tagalog" and "Manash" each won a gold for Ligo and helped the brand win the “Advertiser of the Year” award.

The agency’s funny radio ads for AMA Computer College also won golds, making Campaigns’s amazing comeback to the winning-agency circle complete.

Humor has been Campaign’s creative bailiwick and since then, the agency’s unstoppable.

BBDO-Guerrero’s comedy-drama for Bayan DSL “iWant TV” gave it top-of-mind awareness and recall after parodying a famous Sharon Cuneta-Cherie Gil confrontation from a hit Tagalog movie.

In her supposed-to-be debut, Lola Techie gives party gatecrasher Gil a scathing tongue whacking after the latter accuses her as lover-snatcher.

She fires back: “How dare you, din po!” then unleashes Gil’s famous venom: “You-are-nothing-but-a-second-rate, trying-hard-copycat!”

Seething with anger, Gil throws in the magic word: “Copycat!”

In the US, who could ever forget the long-running “Real Men of Genius” radio campaign made by DDB Chicago for Bud Light?

Client Anheuser-Busch previously had second thoughts about the ads irreverent style but subsequent consumer testings proved it wrong. The rest is history.

The Bud Light series, conceived by copywriter Bob Winter in 1998, now counts to almost 200, a prolific harvest that also included an incredible number of Gold Lions, including the Grand Prix for Radio in Cannes and Clio.

As of late 2010, American Comedy Network was producing parodies of the ads originally conceptualized as a “tribute to men in overlooked professions with humorous or eccentric habits.”

Is humor good or bad for a brand? Let’s hear what people say:

“Humor in advertising is actually tough. It may be funny to some but corny, even slapstick to others,” says a communication arts professor.

“Humor is like charm in people. We are drawn to people who make us laugh. We are charmed by those who have sense of humor,” says copywriter Raymund Sison of BBDO-Guerrero.

Sison, who wrote award-winning Joy radio ads for Campaigns, says: “You need to make people laugh if you want their eyes and ears, including their hearts.”

For some clients, humor can create immediate recall but not exactly purchases.

“It can make you laugh all the way to the awards show but not necessarily to the bank,” says a marketing director.

“Variety is key to a successful humorous campaign,” says Marl Levitt in his funny, wacky “Comedy Writer For Hire” website.

“Once an ad wears out there's no saving it. Humorous campaigns are often expensive because they have to be constantly changed,” he says.

Levitt stresses a good point in saying - a commercial may leave one person rolling on the floor with laughter but it may also leave a “bad taste” in another’s mouth.

Some Pinoy ads love to poke fun at people with self-deprecating humor. Done in good taste, they can be funny and entertaining.

Want to try humor? Here are a few tips from Levitt:

Seriously think if it’s appropriate to both product and people you are targeting. Remember that the balance between funny and annoying can be delicate. Ask if it’s going to be relevant to the product.

So does humor sell? Of course, yes.
Yes, when it attracts, not distracts.

While purist marketers say our business is to sell and not patronize ‘clowns’, people don't buy ‘sour’, unsmiling and grouchy’ brands either.

Wouldn't we rather buy a brand that is charming, forever smiling – and one that makes us laugh?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


You probably know why you want to own a Giorgio Armani. Photographer Jerry Avenaim did a great job talking to your senses.

Millions of consumers around the world love Nike advertising. Bold, impactful, gutsy. The brand uses photography as a convincing weapon to make you buy.

Famous photographer Annie Leibovitz shot for Nike, good reason why more and more women around the world are joining the running bandwagon.

Some of the world’s best photographers like Howard Ruby, Florian Schulz, Jeffrey Vanhoutte, Brian Smith, among others have helped sell millions of dollars worth of brands.

Photography can make or break an ad or any medium that utilizes it.

The image you see on a piece of advertising is the single most important element.

An image is usually a photograph used to sell a product.

An ad can sometimes be an all-photo campaign. It can sell a brand by itself, even without words.

Selling lifestyle, food, fashion or a destination? Never overlook photography. It matters deeply.

And if you can push it beyond the ordinary, you’re in for some big surprise.

