“Big, brown & beautiful…”
The stunning 1989 ad of the year remains an industry classic and epitomized the kind of assignment that every creative person dreams of one day finding in his pigeonhole.”That was a fluke,” declares Nonoy Gallardo, former basic/FCB executive director and now, president of Creative Partners.
“Our clients gave us complete freedom, it was a new situation, and we were experimenting with a new sound. Serendipity talaga. There will never be another account like that again”
The account was Cosmos Bottling Corporation, an old softdrink manufacturer with such an image problem, Gallardo recalls, citing the mountains of research conducted by Basic/FCB in preparation for the five-agency bid, that store owners were actually ashamed to carry the brand. “All they remember was the SARSI with egg. The brand needed a complete overhaul.”
The overhaul began when Cosmos was newly acquired by the Concepcions, who wanted it relaunched in a big way. “Suddenly,” recalls the SARSI copywriter and now Jimenez/DMB&B creative director Teddy Catuira,”there was this brand with a heritage, but with very poor communications that wanted to go against the giants.”
It was decided early on, Catuira says, that music would be the main weapon of choice. “What better way did you have of reaching the youth?” explains Gallardo. “But if we came up with a typical Top 40s song, luma kami sa Coke and Pepsi.”
Serendipity proved to be the savior because, at the same time, Katha, the organization of songwriters of which Gallardo is an active member, had been toying around with the concept of genuinely Filipino music, searching for an amalgam of influences and northern and southern rhythms that could be considered distinctively Pinoy. They called it “Brown Music,” and Gallardo and his collaborator, composer Ryan Cayabyab, suddenly found themselves with a perfect venue for experimentation. “We took Ryan and his keyboard to the presentation.” Gallardo laughs,”and we lectured the client about the lack of dictinctiveness of Filipino music.”
Soon, a series of commercial heralding the advent of the “Bagong Tunog” was in the works, featuring independent ads that gave unique personalities to SARSI, Cheers and Pop Colas as Basic/FCB plunged into a flurry of activity. The Creative Guild chose SARSI’s “Angat sa Iba” 45 seconder as the TV Ad of the Year.
The SARSI material, Catuira says, was written in a flash---as in, about 10 minutes before Cayabyab had to put the words to music. With SARSI being “neither here nor there, east meets west,” as Catuira explains it, it was the angle of versatile superiority that ultimately drove the ad.
WATCH SARSI "Angat sa Iba" TVC here:
Director Jeric Soriano, art director Egay Oliva and the whole creative team “poured on the creativity,” Gallardo recounts, and holed up in a studio to shoot what became a colorful celebration of departure from the norm.
Swimmers and dancers leapt joyously out of acrowd of carbon copies, while precision dancers and kabuki masks provide the uniform assembly-line backdrop for the welcome upstarts. The proposition was simple and not too presumptuous: try this product if you’re tired of the obvious two-faced big brand monopoly—just for a change.
“Ganoon nga ba talaga?” the a capella beginning chorus questioned, “pare-pareho na lang ba?” before thumping into a vibrant and triumphant “Mag-SARSI ka para ma-iba!’ It was definitely high-gloss softdrink advertising, with a strong Filipino heart, and the audience could tell the difference immediately.
The timing was also perfect, Catuira recalls, as “there was still this post-EDSA hype about being Filipino.” This “upsurge of nationalism.” Gallardo adds, filtered out to the rest of the industry, as other agencies and production houses cheered the team on.”Everyone was excited and everybody saw it as an industry accomplishment. They wanted to show the Hong Kong people that we were just as good at production as anybody else.
SARSI skyrocketed back into the national consciousness, reappearing in restaurants and stores. The erstwhile snooty storeowners were begiing dealers for cases of the “Bagong Tunog” softdrinks. And, Gallardo claims, the ad remains a reference for the creative advertising that did its job very well.
AGENCY: Basic/ FCB
ADVERTISER: Cosmos Bottling Corporation
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Nonoy Gallardo
COPYWRITER: Teddy Catuira
ART DIRECTOR: Egay Oliva
PRODUCERS: Mario Sarmiento, Roby Ablen
DIRECTOR: Jeric Soriano
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rody Lacap
PRODUCTION HOUSE: Production Village
PERFECT 10: A Decade of Creativity in Philippine Advertising, published by the Executive Committee of the Creative Guild of the Philippines, an affiliate of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines. Manila, 1995