Thursday, December 28, 2017

144. TASTE THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT! Liquor Christmas Ads, 1936-1966


The long Christmas season in the Philippines, is indeed, the time to eat, drink and be merry….for tomorrow, we drink some more! Then, as now, when the holidays arrive, spirits and liquor products vie for  consumer’s attention by launching special Christmas ads in the hope of being included in his shopping list. Here are a few of them:

GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL, Old Filipino Custom, 1936

GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL,the world's no. 1 selling gin, has a heritage of excellence spanning more than 180 years. It was originally a product of Destilerias Ayala, Ic., founded in 1834. Its distinctive “marca demonio” label was designed by then-student Fernando Amorsolo, now a Philippine national artist. This Graphic ad from 1936, situates  GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL as part of  old Filipino Christmas customs, that also include serving noche buena lechon.

SAN MIGUEL BEER, Real Pleasure for the Holidays, 1957

SAN MIGUEL BEER  is the Philippines’ best known, and larget-selling  pale lager produced by San Miguel Brewery. It is a beer rich in history, as its parent company was established back in 1890. This midcentury Christmas ad of SAN MIGUEL BEER features two popular showbiz personalities at that time—the lovely Paquita Roces (the original Camay Girl) and the debonaire Fil-Danish actor, Ric Rodrigo.  Paquita was married to screen star Armando Goyena; while Rodrigo, husband of Rita Gomez, would win Asia’s Best Actor award in 1969, for the movie “Igorota”.

SUNTORY, Perfect for Christmas, 1963

SUNTORY Whiskey has its beginning s way back in 1899, when Shinjiro Torii began experimenting with the production of western-style whiskey in Japan. He managed to do that—and more—for in 1937, he created SUNTORY, a truly Japanese whiskey with a distinctive Japanese character—a masterpiece of Eastern artistry. La Fuerza Inc., of the Lim Family, became he local partner of SUNTORY in the 1960s, and this 1963 print ad was part of the product push for the Christmas season.

VOS BRANDY, Keep their Spirits High! 1964

La Fuerza Inc. was a distillery, incorporated in the 1950s  by the Lim family. Its local output were the Siu Hoc Tong energy liquor, C-88 and VOS Brandy, (Very Old Special brandy) which would gain prominence in the Philippine market in the 70s and 80s. Its commercials, known for being campy and sexist, introduced viewers to its most well-known slogan—“Pang romansa…espesyal!”, mouthed by a starlet holding a VOS Brandy bottle. But back in 1964, this VOS Brandy & Gin Christmas ad was pretty standard, safe and direct to the point.

TANDUAY RHUM, say 'Mabuhay'! 1966

TANDUAY RHUM,  by Tanduay Distillers, Inc., is an iconic brand of liquor with origins in a distillery in Hagonoy, Bulacan, acquired in 1856, by Ynchausti and Compania. A plant was built in Isla de Tanduay, near Quiapo and became the Tanduay Distillery. By the 1930s, its rum products were branded as TANDUAY RHUM. In 1934,  Elizalde & Company, Inc.  acquired  thedistillery and  operated it under the  name Tanduay Distillery, Inc. It became a leading producer of rums, liquor brands and other spirits. This 1966 ad capitalizes on TANDUAY RHUM as part of Philippine holiday drinking tradition, a drink hat "adds lilt and luster to the festive air".

Thursday, December 21, 2017

143. Call for Philip Morris! SEASON'S GREETINGS! 1965-1970

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, from Philip Morris' Johnny Bellhop, ca.1965

The products of PHILIP MORRIS International Inc. became known to the Philippines only in 1955, when a licensing agreement was reached with La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory to manufacture and sell PHILIP MORRIS branded-cigarettes in the country. It was PHILIP MORRIS’ first exclusive agreement outside of the U.S.
SEASON'S GREETINGS from Philip Morris, 1966
La Suerte Cigar & Cigarette Factory (La Suerte),44 Fortune Tobacco Corporation (Fortune),45 and Sterling Tobacco Corporation (Sterling)46 are domestic corporations engaged in the production and manufacture of cigars and cigarettes. These companies import leaf tobacco from foreign sources and purchase locally produced leaf tobacco to be used in the manufacture of cigars and cigarettes
MALIGAYANG PASKO, Call for Philip Morris, 1970
For over 40 years, La Suerte produced and sold PHILIP MORRIS, until Fortune Tobacco Corp. was established in 1965, which then took over the manufacturing and marketing of the brand, including another American favorite, Marlboro.
soource; wikipedia
PHILIP MORRIS advertising featured the iconic bellhop trade character which was conceived back in the Word War I years.  Hotel lobbies then were used as meeting places to meet people, talk business—and smoke. Initially, an illustration of a bellhop was used in early ads, and part of his duties was to page people, hence the slogan “Call for Philip Morris”.

Milton Biow, head of New York Biow Agency that handled the account, had the idea of‘humanizing’  the illustrated bellhop on PHILIP MORRIS ads. He found him in the person of a 23 year-old, a shade under 4 feet, 59-pounder Johnny Roventini (b. Aug. 15, 1910/d. Nov. 30, 1998) who was a real-life bellboy working at the New Yorker Hotel. He was asked to holler “Call for PHILIP MORRIS!”, which he did so in his high-pitched voice, not knowing that he was paging a product, not a person.

