Thursday, July 14, 2016

68. Brand Icon: Nestle’s TITA MAGGI (MENCHU GENATO)

EVERYONE'S TITA--TITA MAGGI OF MAGGI NOODLES. As personified by the charming
Menchu Genato, a Maryknoll graduate, ca. 1981.

One of the most famous brand characters ever to be created to promote a line of products was the charming and appealing Tita Maggi. It was in the late 70s that Ace-Compton Advertising conceived of this young “tita” (aunt) to initially launch its new brand of instant, quick-cooking noodles—Maggi Rich Mami Noodles.

 The result was a fresh, endearing kitchen personality in a red and yellow outfit, complete with a yellow apron and a yellow chef’s hat—Tita Maggi-- which differentiated her completely from other female product endorsers at that time, who were either old, matronly or caricatur-ish.

GENATO, in a Westinghouse print ad, 1975

 When it was time to cast Tita Maggi, the agency picked an accomplished beauty-and-brains Maryknoll graduate, Carmencita “Menchu” Genato. Her credentials were impeccable: Menchu came from a well-known Spanish-Filipino family with roots in Manila and Zamboanga, that counted athletes and achievers (grandfathers Gil Fargas and Dr. Jose Genato Sr., competed in the Far East Games, grandmother Sarah Xeres-Burgos Genato was a champion bowler, uncle Antonio was basketball Olympian, brother Pepito was in the national soccer team, cousin Dyan Castillejo was a tennis champ), and beauty queens (Rosario Genato and Carmen Fargas were Carnival beauties).

TITA MAGGI, intro ad for Maggi Instant Mami Noodles.

In her college day, Menchu, herself, had been one of the Top 10 Outstanding Coeds of the Philippines (along with Marilou Diaz-Abaya). As one of the country’s prettiest faces, she dabbled in commercial modeling, mostly print ads. Right after graduation in 1974, San Miguel Corp. offered her a job as PR coordinator for Magnolia, which certainly helped prepare her for her role as Tita Maggi .


Soon, Menchu became even more visible when she forayed into TV and appeared as Bebs in the comedy series “Baltic and Company”(1974-1976) based on the comic strip of Roni Santiago that featured characters like Mr. Baltic (Prospero Luna), Miss Tapia (Mely Tagasa), Johnny the Janitor (Bert Marcelo) and Angelo Castro as her love interest.

 Then came her biggest break. A lucrative modeling contract with Nestle Philippines, which was set to launch the Maggi line of noodles, pre-cooked foods and sauce. She was the perfect choice—embodying the qualities of a young, happy homemaker (by then, she was already married to TV sports journalist Joaquin “Quinito” Henson), ready to spread the message of good taste to a generation of kids as their own “tita”.

 To Nestle’s delight, the first Maggi Rich Mami Noodles advertising campaign with Tita Maggi turned out to be well-received and successful. In time, Tita Maggi began appearing in an array of ads for Maggi Seasoning, Maggi Cook-it-Right Mix, Maggi Bouillon and Maggi Noodles ‘n Sauce.

TITA MAGGI, with other Nestle endorsers like Milo's Bea Lucero and
Bear Brand Mascot

Menchu became one of the busiest talents of the ad industry—when not shooting commercials and print ads, she was appearing in corporate shows, welcoming guests like famous TV chef Stephen Yan, hosting cooking programs, making the rounds of schools with her noodle-feeding drive, doing interviews and fulfilling commitments as an official Maggi brand ambassador. (Note: As Tita Maggi, she was always in character and was not allowed to be seen wearing an incomplete uniform in corporate shows).


 In her heyday, Tita Maggi was one of the most recognizable faces on TV, mobbed by hundreds of adoring kids and mothers wherever she went. There was a Tita Maggi Homemakers Club , and even a Tita Maggi doll made in her likeness. In between, Menchu found time to have a family with her husband; a daughter, Cristina, was born in 1983.


 When the run was over, the Tita Maggi campaign proved to be one of the most successful, most enduring campaigns in Philippine advertising history, spanning a period of some 20 years. Menchu went back to her San Miguel job in charge of Monterey, rose to become Vice president for marketing and retired in 1995. After retiring from San Miguel, she became a real estate broker and now helps her mother-in-law, Marina, in her insurance business. She also heads a foundation that assists abused women.

MENCHU 'TITA MAGGI' GENATO NOW.: therealdeanquinito FB page

 And yes, Tita Maggi gets recognized even to this day, by kids from the ‘80s and ‘90s, who once watched her commercials and introduced them to the world of Maggi—known for good taste the world over!

Quinito Henson and Menchu Genato--Why They Love Squash--the Healthiest of Sports.

Love of My Life, by Joaquin Henson. Sporting Chance. 12 April.2012. 


  1. Did she have some TV ads for Tender Care?

    Napanood ko kasi dati sa isang historical reel for the product although I'm not sure kung siya talaga or kamukha lang.

  2. BlueHost is definitely the best hosting provider for any hosting services you might require.

  3. Hi Sir Alex...
    You might wanna include this Maggi Noodles commercial in your blog...
    (Video courtesy of aianchan80)
    It says it's from 1990 but i'm not sure if this was also aired during the late 80's.