Thursday, November 16, 2017


The Philippines caught the Music Television (MTV) fever in the 1980s, which used music videos presented by by video jockeys or VJs. The creatively-produced videos used early computer techniques, quick, out-of-synch editing, spliced with mood footages and unrelated visuals—a fresh look that appealed to the young generation of that time.

"You'll never look at music the same way again"—the 24 hour MTV channel proclaimed—and it delivered that promise, building a world-wide fanbase while exerting significant influence on its audience.

Ad agencies took note of this—and Lintas: Manila—sold the bold idea of using MTV style ads for Philippine Refining Co.’s CLOSE-UP TOOTHPASTE, which is positioned as the toothpaste for  young Filipinos. Maria Lourdes “Diame” Alba, the woman behind this concept, relvealed that the use of an MTV-style commercial to relaunch the gel toothpaste that has been in the market since the early 70s, was an experiment in breaking out from the mold of youth advertising.

Since it was difficult to present the MTV imageries using a traditional storyboard, the Lintas creative opted to make a rough video using past CLOSE-UP footages edited with computer effects, using Gwen Guthrie’s reworked “Close to You” song.The ideas was met with the PRC marketing team’s approval, then headed by Peter Dart and Angie Lacson.

Lintas: Manila then assembled a creative production team headed by Director Jun Reyes to produced the longest commercial in history: 2 minutes and 17 secs.—a fanciful, a little irreverent, a bit amusing and a romantic music piece—that was promoted a a TV event. When the CLOSE-UP “Close to You” ad unfolded on Philippine TV in early 1987, the MTV was met with amazement  and acclaim, with many thinking it was a slick, foreign material.  Teeenrs went agog over the commercial, and college-age students lapped it up, and the ad became a marketing case study in schools.

WATCH THE CLOSE-UP “Close to You” MTV Ad here:
Published by ALGLecaroz, 18 Sep. 2011

 Since then, Lintas:Manila have produced 3 more MTV style commercial versions—“Closer to your Love”, by Al Jarreau and “When I Fall in Love” (1988)  by Natalie Cole. 

WATCH CLOSE-UP "When I Fall in Love" TVC  1988 Here:

A local recording company packed a CD selection of love songs entitled CLOSE-UP Love Songs”,  inspired by the campaign. The CLOSE-UP ad also won a slew of Gold trophies at the 1987 Philippine Advertising Congress,winning for Best TV, Personal Products; Best in P.O.P. and Collaterals; Best in  Production Design; Best Multi-Media Campaign.

ADVERTISER: Philippine Refining Co. (PRC)
PRODUCT: Close-Up Toothpaste
AGENCY: Lintas: Manila
ART DIRECTOR:  Jo Chua/ Nap Jamir
PRODUCER: Bong Malsi
DOP: Boy Yñiguez
ANIMATOR: Pete Jimenez


De la Torre, Visitacion: Advertising in the Philippines, Tower Book House, 1989.
youtube: "When I Fall in Lovewith Closeup",, Uploaded by Closeup Philippines, 2011 Nov. 20
youtube, #1 Closeup,, Uploaded by ALGLecaroz, 2011 Sep. 18

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

137. FRANK H. HALE: THE MAN BEHIND ESCO SHOES, The Shoe of Quality, 1929

Reprinted from the Frank H. Hale Permanent Collection Brochure, presented by the American Historical Collection.

FRANK H. HALE Old timer, industrialist, and friend 
of the Filipino people
At the time of his death in Manila in 1952, pioneer shoe manufacturer of the Philippines, Frank H. Hale (b. Aug. 30, 1872) was called “Friend of the Filipino People.” He was also known as “Mang Isko” by millions of Filipinos, who gave him this nickname in appreciation of his contribution to Filipino life. His vision was that every Filipino replaced his or her chinelas with a pair of sturdy, stylish, and affordable shoes.

The brand ESCO became a household word, and its shoes were soon being worn even in remote areas of the Philippines. Mr. Hale became the largest exporter of shoes to the U. S. and Europe. At the outbreak of WWII, Esco was the largest manufacturer of shoes in the Philippines and, according to some economists, possibly in the whole of Asia.

1929 ESCO PRINT AD, from Graphic Magazine.

From humble beginnings as a volunteer cobbler with the U. S. Army aboard one of the American ships sailing to the Philippines in 1898, followed by his setting up shop in Fort McKinley under the auspices of General Pershing, Hale built what became Esco.

1929 ESCO PRINT AD, from Graphic Magazine.

Having grown up on a wheat farm in California that suffered from a wheat market disaster in the U. S., he was determined to create something needed in the Philippines to last for generations to come and to be a stable organization staffed by Filipinos for Filipinos.

1929 ESCO PRINT AD, from Graphic Magazine.

Reinvesting all profits made, he turned the cobbler shop into a modern industry. He arranged for machinery, backed by royalties, to be brought from United Shoe Manufacturing in Boston, Massachusetts, and imported the finest leathers from the U. S., Italy. Argentina and Australia, to manufacture fine shoes capable of competing worldwide in terms of style and strength.

