Thursday, October 17, 2013


By Roger Pe

With over 200 offices in 82 countries and 9,000 communication experts, Publicis Worldwide is the largest global network within Publicis Groupe (recently merged with Omnicom to become the world’s biggest advertising conglomerate).

Its global philosophy is “Lead the Change” and in Manila, its tough Chair and CEO practices what it preaches. Even in industry events that have national significance.

Matec Villanueva is also chair of Ad Summit Pilipinas, (together with Alex Syfu, Managing Partner at DM9 Jayme-Syfu advertising agency), the much-awaited event that when launched on May 2014, will dawn a new change in Philippine advertising.

In the much-publicized Adboard (Advertising Board of the Philippines) internal conflict, Villanueva fought tooth and nail for 4A’s (Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines) equity, a role she’s beholden to protect: Champion members’ interests by being their voice, inspiration and the moving force in the marketing communications industry.

She stresses the importance of PANA (Philippine Association of National Advertisers), KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Advertisers sa Pilipinas), MSAP (Media Supplier Association of the Philippines) and ASAP (Advertising Suplliers Association of the Philippines) into the fold and demonstrated how without them could lead to a vacuum in the industry.

Taking the bull by the horns, Villanueva puts an end to an impasse that has rocked an organization fraught with furloughs. After seven years, it’s good to have her back as 4A’s chair - for advertising’s most important event also goes back to where it rightfully belongs, the 4A’s.

First ever Ad Summit Pilipinas

The blue-ribbon event will see a different gathering of marketers and advertising practitioners in the country. For one, the word “congress” won’t be there, as if it was deliberately exorcised.

According to Villanueva, the Ad Summit is a change for the better, moving with the times, a convergence of the country’s best and brightest minds.

“We need to grow, we refuse to be outdated, we need to look forward,” Villanueva says.

Villanueva says Ad Summit will be refreshingly precedent making. She gives Inquirer’s Business Friday exclusive interview as she and her team roll their sleeves to mount the country’s first Ad Summit in seven months time.

BF: What is Ad Summit Pilipinas?

MV: It’s about caring for the industry we love. It is about looking forward and looking deeper into its needs. We also need to fill the void and provide continued learnings for the next generation of Filipino ad makers, which is our focus.

BF: Talking about focus, what’s the theme of Ad Summit?

MV: In a month’s time, we will know. We are still in the process of choosing the best and most relevant.

11 ad agencies are participating in the pitch and helping crack it. The winning agency will execute the event campaign, from brand identity down to its other creative merchandising permutations on various media channels.

The brief that we gave them was summarized into: “Events that are currently happening in the country and how they affect the ad industry.”

It was a beautiful briefing document that hopefully will be translated into a meaningful battlecry.

BF: Speaking about Adboard, why should 4A’s be chair?

MV: We don’t want to lose our grip on the very foundation that the 4A’s was created. Even with the explosion of digital and advent of new media,” at the end of the day, it is still advertising.

BF: Why should anyone not miss Ad Summit?

MV: It’s special, and we’d want it to be very visible and wonderfully felt. We are more concerned about quality than quantity of speakers in the program.
Attendees will see an Ad Summit that is professionally managed and an event run efficiently with clockwork precision.

BF: Give us a preview of what to expect in the Ad Summit.

MV: Gone will be the days of “kanya-kanya”. We are definitely bringing “Rock Star” speakers, global luminaries who are iconic, brilliant as their work that transcends national boundaries. We won’t have speakers who can’t even present.

We’d like to make Ad Summit an extension of 4A’s Aral – learning from the best and leading the change. Quality of speakers is one of the improvements we are putting in. We are rolling the red carpet for the finest.

We are focusing on intelligent programming and effective management of events to give the audience better grasp, and participation throughout the convention duration.

We are bent not too overload programs so attendees can manage their time well and register 100% attendance every session. We don’t want to see morning sessions not filled up because people stayed late the night before.

Then, there is also the “Kidlat Awards”. As the “Araw” fades into the sunset, the Creative Guild of the Philippines’ award-giving body will be woven into Ad Summit.

We intend to institutionalize “Kidlat” as the country’s most prestigious creative advertising competition.

The vision is just to make one advertising creative award giving body and make “Kidlat” as tough as Singapore’s CCA (Creative Circle Awards), Thailand’s BAD (Bangkok Art Directors Awards), Malaysian’s “Kancil Awards” and Australia’s AWARD (Australian Writers and Art Directors) Award. The competition’s format follows the world’s major award shows’ template.

BF: Previously, events like this earned a lot of money.

MV: That is not our main concern. While it is great to earn money, our main focus is to be of service to the needs of the industry first and foremost as I’ve mentioned.