Johnny Bellhop was finally found and became the most successful spokesperson for PHILIP MORRIS. He appeared on TV and in print ads, lent his distinctive voice to a PHILIP MORRIS radio show, and is credited with spurring the growth of broadcast media.

Source: The Mouldy Spud , Uploaded July 27, 2010

Johnny prefaced the highly-popular “I Love Lucy” program of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz with his signature call--"Call for Phil-ip Mor-rees"”—in perfect b-flat, and helped keep the ratings soaring.

The iconic bellhop cigarette character was not unknown to Filipinos, thanks to the popularity of the early PHILIP MORRIS ads that featured him. In fact, the bellboy  was ‘copied’ by La Insular Cigarettes, for its local print ads in 1929. 

It was only in 1965 that the bellhop was used for PHILIP MORRIS magazine ads in the Philippines. The Christmas ads shown here feature a faithful illustrated likeness of Johnny Roventini, whose call for PHILIP MORRIS made him one of the most recognizable faces on media.

At the prime of his career, Johnny was earning a hefty $50,000 annual salary, thanks to his personal appearances that made him one of the most recognizable faces on media. Considered a “living trademark”, Johnny’s fame and success was enhanced by his ready smile and welcoming hands that won the admiration of people who came to see him.

from Isa Munang Patalastas

Friday, December 15, 2017


In 1983, the corporate campaign of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) , which traced the bank’s rich, historic past that includes  the distinction as being the first bank in the Islands—was launched amidst much fanfare, glowing reviews and a sense of pride.

The centerpiece material was an incredible TV commercial, part of an ambitious “Heritage” campaign that brings to focus the impressive 123 year heritage of the country’s first and largest bank. SS&C Lintas Worldwide-Manila, led by creative head Richard Gerardini,  was tasked to do the campaign that took all of 6 months to plan--from Dec. 1981 to June 1982.
BPI GIRL NIKKI PRIETO, Now a Tarlac congressman, wife of former 
presidential candidate and former Sec, of Defense, Gilbert Teodoro.

As the commercial included many period scenes, locations were scouted all over the Philippines. The location crew went to Vigan for a look-see, but the old houses were all whitewashed and the roads asphalted, so the search shifted to the south—and thankfully, Nasugbu and Taal—old Batangas towns—were chosen. The streets were dressed up to look like Pasig and Binondo, during the 1900s American period. The featured actors, the supporting cast and the extras were all costumed by leading production designer and wardrobe expert, Laida Lim Perez.

Casting was another major challenge.  Most of the talents were recruited by Mad Gallaga (wife of film director Peque Gallaga) who assembled name stars like Joel Torre (fresh from “Oro, Plata, Mata”) and Ronnie Lazaro, to take part in the ad, along with local townsfolk who portrayed farmers, fishermen and vendors.

The casting of the BPI Girl was another matter—the agency team wanted someone who has not appeared in any magazine cover or commercial, and the client wanted an embodiment of class, chic and timeless mystique. Monica Louise “Nikki” Prieto (now Teodoro, a  Tarlac congressman and wife of Gilbert Teodoro), then an international marketing student from a Swiss university, was the final choice.  But her school schedule allowed her only 10 days of leave—so the shooting of the 60 sec. commercial couldn’t go beyond 2 weeks. Prieto was promptly sent her round-trip tickets so she could come home for the Philippine shooting.
TV commercial cast.
The multi-awarded Image Films, Inc., one of the most experienced and prestigious production houses in the country was given the blue chip BPI assignment. Gen. Manager Amar Gambol contacted Pio de Castro III for the directorial job.  De Castro, who had been shooting films for10 years, was mentored by National Artist Gerry de Leon. 

DIRECTOR PIO DE CASTRO III (+) . He would be honored by the
Creative Guild of the Ph. with a posthulous Lifetime Achievement Award.
His credentials not only include internationally-awarded ads (PBM Steel “A Nation is Growing”, Kodak “Times of Your Life”) but also mainstream films like “Soltero”, and “Ina, Kasusuklaman Ba Kita?”. Commissioned to compose the jingle music was no less than Jose Mari Chan.

"Cherished Part of Me" Jingle Here:

The filming took up to 12 days of hard work, and every single day had its own challenge. Billboards and electric wirings had to be taken down or camouflaged with tree branches and cadena de amor vines, and whole rowhouses in Taal had to be whitewashed in Taal to reflect the look of the era. A town Marian procession with lit carrozas  had to be staged. And even Nikki Prieto’s modern girl gait had to be toned down to reflect the demureness of an early 20th century Filipina. Where an average 60 sec. ad cost about Php 200,000 to produce in the 1980s, the bill for the BPI ad cost up to several times more.

