Thursday, August 30, 2012


By Roger Pe

If you know an excellent sushi you must know this network.

If you know Toyota, Sony, Honda and other top Japanese brands, you must know Dentsu.

Not many people know, this Japanese ad conglomerate is one of the world’s largest. So big in fact, it can give the big guns, McCann, BBDO, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy and the rest a run for their money.

Just a little bit of introduction:

Dentsu is the fifth biggest advertising agency network in the world, a 110-year old iconic brand in Japan counting Toyota, Nintendo, Panasonic, Ajinomoto, among others as one of its 6,000 global clients.

For two consecutive years, (2011 and 2012) Dentsu was named Agency of the Year in Cannes of Asia, Asia Adfest, where Philippine ad agencies consistently send entries.

After 50 years of trying, Dentsu is making waves in the US. Under Tim Andree, Dentsu McGarry Bowen recently was named Ad Age’s Agency of the Year twice in three years.

The agency is on globalization frenzy and has started creating an advertising empire, stretching across the world’s five continents: the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania, all the way to North Africa with over 100 offices scattered all over.

As the industry focuses on the big boys, Dentsu is building a new organization – the “Dentsu Network” to hasten its spread across the globe.

Today, Dentsu has established an enviable reputation - one of the most innovative communications companies with a staff of 20,000 worldwide and is recognized as the world’s biggest sports marketing company.


Need to breakdown constraints to find the best solutions for your clients’ marketing problems?

Tired of solutions that didn’t work? Following the “Dentsu Way” might give you the upperhand.

From product development to product launch, Dentsu practices “yuzu mage,” meaning flexibility and freedom.

The everyday practice is a corporate culture at Dentsu, the cornerstone of its uniqueness as an agency, all contained in a book called "The Dentsu Way,” published by the company.

“We have a guiding principle in managing our business that’s been good to us over the last 10 years in the Philippines,“ says Nonna Nanagas, the bubbly President and CEO of Dentsu Philippines in her posh address in The Enterprise Ayala.

An industry veteran, Nanagas earned her brilliant stars and stripes from many years of experience handling a number of local and multinational brands.

She is proud of her agency that’s been running against American and British-owned networks with aplomb.

“We are a low-key ad agency but at the end of the day, it’s about the agency and the brand,” she says.

Well-said. In these difficult times, Dentsu flies high with a solid report card handling 80% percent of Toyota’s advertising business in the Philippines, aside from consistently making double-digit growth and a good measure of non-Japanese accounts.

What makes “The Dentsu Way” a bright path to take? These teachings bring them great results:

1. Initiate projects on your own instead of waiting for work to be assigned.
2. Take an active role in all your endeavors, not a passive one.
3. Search for large and complex challenges.
4. Welcome difficult assignments. Progress lies in accomplishing difficult work.
5. Once you begin a task, complete it. Never give up.
6. Lead and set an example for your fellow workers.
7. Set goals for to ensure a constant sense of purpose.
8. Move with confidence, it gives your work force and substance.
9. At all times, challenge yourself to think creatively and find new solutions.
10. When confrontation is necessary, don’t shy away from it. Confrontation is often necessary to achieve progress.

Nanagas started as copywriter at the formerly dominant AMA (Advertising and Marketing Associates) after becoming a sterling PANA (Philippine Association of National Advertisers) scholar.

She was mentored by Philippine advertising greats: the late Antonio de Joya, Greg Macabenta, Louie Morales, Tony Gloria and Nita Claravall, becoming what she is now: creative and operations- savvy.

Hardwork is a class act for Nanagas who also speaks it. That perhaps explains her longevity in the industry.

“I learned the discipline of hardwork from my mentors,” she mentions with a low-key voice but bursts into a hearty laughter in between the interview seeing how the industry continuously evolves.

Nanagas is a mentoring President in and out of Dentsu, with an innate desire to give something back. You may find her in Ateneo teaching on a weekend if her Dentsu schedules allow her.

She never forgets to tell her students and staff that: “In this business, everything must be anchored on consumer insight. Creators of advertising must see how consumers behave, probe on their attitudes, and everything around them to be able to do effective advertising.”

She stresses that advertising isn’t one’s “kathang isip” (imagined things) and that agencies should make an impactful difference on their clients’ bottom lines to become real partners.

And how is Nanagas as a Dentsu leader?

“She is a people-oriented person and you can easily feel it the moment you’re introduced. Even in the 4A’s (Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines) where she was president, Nanagas is always candid and pleasantly approachable to many,” confides an industry colleague.

Beyond the pleasantness, is a businesswoman with depth and whose focus is only on Dentsu and not on which agency is doing what.

She has eyes only for delivering income to the agency, empowering, giving opportunities and growth for others. “You cannot perpetuate yourself,” she says.

In the Philippines, Dentsu is a dynamic advertising agency with a 45-staff, providing value-added service to clients.

“We provide service the Dentsu way but we are not subservient,” she says.

Last June, the Dentsu network won Cannes’s most prestigious Lion, the Titanium and 4 Gold Lions. It also bagged Cannes’ Media Agency of the Year in 2009 and Asia Adfest Interactive Agency of the Year for two consecutive years (2009 and 2010).

For the first time also in the history of the Campaign Brief Asia Creative Rankings, a Japanese agency landed at the top in the 2009 - Dentsu Tokyo became the most awarded agency in Asia, and Campaign Brief Asia's Regional Agency of the Year.

With thousands of clients all over the world going “The Dentsu Way,” wouldn’t you also follow the line?