You can judge a good and bad agency by the quality of photography it keeps.

The best ad agencies invest much time and money on photography and overall look of their ads. How their campaigns look like in public is a matter of serious concern for them.

What good is an ad if it has great copy but bad photography?

“Copywriters may spend hours crafting a compelling, mindset-changing headline, but it’s the image that first attracts the viewer,” says an award-winning Art Director.

When you have great copy supported by a great image, it’s precedent setting. It’s creating a standard and raising the bar.

A creative ad cannot have bad photography. A campaign cannot be as effective if it used images with sloppy lighting, no depth of field, bland contrast, and no effort done to enhance their raw beauty.

As you turn to the next page of a newspaper, which element of an ad do you remember? The image.

Through the years, technology has helped produce cutting edge photography via use of digital imaging, photoshop (within the bounds of reality), computer manipulation, color calibrating and other experimental tweakings.

Needless to say, the marriage of art and technology in photography has made brand selling more exciting.

But it is also making local photographers anxious.


With the continued marginalization of some sectors in the ad industry, how are local photographers, previously making a killing in the lucrative business doing?

“Bad”, says a veteran photographer, once most sought-after for his product and talent shots.

“We may run out of jobs soon and become endangered species,” says another.

In today’s frenetic scene, where some ad agencies have little time to do production preparations and extra budget to spare, stock photo companies rule.

But what if they don’t? They rely on images on the Internet with royalty-free usage, others crawl the net for copyright-free photos.

Forced by the current market squeeze, some photographers cannot help but lower their fees and adjust to budgets that come their way, making lesser-known photographers barely eke out a living.

Asked on how local photographers are surviving with the proliferation of stock photo providers, Myrvee Ortega, McCann WorldGroup Philippines’ Production Traffic Manager say:
“The expansion of many image companies, (like Getty, which recently bought Photolibrary) does not exactly pose a threat to local photographers. It actually challenges them to be more creative. They are measures that can help them survive the business,” she says.

Ortega says, “being creative” means enriching their crafts, upgrade their skills and get familiar with the latest trends in photography.”

While stock photo companies are on the rise, 100% of local ad agencies still use creative local photographers because of stock photo cost concerns,” Ortega says.

In Manila, the top 5 photographers mostly used by agencies are Marc Nicdao, Jay Tablante, Xander Angeles, Adphoto (John Chua or Gnie Arambulo), Jake Versoza, Francis Abraham and Raul Montifar.

To cut on production costs, some ad agencies develop their in-house photographers. For simple shoots, their own Art Directors do the work.

Jeff Dytuco, former AVP for client services of a multinational ad agency, is one of the many advertising people who had ventured far, joining established camera clubs to promote the art of photography and imaging.

He himself was elected President of Zone Five Camera Club, one of the Philippines’ most prestigious and oldest independent clubs of photographers from various professions, all united with the ideal of building on their passion for photography as an art form.

The club was inspired by famous photographer Ansel Adams’ classic zoning exposure system that formed the basis of exposure degrees or zones used in classic photography.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


By Roger Pe

It is a communicator’s market. The opportunities are aplenty. Go for it.

Whether you want to be a tv news anchorperson, talk show host, public relations officer, publications editor, marketing communications manager, director of corporate communications, creative director, copywriter, film director, journalist, scriptwriter, reporter or just a plain entertainer, pursue it. The future is bright.

Brighter if you got what it takes: love for the languages the world speaks, extraordinary knack for original creation, invention, discovery, an amazing personality and ability to express words entertainingly, written or verbally.

Brightest if your passion never dips below zero, a dose of luck is on your side, and it is written – you’re destined to make it.

Last month, around three hundred broadcast communications students from University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications listened to communications specialists, all successful in their chosen fields, talk about pursuing a career in communications.

Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and graduating students attended the event.

The career talk symposium entitled “Track and Field” was launched by UP Broadcasting Association to celebrate its 43rd year of “Passion, Glory and Excellence.”

Through the college’s broadcast department, which has produced some of the country’s best and most illustrious names in media and advertising, the organization amplified the importance of conducting an event that would inform students of the countless opportunities available for them outside the academe.