BF: Has the Publicis Groupe-Omnicom merger beginning to have ripple effects in the Philippines?

MV: It is not easy and you cannot expect that with established brands like Leo Burnett, Saatchi, BBDO, TBWA and DDB. Clout maybe.

BF: What can you say to what you have become – from the girl who stumbled into advertising through the back door to chairman of one of the industry’s most financially vibrant ad agencies?

MV: Everything is not planned.
I believe that success is 30% skills and 70% luck. I admit I am not gifted but if you fall in love in what you do, things will be bestowed on you. I am married to my job and I consider myself lucky in my generation for having sought mentorship under these industry greats: Minyong Ordonez, Tony Mercado, Nonoy Gallardo, Emily Abrera, Mon and Abby Jimenez.

When I fell in love with advertising, I totally immersed myself into it and said: this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

BF: Who is Matec Villanueva after office?

MV: I am a lover of life, a health buff, married to my boys and I passionately teach advertising at Ateneo de Manila University. I have a great sense of history, reality, the past and the now. I am naturally resourceful and eager.

BF: Let’s play a word game based on your agency’s context. Choose only one, Creativity or Effectivity?

MV: Creativity. We’re already an effective agency.

BF: Awards or Billings?

MV: Awards. We have the billings and we’d like to shift focus on this one.

BF: Fame or Legacy?

MV: Fame.

Can Ad Summit Pilipinas bring back the hunger? Will it fire up today’s advertising and marketing people caught by the changes in the industry? Will we see a creative boom? Will local ad campaigns be more convincing and effective as hell? Villanueva thinks so. So, see you at the Summit!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


by Roger Pe

Has it outlived its purpose or is it just a name change?

For almost 40 years, the Philippine Ad Congress and its “Araw” Awards sideshow have been the most awaited events in Philippine advertising. Held every two years, they are the events to look forward to, to reflect back and bring home game changing global learnings.

A veritable who’s-who fills up every Ad Congress’ glittering marquee of speakers. Mark Tutssel, Joeri Van den Bergh, Charlene Li, Piyush Pandey, Neil Gaiman, among others, have once graced the Ad Congress to full capacity crowd.

If creative awards are your cup of tea, and lady luck shines on you, the “Araw” is a 3-hour moment of bliss or a bucketful of tears. If you are just bored and want to be seen, it’s a great event to unwind and rub elbows with old friends. You can even win a splashy car or big cash from the meal raffles, not to mention, party like hell.

On a more important note, the Ad Congress is special. It tells you if the Philippine economy is healthy, a barometer that gives us indication how robust it is going to be and how it is doing at the moment. You can call it the industry’s state-of-the nation’s address, and to dramatize its significance, sometimes, presidents of the Philippines are invited attend as its keynote speakers.

But alas, some good things must abruptly halt, for better or … for the future. The Ad Congress and the “Araw” appears to be headed to the twilight zone, weary, tired and rocked with ‘indefinite leaves’.

A couple of weeks ago, the Advertising Board of the Philippines (AdBoard) announced that is postponing the 23rd Advertising Congress due to “internal crisis”.

Originally set for November 2013, it will be the first time that it will not raise the curtains on the biggest assembly of advertising and marketing practitioners in the industry.

What gives? Three of the most influential members of the association, PANA (Philippine Association of National Advertisers), a 1,000-member strong group, 4A’s (Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies Philippines), and ASAP (Advertising Suppliers Association of the Philippines) each filed a furlough late last year and early this year.

KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters sa Pilipinas) fired the first salvo in 2007, bolting out over the issue of commercials allowed for two major tv networks. It has never gotten back to the fold since then.

Last May 14, at the Creative Guild (award-giving body of 4A’s) “Kidlat” Awards, 4As chairwoman Matec Villanueva announced that 4As is set to stage the first ever Ad Summit Pilipinas to be organized by the 4As with PANA and KBP expressing full support. The bomb virtually rendered the Ad Congress redundant.

As Ad Congress becomes “Ad Summit Pilipinas” and “Araw” reincarnates into a high voltage name “Kidlat”, Business Friday interviews, Raoul Panes, award-winning Leo Burnett Manila Executive Creative Director, former Creative Guild President and most recently chosen as “Kidlat” co-chair with Madonna Tarroyo, President of Unitel Productions, Inc.

BF: How do you see “Kidlat” Awards and Ad Summit together?

RP: The Ad Summit will bring together several industry organizations. “Kidlat”, being the 4As show via the Creative Guild, is certainly an integral part of it, a celebration of our best creative work of the year. It complements the other events in the Summit by the other organizations.

BF: How will “Kidlat” be different?