1929 ESCO PRINT AD, from Graphic Magazine.

ESCO became the manufacturer for leading brands in the U. S. and Europe, as well as the contractor for military and industrial shoes in the Philippines. Manpowered by 100% Filipino skilled workers, ESCO became a model corporation where employees were given housing, medical, social and sports facilities. Employees’ families thrived, and some opened up their own businesses backed by ESCO resources.

1929 ESCO PRINT AD, from Graphic Magazine.

Hale then experimented with Philippine materials, opening Tropicraft Corporation, which experimented steel and plastics to increase the strength and life rattan furniture. His admiration of the Philippines led him to call it the “Land of Promise, Opportunity.” He was included in Who’s Who with other leaders of agriculture and industry in the Philippines.He also opened Lyric Music House, bringing in the finest musical instruments from abroad for the tastes of talented musicians of the Philippines.

1929 ESCO PRINT AD, from Graphic Magazine.

During WWII, the Japanese military government confiscated the factories and turned them to their own uses. Mr. Hale was interned in Santo Thomas where he helped sew up older co-interns’ shoes. Reconstruction after the war meant adjusting to new conditions within the new Philippine Republic. He was weak by then but nevertheless
returned to success but on a smaller scale.

The exhibit features Mr. Hale’s personal belongings, generously donated by his granddaughter Ruth Hale Cobb Hill to the American Historical Collection.

American Historical Collection:
Various Graphic Magazines from 1929

Friday, November 3, 2017

136. Brand Icon: TITA FRITA of Tita Frita Banana Catsup 1989

1989 TITA FRITA CATSUP AD, with the wholesome Rita Avila.

As Nestle’s Tita Maggi was winding down her reign, another “tita” appeared on the ad scene as the brand name for a condiments line by Zest-O Corporation. TITA FRITA included bottled tomato and banana catsup, and hot sauce.

To launch the new products, the company created a brand character in the mold of Tita Maggi—wearing a chef’s hat, an apron over a colored shirt.

They found the image of TITA FRITA in Rita Avila, then a 24 year old actress with 2 years of showbiz experience under her belt. She had dabbled in commercial modeling in her teen years, and no one knew at that time that her career was about to soar with her appearance in so-called "ST" films, with soft core content.

Surprisingly, the wholesome TITA FRITA character took off when the ads aired, and so did Avila’s rise to stardom as a sexy, and later as a dramatic actress.

Today, TITA FRITA is  no longer as extensively advertised (now sold as institutional products). However, Rita Avila, aka TITA FRITA, continues to enjoy her showbiz career to this day, on both the TV and film screens.

Tita Frita Photo Source: Mr. & Ms. Magazine, 1989.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


 FILIPINAS LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY was founded on 27 April 1933, as a subsidiary of Filipinas Compañia de Seguros, in response to the Insurance Commission’s ruling that insurance companies must have separate life and non-life business divisions. The parent company--Filipinas Compañia de Seguros—had been founded earlier in 1913 by Antonio Melian with  brothers-in-law Fernando Antonio and Enrique Zobel  y de Ayala.

The business was briefly interrupted by the war, and when FILIPINAS LIFE resumed its operations, it would flourish and become a dominant name in industrial life insurance for over 30 years thru the 1970s. All the more when FILIPINAS LIFE began advertising on radio, using a high-recall jingle first heard on the airwaves in 1977.


Advertising icon Greg Macabenta of Advertising and Marketing Associates (AMA), penned the lyrics, which was produced by Rusty Velila.  Music was provided by the famed D’Amarillo Studio Orchestra while the singers were billed as “The Filipinas Singers”.Needless to say, the FILIPINAS LIFE Jingle became one of the most widely-heard jingles in the country, catapulting the company topmost in the minds of Filipinos.

In 1990, FILIPINAS LIFE became Ayala Life Assurance Inc. to underscore its transformation into a full-service life insurance company. Twenty years later, it would be renamed BPI-Philam Life Assurance Corp., following the sale of BPI’s stake in Ayala Life to Philam Life.

Despite its new name, oldtimers still recall the insurance giant’s former name through the strains of a memorable jingle that woke everyone up in the early morning, singing along with its catchy chorus—FILIPINAS…FILIPINAS LIFE…FILIPINAS LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY!!

Macabenta, Gregg. How to Make a Benta: Anecdotes, Lectures & Articles from the Advertising Wars Paperback – March 28, 2011
youtube, Filipinas Life (famous 70s jingle), posted by limva123, April 9, 2013. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

134. NESCAFE, “Great Cities of the World” Campaign, 1979-1980

NESCAFÉ’s most successful campaigns in the 1980s was, without a doubt,  the "Great Cities of the World", conceived by the all-Filipino agency, Advertising and Marketing Associates in 1979. In fact, the “Great Cities” campaign turned out to be a pre-cursor of another major NESCAFÉ hit—the “One World of Nescafe” , launched in 1983. But that is getting ahead of the story.

The “Great Cities” campaign was actually NESCAFÉ’s response to the claim of Blend 45 that “everyday, millions of cups are served all over the Philippines”.  Blend 45 then was NESCAFÉ’s chief competitor, primarily because of economics (it was cheaper),with a taste that’s “good enough” (although research shows that if the consumer respondent had money, he would go for Nescafe).

