Sunday, November 1, 2015

16. Where Are They Now? That RTO Boy "Joey": RJ LEDESMA Jr.

One of the most popular characters ever to have emerged from 1980s soda advertising was the irrepressible “Joey”, a prepubescent boy on the threshold of discovering puppy love, peer pressure and juvenile angst.

Charming, quick-thinking and with the ability to get out of potential teen troubles, Joey  was the main character in the very successful  Royal Tru-Orange campaign that ran from 1987-1989. The campaign included a series of acclaimed TVCs featuring developed under the theme—“Ganito Talaga Ang Buhay” (That’s How Life Really Is)---that struck a chord among young people who related to Joey’s issue-management style—from handling his pushy barkadas, attracting the attention of his crush (Jenny) and other rites-of-passage challenges.

youtube credits: RJ Ledesma channel

Joey was ably played by Rene “RJ” Ledesma Jr., eldest son of real estate entrepreneur Rene Locsin Ledesma and Fortune Aleta, honorary consul of Monaco. The animated RJ was cast by Amy Salona of McCann who found his naturally bubbly personality perfect for the RTO campaign (after all, the tagline was—“Ikaw at Ako...Natural!”). The launch commercial, "Kuya" was directed by no less than Lino Brocka, and it would be followed by many other Joey episodes including "Teacher's Pet" and "Truth or Consequence". 

youtube credit: manilabackintheday's channel

However,his performance in  the “Mantika” TVC version,  was what endeared RJ to the young softdrink audience—and at the 1988 Creative Ad of the Year Awards, he was named as one of the Top Ten Best Commercial Models of the Year. The Radio version of "Mantika" was named Radio Ad of the Year. 


After his commercial modeling days were over, RJ finished his schooling and was employed briefly at Procter and Gamble Philippines as a brand manager. He left that job to work on events management, and became a sought-after host. He never  actually left the limelight as he also flirted with acting on TV and in the movies (Lastikman, Habang May Buhay, Magkaribal, Bride for Rent) and hosted educational and lifestyle shows such as Math-tinik, Tahanang Pinoy, The Men’s Room, Best Men.

To date, Ledesma has 5 published books based on his newspaper column on The Philippine Star.

RJ finished his Masters of Science in Real Estate Development at the Maasachussets Institute of Technology and sit as the EVP of their family business, Ledesco Development Corporation.

He is also a well-known Philippine STAR columnist since 2006 (his column “Parallel Universe”,has become the basis of 5 best-selling books), magazine editor , events host and entrepreneur.


With his wife Vanessa Pastor-Ledesma, RJ founded the successful Mercato Centrale food market at The Fort and Soderno in Alabang. RJ and Vanessa have two children: Fortune, 3, and Rene III.

RJ Ledesma may be all these, but for teens growing up in the tumultuous ‘80s, he will be forever the young and cool Joey, who brought us along his RTO escapades and who remained on top and in control—kahit ganito talaga ang buhay!

‘Ganito Talaga Ang Buhay”
Agency: McCann-Erickson Philippines
Advertiser: Royal Tru-Orange (Coca Cola Bottling Co.)

youtube credits: RJ Ledesma channel, manilabackintheday's channel

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