Thursday, April 26, 2012


What is the most spectacular and crowd-drawing billboard you’ve ever seen?

Nine years ago, TBWA Japan made the world talking about two billboards in prime locations of Tokyo and Osaka.

In Tokyo’s Shibuya district, the world’s busiest pedestrian-intersection and Osaka city’s urban center, the billboards were mounted on top of a ten-story high building with a simple 4-element layout: The brand’s logo (not even humongously screaming), campaign tagline, simulated football field and just the color it has always been known for: Blue.

What’s so special about the stunt? Stunning.

Where advertisers used mannequins before, Adidas elevated two human soccer players and suspended them vertically from a 26-foot bungee rope.

They swung back and forth like spidermen, kicking a soccer ball hanging between them. Japanese passers-by went wild.

At a 90-degree angle vertical soccer field, the football players displayed their wares in 10-to-15-minute interval matches, spread from 1 pm, 2 pm, 4pm, 5pm and 6pm.

Having created an extreme billboard medium, Adidas even went a step wilder onto the next: staged another death-defying series: Vertical sprint, prelude to launching the “Impossible is Nothing” campaign.

Adidas reinvented outdoor-advertising, static advertising suddenly became sedate, the medium zoomed up to new heights, literally raising the ante and creating the most effective and wildly acclaimed outdoor bang of the decade.

It cleaned up every award in major competitions, in Cannes, One Show and Clio, enroute to becoming the winningest billboard advertising in history.

McCann Worldwide Manila’s “Living Billboard” for Coca-Cola recently made it to AdAge and other global trade sites. Before reaching Guadalupe, northbound commuters passing through the city’s Edsa must have seen this 60 x 60 foot billboard made of real Fukien tea plants around the iconic Coke bottle.

If they were ordinary plants, they wouldn’t be such a big deal but they were carbon-dioxide-eating plants and they carpeted the whole frame. Pots made from recycled bottles contained 3,600 small-growth trees, thriving from a mixture of organic fertilizers. They were meant to absorb a total of 46,800 pounds of air pollutants from the atmosphere during its entire exposure.


In 2007, Leo Burnett Chicago also made a similar outdoor stunt for its client McDonald’s when the latter introduced “Fresh Salad” on its menu. The fastfood’s ad agency team worked closely with a horticulturist to create a billboard that would dramatize the idea of freshness.

The ‘growing’ billboard started with 1½-inch lettuce sprouts, which then grew into lush leaves. The ‘billboard garden’ was even safe from being plucked by birds because there was no place for them to perch.

Expectedly, the campaign created much word-of-mouth buzz among target consumers, and all the way to Cannes and Clio, harvesting awards one after the other.

Ogilvy Manila has made a number of cut-through billboards for Unilever over the last few years. Utilizing the medium’s function to the hilt, the agency has always made Ponds enjoy top of mind awareness among target users.

You must have seen a woman actually using the billboard’s tarpaulin to hide her pimply face. What about a “die-cut” billboard shaped like a skin pore with a man holding a giant scrub to clean the entire surface? Did you see that girl with a ‘red dot’ on her cheek, (actually, a siren lighting up) for pimple alarm?

There are many other ‘odd’ billboards around. However unusual they may be, they got huge talk-value mileage, eventually translating into sales.

Has anyone seen a transparent billboard, like the one pulled off successfully in South Korea? It could pause some danger though, if not executed with safety measures.

Years back, a “Light Bulb” billboard ignited talk-of-the-town sensation for The Economist. The Ogilvy Singapore team designed it with a motion sensor, lighting up the bulb every time a passerby walked directly below it.

What about God’s Billboard quotes? “Bring your umbrella, I might water the plants today.” Signed God, one series says. In 2002, Love Singapore Movement tasked its agency to create a new image for God – “someone with a sense of humor, someone who talks to people in his own way, with wit, irony, humor,” said Eugene Chong, creator of the award-winning campaign.

Some examples of the billboard messages were: “What do I have to do to get your attention? Take an ad out in the paper?” God “I hate rules. That’s why I only made ten of them.” God “Please don’t drink and drive. You’re not quite ready to meet me yet.” God


While there are exceptional billboards around, a lot are also choking our metropolis, causing people migraine, even provoking consumer groups and vanguards of morality. Manila once woke up seeing a liquor billboard that enraged religious and women’s grops, prompting Adboard to step into the picture.

An apparel company was asked to pull down all its billboards near Guadalupe Bridge for showing men in bikini briefs with bulging crotches.

Billboards must deliver their messages in split seconds. The simpler they get, the easier the messages could be recalled. But when advertisers mistake them as leaflets or flyers, the headache intensifies.

Some billboards could really fall down from the weight of elements in their advertising. It’s common to spot a billboard with a hodgepodge of fonts, buffet of photos, bunch of copy sandwiched in between. You see them flying all over the layout they could crash down even without typhoons.