Research also showed that the positive image of NESCAFÉ was being driven by perceptions that it was an “international” and “imported” brand—which are often equated to “higher quality” in a time when colonial mentality was still prevalent in the Philippines.

The “internationality” of NESCAFÉ vs. the local Blend 45 thus became the basis of the campaign’s proposition, articulated by the consumers themselves: “We prefer NESCAFÉ because of its superior taste and quality, being an internationally-accepted brand”.

The next step was for creative chief Greg Macabenta to write the thematic line for the campaign, which he summed up as “NESCAFÉ…enjoyed in the great cities of the world.”  Nestle, represented by marketing head, Mr. Levi Castillo, approved the campaign.

TV commercials were immediately produced, with foreign footages supplied by the McCann-Erickson ad agency, which was shooting similar commercials for Nestle Japan. Scenes of people enjoying NESCAFÉ in Madrid, Rome, Paris and other European cities were featured in print ads, and of course, the campaign  was highlighted by a Manila version of the successful commercial series.

The campaign ran for three years until 1983, when the same concept was reincarnated into the equally-acclaimed launches of  "A Classic Taste The World Enjoys" and “One World of NESCAFÉ" extension campaigns.

Macabenta, Greg B., ”How to Make a Benta - Anecdotes, Lectures & Articles from the Advertising Wars”. pp. 88-89. March 2011

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

133. Why Don’t You Shop Around With a Friend? 680 HOME APPLIANCES INC.

In the late 70s and 80s, 680 HOME APPLIANCES INC. built a reputation as the go-to place for affordable domestic appliances and electronics, big and small, for the home, for school and for work. It was well known for its wide range of products—from calculators to electric fans, lamps and TV, rice cookers and gas ranges-- all at bargain prices. To top it all, it gave away lots of freebies too!

680 HOME APPLIANCES began its store operations in August 28, 1968 at its first and original store on 680 Rizal Avenue, Sta Cruz. Manila—hence the name, 680. Just 11 years after, the company moved its main office to a spacious 5-storey building on a sprawling 3,300 sq. m. lot along EDSA, on 839-841 Edsa, Diliman in Quezon City.

It was just a matter of time that 680 HOME APPLIANCES expanded its operations base to P. Burgos, Makati (1989), Imus, Cavite (1995) and the following year, Dasmariñas. Later in 1996, the Baliuag branch opened, followed by the one in Tanay (1997).


As well known as its easy-on-the-pocket merchandise is 680 HOME APPLIANCES' brand of advertising. Shot mostly in betacam formats, they looked rather unfinished, and amateurishly directed. Most memorable was its jingle, with a cloying, but easy-to-recall music and lyrics that went something like: ”why don’t you…shop around, with your friends…”. Why, 680 HOME APPLIANCES even managed to snag celebrity endorsers to appear in its TV ads!

youtube, 680 Home Appliance,, uploaded by fishbolero, 2 Jan. 2008

Saturday, October 14, 2017

132. Is That Who I Think She Is? CHERIE GIL for CITROBELLE, 1979

CITROBELLE is a brand name of a skin cleanser produced by Oro Laboratories in the early 1970s. It was used to clean facial skin that ordinary washing cannot do, to help remove blackheads and prevent pimples and acne problems. Just like its major competitor Eskinol, CITROBELLE contains tiny cleansing granules in a medicated citrus-y solution, leaving skin soft and younger-looking.

CITROBELLE print ads appeared in major weekend magazines, featuring generic female models touting the efficacy of the product with its unique Lemon Action.  

Still going strong five years later, CITROBELLE enlisted an up and coming teener with an impeccable showbiz pedigree.

The only daughter of actress Rosemarie Gil and 60s singer-actor Eddie Mesa, Evangeline Cheryl Rose Eigenmann y Gil (b.12 May 1963) had made several early appearances in films and TV as an actress and singer, using names as Sherrie Gil, Cherry or Cherrie Gil. Not many know that also did commercial modeling, bagging a 2-year contract to model for CITROBELLE  Skin Cleanser at the tender age of 16.

CITROBELLE, Print Ad, Woman's Home Companion, 1979

She did at least 3 versions of these CITROBELLE print ads, but her big break came when people took notice of her in the  1980 film, “Problem Child” with Lloyd Samartino. That paved the way for many more appearances and recognitions in films, teleseryes and stage. Gil’s memorable body of works include: Manila by Night (1980), Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan, Oro, Plata, Mata (1982), Sana’y Wala ng Wakas (1986), My First Romance (2006).  She is best known for her role as the antagonist Lavinia Arguelles in the movie, “Bituing Walang Ningning”. As a singer, she recorded  her only hit song, “Boy”, in the late 70s.

CITROBELLE AD, Woman;s Home Companion, 1979

A favorite soap star,, she did her first TV drama, May Bukas pa, in 2000. In 2006 she was cast in the hit TV remake of Gulong Ng Palad, and was in the 2010 fantasy, Grazilda on GMA 7. Her latest guestings include Alyas Robin Hood (2017) and Tadhana, as Madam Bital.