RP: “Kidlat” has certainly evolved a lot. We remember the time when it was the Creative Guild Ad of the Year show, with Ad of the Month winners as finalists. It later became the annual event that is now “Kidlat”. Through the years, the categories have multiplied and rules continue to be tweaked. Overall, it's the best showcase of advertising creative work in this country.

BF: “Kidlat's” focus seems to be more on creative, even its attendance.
Do you consider market results?

RP: There are other shows that consider effectiveness. “Kidlat” has always been a creative show and that's what differentiates it. In certain categories, entrants may opt to show how their work fared in the market, but that's their call. We have yet to finalize this year's rules but I don't think we will change the essence of “Kidlat”.

BF: How do you police “Kidlat” Awards from scam ads?

RP: The rules that define minimum airing and placement will of course be there. I understand that people have a way of going around these. Pre-screening is able to neutralize some of these with crosschecking and requirement of more proof. But for me, the best defense against scams is with the judges. If you feel it's a scam, don't vote for it. I'm confident that the “Kidlat” jury will have that kind of wisdom.

BF: Are scam ads still an issue in Philippine advertising?

RP: It's still there but maybe not as bad as before. We all just have to work harder at putting out real work that gets creative recognition. The more real work wins, the more scam dies. People are becoming more wary about being scorned for fake work in these times.

BF: Will the Ad Congress become a relic now that the Ad Summit is about to be launched?

RP: I really don't know. The powers that be of the various organizations involved in this issue are the best people to answer that. I just hope we all find a way to work harmoniously together again. After all, who doesn't have fond memories of past Ad Congresses?

BF: Tell us a bit about you.

RP: I’m a Business Management graduate of Ateneo. Advertising’s been my entire career. It hit the sweet spot – my fascination with both marketing and creative writing as a student.

I started in Account Management. I did that for a year but eventually succumbed to the creative itch, started as a copywriter at JWT – my formative years, so to speak, were spent there.

I then moved to Jimenez D’Arcy, which later became JimenezBasic with the merger. Later, I headed to BBDO before eventually going to Burnett. I have been privileged to learn from several greats with differing creative philosophies.

The late Butch Uy at JWT was a passionate visualizer and wordsmith. We’d be in the office on Saturdays just churning out multiple versions of detergent freight. I also admired his no-frills and earnest approach in selling work to clients.

From Mon and Abby Jimenez, I learned to bring out the Pinoy in the work. We’d spend days just sifting and winnowing for the “ethos”, as they called it. They also showed me that work-life balance is paramount.

David Guerrero pushed me to benchmark “the work, the work, the work” against the rest of the world. And then there’s Richard Irvine who affirmed my belief that success and humility can co-exist in a creative person.

BF: What’s your creative philosophy?

RP: It’s best captured by this Leo Burnett quote on my office door: “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

BF: What is Creativity to you?

RP: I was mainly motivated seeing my work on TV when I started copywriting. I still do. But I have a bigger picture now, if creative ideas can make a difference in somebody’s life - that to me is more significant.

To cheer up somebody’s gloomy day. Generate donations for a cause. Make somebody’s wash a little better. Offer a better alternative to one’s usual thing. How to do this and effectively sell a product or service, that’s what makes our trade fascinating and exciting.

Some creative people think that their work is their art, their selfie. I say: it’s not you but it’s the brand. Your work shouldn’t be a reflection of how “cool” or “hip” you are. These people end up becoming the most cynical about their profession.

BF: What do you think are some of the great Filipino ad campaigns made over the last 10 years?

RP: I have to go even way back. I’ve always liked those old San Miguel beer ads – “Isang Platitong Mani” and the lot, the glory days of PAC. Watching those as a kid motivated me, in part, to get into advertising.

Superwheel ads by JWT - classic riffs on Cleopatra and other characters. Of course, there’s Burnett’s Lolo TVC for McDonald’s – voted Ad of the Decade by the Creative Guild a few years ago. Up to now, people fondly remember the “Karen-Gina” lines.

More recently, I think the social media-driven tourism campaign by BBDO is smart work, given the tight budgets.

BF: Inspiring words that you can share to PDI readers.

RP: The world doesn’t revolve around advertising. So one must work harder to make the work stand out. And just when you think everybody thinks you’re a creative genius, you’re not – because the rest of the world has bigger things to worry about.

BF: The ad campaign that you are most proud doing and why.

RP: Right now I think it’s the McDonald’s work we’re doing. Our clients value creativity. The ads get creative recognition. But the bigger thing for me is that they’re creating or strengthening bonds with the brand among consumers. People talk about them spontaneously and this helps in the business. We can’t stay happy though. You’re only as good as your last work.