But everything was worth the wait, and the laborious hours that went into the final crafting the TV ad. When BPI president Xavier Loinaz previewed the film, he instantly fell in love with it. When the “Heritage” TVC aired in early 1983, it was hailed for its epic proportions, Filipino theme, technical and production design excellence,  and a memorable tuneful score. These significant impressions were not lost in the next Philippine Advertising Congress Awards as “Heritage” won a slew of technical and craftsmanship awards.

AD AGENCY: SSC Lintas: Manila
ART DIRECTOR: Olive Mestidio
PRODUCTION: Image Films, Inc.
DIRECTOR: Pio de Castro III
CASTING: Mady Gallaga

SOURCES:ISLANDS, a publication of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, vol. 1 no. 2, “Heritage: The Making of a Commercial, by Ma. Socorro Naguit, pp. 25-28.  July 1983.

Monday, December 4, 2017

140. JOHNSON’S BABY POWDER. Early Ads, 1953-1971

JOHNSON'S BABY POWDER Print Ad. ca. 1972.

 It was only in 1956 that the American pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson, set up its Philippine office, but years before that, its flagship product, JOHNSON’S BABY POWDER was already enjoying the good patronage of Filipino mother and their babies.

It was this product that shifted the reputation of Johnson & Johnson from a medical company to a “baby company”.

Invented in 1893, JOHNSON’S BABY POWDER was made from Italian talc that had a more soothing effect than the plasters J&J manufactured earlier. Talc also provided effective relief from diaper rash. The product was a success and was launched in the market the following year.

JOHNSON’S BABY POWDER , in the familiar tin packaging, was initially imported and sold by JOHNSON’s BABY POWDER was known locally as “Talco Johnson”.

Early Johnson's Baby Powder Ad, 1953

Availability of the product improved when the local J&J office on Dasmariñas St. took over the distribution of the U.S.-made Johnson’s product. Demand was so great that J&J contracted a local trading firm, Shiro, to manufacture JOHNSON’S BABY POWDER locally, in limited supply (J&J would soon set up its manufacturing plant in Pasig).

Marketing efforts were also stepped up, and J&J turned to professional advertising to support the lead brand. In the next couple of years, JOHNSON’S BABY POWDER was promoted solely for baby’s use—for the effective protection of his delicate skin against rashes and chafing. 


Though the slogan “Best for Baby. Best for You” appeared in 1959 ads, the message continue to focus on babies’ complexion.


For adults, Johnson’s also launched a medicated powder that was advertised in the early 1960s, but this did not catch on.

A PAIR OF JOHNSON'S BABY POWDER 'Mom & Das" ads. 1964.

It was not until 1964 that an attempt to expand its usage to adults was made in subsequent campaigns with reference to JOHNSON’ S BABY POWDER’s gentleness as “best for baby, for you”.

It would only be later, in the 70s and 80s, that ads targetting specific audiences i.e. other than babies-- like adults and youths—were produced to create broader appeal, by taking out the “baby-ness” from JOHNSON’S  BABY POWDER.

"Ikaw Lamang, Wala ng Iba" was one such campaign that was created by agency McCann-Erickson in the 1980s, which featured the product being used by teens.


youtube, Johnson's Baby Powder TVC 'Wala nang Iba" TVC 1980s, uploaded by Jackie Arjona, published 6 Nov. 2010.
Johnson & Johnson Philippines website

141. Creative Guild Print Ad of the Year 1987: VISINE EYEDROPS, “Visibly Refreshing”

Ace Compton, now officially known as Ace/Saatchi & Saatchi, scored its third Print Ad of the Year victory in 1987 with “Visibly Refreshing,” an ad for a mini-pack version of VISINE, Pfizer Philippines’ popular eye drops. “Visibly refreshing” had been running as a campaign for some time, and long-time client Pfizer, had wanted to use the brand name to sell the new 6 ml.  budget version. Client originally planned to use a predictable parade of progressive bottle sizes, but CD Jimmy Santiago and his concept team had other ideas.

The search for an “unmistakably optical device,: was conceived by art director, Ariel Dalisay.  Copywriter Robert Labayen lent his copy expertise, which Dalisay laid out over an entire page--jumbling and arranging the letters like those of an eye chart, commonly displayed in doctors’ offices.

Starting with a huge “A” at the top of the “chart” , Dalisay punctuated it with a shot of the product being peered at from under a small magnifier. Additional info copy—“Get a pack from this store”. “In tamper-resistant packs, too.”, and the battlecry “VISINE—Gets the red out in 60 seconds”—all fit satisfactorily into the full page, full color ad-cum-outlet poster without distracting from the intently recognizable visual device.

“That was the big idea”, Santiago recalls. “The eye chart for an eye product—the connection was almost seamless.”

VISINE stayed with Saatchi for several years after the ad was run.

AGENCY: Ace/ Saatchi & Saatchi
ADVERTISER: Pfizer, Inc.
PRODUCT: Visine Eyedrops
COPYWRITER: Robert Labayen
ART DIRECTOR: Ariel Dalisay

Perfect 10: A Decade of Creativity in Philippine Advertising, written by Butch Uy. Published by the Executive Committee of the Creative Guild of the Philippines. 1995.p. 24.