“We wanted an event that will provide inspiration to our fellow students and help them decide the academic track that best suits their potentials,” said Irene Pavia, Marketing Officer of UPBA and Angela Garzon, Project Head.

Award-winning journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, well-known film director Mario de los Reyes and this author, addressed the jampacked Media Studio of UPCMC.

Ressa, former Jakarta bureau chief of CNN and head of ABS-CBN’s news and current affairs unit, speaks about “The Courage To Do What Is Right.”

In a world where doing the wrong thing seems to be the only way to get ahead, Ressa told students: “You have to find the courage to say No.”

“Corrupt people don’t think they’re corrupt. Evil people don’t think they’re evil,” she said.

She quotes some powerful lines from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, how little things make a difference like drawing a line in the sand and not crossing it.

Ressa’s insightful lectures resonates across the auditorium: “The more you say no, the easier it becomes. The more you do the right thing, the harder it is to do the wrong thing.”

She takes a snipe at journalists who accept bribes and whose excuses are very familiar: “Everyone is doing it.” “I’d be stupid if I didn’t take it.” “The budget is there anyway.” “I don’t have to do what they want anyway.”

De los Reyes, who directed many gems of Philippine cinema like “Annie Batungbakal”, “High School Circa 65” “Bagets” “Gabun” and the internationally acclaimed “Magnifico”, advises students to go and chase for their dreams.

“Dreams are never impossible to reach. Just do what you need to do: focus and you’ll be closer to reaching them,” he said.

The veteran director whose film “Magnifico” many cineastes said could have done well in previous Oscar Best Foreign film competition, says: “Never beat around the bush, know what you want.”

“Magnifico” won many local awards, including a Best Director grandslam for the UP Masscom alumnus. Last year, noted film critics picked it as one of the countries’10 Best Films of the Decade.

In the international scene, “Magnifico” and De los Reyes brought honors to the Philippines. The film and its director won top prizes in Berlin, Hawaii and the Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) international festivals.

For those who are leaning towards a career in advertising, this author reminded them not to be afraid of failures nor be bullied by them. “Fail the failure. Failure is just a word,” he said.

While it is cool, fun, glamorous to be in advertising, it requires a lot of hardwork, patience, flair, emotional investments, long hours and talent.

“If you don’t quit, it is satisfying, flattering and you may even get revered like rock stars as in Brazil,” he added.

The crowd was treated to a couple of entertaining tv commercials and print campaigns done by the author locally, as well as during his stint as expat in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Future generation of Filipino media men and advertising practitioners also got a glimpse of the advertising process and how it operates.

After the three spoke, a question-and-answer forum followed. A student stood up and asked: why do Filipinos go abroad to work and what can we learn from foreign commercials?

“Filipino talents are in-demand abroad. We learn from other cultures, they learn from us. As the whole world gets smaller and smaller because of media communications that’s gone totally digital, we need an amalgam of cultures to benchmark ourselves without losing our uniqueness.”

A former broadcaster, who now shares his vast knowledge gained from years of experience, makes an interesting insight:

“At the end of it all, we all learn that it is not important what degree we have.
Though most employees would be happy to ask for an English major for publications and broadcast media, it is the content that matters most,” he said.

Many successful Filipinos in communications did internships without pay or for a pitiful amount. They stuck, around until they got noticed and eventually rose to where they are now.

Are you a student who is seriously considering a career in communications? Take the following advice from Ressa:

“Be excellent at what you do. Be self-aware. Take responsibility for what you say and what you do. Find your allies. You’ll need help.”

“Track and Field” or TnF was organized by the UP Broadcasting Association (UP BroadAss, one of the student organizations in College of Mass Communication.
The key people who spearheaded the event were: UP Broad Ass (Assers): Eujean Angela Garzon, Organizing Committee head; Frances Nicole Pua, President
CMC Student Council; Emmanuel Manoguid- Broadcast Communication (BC) Representative,BC Department; Rose Tapang-Feliciano, Department Chair and
Daphne Tatiana Tolentino-Canlas, UP Broad Ass adviser.