|Creative Guild’s 1984 Print Ad of the Year: ASTRA THREADS, “SUPERMAN”, Ace-Compton|
The Creative Guild’s very first Print Ad of the Year in 1983 “Superman” was a fitting testament to the sheer power of the image. It would also be the first among the eight winning ads coming from an apparent hotbed of print advertising excellence, Ace/Saatchi & Saatchi, then known as Ace-Compton.
The client was Allied Threads, an established British thread manufacturer with worldwide operations, but whose product, ASTRA THREAD, was locally known only among neighborhood dressmakers.
“It was a low involvement product”, recalls Jimmy Santiago. “Who really cares much about thread!”.
The client, whose previous advertising experience involved no more than a few fashion posters and some technical TV material harping on the product’s strength, had walked into the Ace-Compton office and announced that they wanted to advertise their product in print.
It was, Santiago recalls, just the kind of job Ace-Compton loved—“A product that gave us the flexibility to be creative without worrying about global constraints”.
The product brief, recalls then creative director Mon Jimenez (now co-CEO of Jimenez/ DMB&B) contained such brass tacks, unappetizing product descriptions as fiber composition, thickness and the like.
“If you looked at the thread under a microscope.” Jimenez recalls Astra’s titillating claims,”you would see the strands of cotton that made the product much stronger than cheaper products”.
While Jimenez and company sett;ed immediately upon strength as the chief selling point, Jimenez himself refused to take the reader through the whole microscope routine once again.
In fact, he eschewed any use of scientific data altogether. “We needed a simple idea that would be its own proof, and idea so powerful it would sell itself.”
The questions were then asked, Who would need such prodigiously strong threads? And what image would make this benefit so clear that consumers wouldn’t feel the inclination to ask any more smart questions that the ad didn’t have the space nor the time to answer?
Santiago recalls that it was Jimenez who hit upon the Superman idea, singled out from among other less vivid options, ”and he was jumping up and down about it. How could you not be strong if you had Superman as an endorser?”
“Well, Superman certainly needed strong thread,” Jimenez assert. “And when people have accepted Superman who’s not exactly a real person, then there’ any danger of them looking at the ad and saying,”No, that’s not true”.
Art director Salvador Luna, production manager Rudy Maliglig and photographer Eduviges Huang worked on what was to be a cropped, colorful shot of Superman’s firm shoulder. The picture conveniently conceals the man of Steel’s face, and only a portion of the big, bold trademark on his chest is visible, but there was certainly no mistaking the subject for anybody else.
Superman;s eye catching blue jersey, accentuated by the nice drape of his solid red cape,is conspicuously torn at the shoulder. In an ingeniously contrasting image of gentle persuasion, a decidedly feminine pair of manicured hands, pinkies poised, is set to run a needle through the costume, using of course, you-know-who’s worthy product.
The visual was so clear, copywriters Margarita Arroyo and Alex Castro needed to top off the analogy with a single one-liner, prudently placed above the fine print on product composition and color variety. “Astra is Strength”, the text reads, and the product gets added distinction from the use of its logo.
Did it work?
Santiago reports that Astra became immediately identifiable—“It became most recognized among all other brands of threads”—and the print ad won a Clio citation.”It worked so well,” Jimenez adds,”that they eventually had to go to the serious stuff after that.” At least Superman had its day.
- Creative Guild of the Philippines, 1984 PRINT AD OF THE YEAR
- Creative Guild of the Philippines, APRIL 1984 PRINT AD OF THE MONTH
- Creative Guild of the Philippines, APRIL 1984, TV AD OF THE MONTH
- Philippine Advertising Congress, AWARD OF EXCELLENCE, Print,1984
- CLIO Awards, FINALIST CITATION, New York, 1984
PERFECT 10: A Decade of Creativity in Philippine Advertising, Published by the Executive Committe of the Creative Guild of the Philippines. 1995. Butch Uy, Alya Honasan