Thursday, August 16, 2012


In today’s marketing war, where so many events have obliterated the advertising landscape, agencies must always be on the lookout. If you don’t move, you die and if you deliver late, you are in trouble.

That’s as far as Tony Harris, British Chief Executive of BBDO-Guerrero is concerned.

On his second year as David Guerrero’s partner in running the Philippines’ most internationally awarded ad agency, Harris acts not like a CEO but always as a consumer.

“I am a consumer, first and foremost,” he says. “When you are a consumer, you are able to make insightful creative solutions for clients, not just offer a report,” he says with a tone speaking from twelve and a half years of experience working in UK’s tough ad agencies.

“Knowing how the consumer behaves gives you the edge. You get to know other brands, too, and you can talk about every category and the whole industry,” he says.

Harris was RKCR/Y&R (Rainey, Kelly, Campbell and Roalfe/Young & Rubicam) London Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chairman prior to his Manila post.

He was part of the team that helped the agency become UK’s highest-ranking creative agency (Gunn Report) and won a number of Cannes Gold Lions during his tenure.

It is but no surpise the prestigious Campaign Magazine voted him as one of London’s Top 10 accounts men over the same period.

Harris joined Publicis as a trainee right after graduating from Lincoln College in Oxford.

Ripened by time, he became an Account Director at BMP DDB, one of London’s most creative agencies, handling Sony and FIFA, eventually being promoted to the board in 1995.

A lightning 72-hour visit to Manila last year made him decide to try something new: he joined BBDO-Guerrero as Chief Executive in July 2011.

“David Guerrero was interested because I was interested,” he beams with pride as he recalls his first trip to the Philippines.

Since then, the agency has never let up its winning ways, churning out award-winning campaigns one after the other and bagging important new business wins.


Over the last decade, BBDO-Guerrero has never relinquished its position among the top three most awarded agencies in the country.

The fact that the Philippine 4A’s (Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies) has repeatedly voted BBDO-Guerrero as the Best Creative Agency in the Agency of the Year Awards over the last 10 years excites Harris no end.

BBDO-Guerrero was also IMMAP’s (Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines) most awarded ad agency in its annual Boomerang Awards last year.

In the 22nd Advertising Congress, the agency was Agency of the Year for winning the most number of “Araw” Awards.

Together with Chairman and Chief Creative Officer David Guerrero, whom he describes as generous, with an unflinching commitment and a joy to work with, he led a team that won the high profile Department of Tourism business in January.


Harris is profuse with sincere and kind words for his Filipino staff at BBDO-Guerrero.

He dotes on the agency’s bundle of pride, whom he describes as “faultless in their energy, have sense of purpose, drive and no sense of ego.”

“Advertising is the same, whether you are in Manila, Manchester or Moscow,” he says and “Filipinos are just as creative as anyone else in the world or even better,” he adds.

Harris says that at BBDO-Guerrero, everybody understands why the agency should work hard and why it should do great work.

“Nobody wants to do a mediocre ad in the agency,” he says. “If you don’t understand that, the agency isn’t for you,” he points out.

His most nerve-wracking experience was when he, DG and the agency’s DOT team were called to Malacanang Palace to present the now famous: “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” campaign.

“The agency galvanized together and the excitement was bursting all over. We were the last agency to pitch for the account and we were very positive to win that business starting from day one,” Harris exults.

Indeed, it happened because Harris believed BBDO is a fantastic agency and network to begin with.

He is proud of the agency’s creative discipline. Harris speaks with sadness about agencies where people do not know where they’re going. “We must know our purpose and that is to be always the agency of choice by marketers,” he says.

Harris enjoys advertising and doesn’t like hierarchy in the creative process. He puts premium to communication, values openness and admires people who share their ideas.

“People think advertising is easy but doing advertising well is difficult,” he says.

He believes his agency’s advantage over competition is intelligent creativity, a fact most of their clients believe. “We think of better creative solutions and making things happen,” he proudly says.


The British guy who loves to tell people that he’s lucky to be working in the Philippines is proud of the agency’s culture of creativity and effectiveness.

“We are effective because we act like consumers, not as advertising practitioners,” Harris says.

As a consumer, he frequently flew on an airline account, rode on a SUV brand, binge on dairy brands he had worked with to feel, imbibe and experience the real thing.

To dramatize the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” idea, the whole agency, around 90 people all, flew to Davao, instead of the usual trip abroad, to get a first hand experience on how it is to be in one of the Philippines’ most exciting and fun places to visit.

At the end of trip, the agency had one unanimous verdict: It really was, indeed.

“Being a consumer allows you to do advertising better. You become real and credible to the audience you are talking to,” he says. Well said.

Harris believes that advertising should be fun and simple. He makes a potshot at those who make things complicated and indulge in ‘over-analysis paralysis’ process.

What about strategic thinking? Is the agency spending too much time being creative and forgetting the art and discipline of marketing warfare?

“The agency has good strategists, they are our catalysts for good creative products that are relevant to the market. We are creative because our strategists are our catalysts for work that are unexpected,” he proudly mentions in the interview.

How does he compare London’s advertising scene to Manila’s?

Harris admits that London is openly competitive, can be “parochially inclusive and almost ‘predatory”.

He describes Manila’s ad industry folks as welcoming, nice, warm and friendly. “Filipinos have that genuine desire to connect and express their collective congratulatory feelings, as typified by our recent wins in Cannes,” he says.

A very private person, Harris loves going around the city and has interesting collection of jukeboxes, complete with 45’ vinyl records.

With his limited spare time, he plays bass, guitar and keeps strange hours in an effort to keep up with his beloved Newcastle United playing in the English Premier League.