Some simply haven’t learned how to moderate messages to single-mindedness, turning the medium into a smorgasbord of words and pictures.
Very effective in making high recall and brand awareness, billboards have made millions worth of sales. Created with tact and done beyond the usual, they could be advertisers’ best brand selling medium.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Martin Scorsese directed hugely acclaimed films like “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull”, “Good Fellas”, “The Departed”, “Shutter Island”, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and this year’s Oscar nominated “Hugo”.

Erykah Badu is known for her cerebral music style. Oftentimes, she is called the "Queen of Neo-Soul" music.

Manny Pacquiao is, who doesn’t know him?

All three global icons star in Hennessy’s “What’s Your Wild Rabbit?” ad campaign, the brand’s return to tv advertising after a 5-year hiatus.

Launched last month, it is the largest marketing investment by the world’s number one cognac brand in its 247-year history.

According to folklore, rabbits run wild in the French Cognac region. Though the animals are rarely seen, stories have been told that they drive people to chase for success.

Chasing a wild rabbit is about pursuing your dreams, never tiring no matter what the difficulties are, never giving up even when the doors have been seemingly shut and life has almost knocked you down completely.

Many stories had been told about Manny Pacquiao’s humble beginnings, a harsh life of debilitating poverty after his father left his mother for another woman.

Life as a construction worker, janitor, cigarette vendor, bakery helper, bread peddler, he did many other menial odd jobs to keep body and soul together.

He ended up in the boxing ring, brutally maiming his opponents at every mandatory countdown. A devastating knock out during his early boxing career almost exterminated the Manny Pacquiao we see today.

But life has a way of rewarding back those who keep on walking, err, running.

Directed by Johnny Green, the Manny Pacquiao part is about his wild rabbit chase, condensed into a gut wrenching 90-second spot, of grit, determination and something to mull over long after the last boxing bell had fell into deafening silence.

It is not by luck, nor by any chance that the new Pacquiao commercial came out as an inspiring advertising.

No less than David Droga, founding chairman of Droga5, last year’s Cannes Lion Outdoor Grand Prix winner and past competition head of jury handled it. Together with his equally stellar Executive Creative Director Ted Royer, he made sure it would be.

Both Droga and Royer were frequent Manila visitors during the mid-90s as part of their regional roles, overseeing Asian Saatchi and Saatchi agencies’ creative output.


The ad begins with a dramatic close up shot of young Pacquiao (great casting) in an outdoor setting.

Cutting interspersely between a wild marsh and lahar desert, the opening scene establishes him as a metaphoric hunter, running after the proverbial wild rabbit.

A rabbit in a tropical country like ours? Don’t blink you might catch it, but it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not, the chase is symbolic enough.

The juxtaposition of scenes into Pacquiao’s frenetic training is beautifully executed. The camera chases him, too, as he pounds a desolate road on daybreak.

Chronicling his difficult life in GenSan seems accurate, the local color is authentic, and the writers, indeed must have done good research.

The trophies sitting on a wooden shelf under a roof of a shoebox house evoke so much pathos.

The foreboding flock of sparrows roosting for the night, darkening the skies is a cinematic gem.

“It’s almost too beautiful to be considered “advertising” says, Fil-Am creative director Joel Villaflor on his Facebook wall.

The wanabe-Pacquiaos queueing in a local boxing gym, inspired by Pacquiao’s life story are beyond words.

Seeing the Manila MRT line captured in Hollywood filmic-quality makes you smile.

The cut-to-cut of pinoys from all walks of life, cheering from an over populated alley, a jampacked cockpit, a billiard hall … to millions of homes across the nation tells you something: we’re a one big united country without a doubt.


Pacman, the raging bull trains like mad. The knock out machine is power-packed solid at the punching bag, punch-for-punch, blow-by-blow, hard hitting to the core.

Soon, he is ready to rumble. We are transported to Las Vegas’ Madison Square Garden as the world watches. We get a glimpse of Pacman as a human being, fervently praying by a small corner.

Pacquiao wins his 10th world title in 8 different weight classes. As he raises both hands, the ad cuts back to his long and lonely journey in slowmo, making the moment an emotional powder keg. Certainly, director Green knows how to squeeze more tears from the audience.

“Fighting the fights that really matter. That’s my wild rabbit,” Pacquiao says, as he peers from a window of his palatial home.

You’d want to see the ad over and over again, whether you’d been battered by life or born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or simply love a great inspiring ad.


David Droga is listed as one of advertising’s “Ad Geniuses” who began winning Cannes Lions at age 22.

He led Saatchi & Saatchi’s Asia operation, based in Singapore and made the agency the best in the world in 1999.

He was ECD of Saatchi London when the agency was named "Global Agency of the Year" in Cannes in 2002. Promoted as Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of the whole Publicis group, he has won more than 50 Cannes Lions, over 20 One Show and 7 D&AD Pencils.

He established Droga5, an avant-garde, independent ad agency network in New York and Sydney in 2006.