Saturday, October 27, 2018

188. For Aches, Pains, Trancazo: CAFIASPIRINA, Print Ads 1936- 1962

CAFIASPIRINA INK BLOTTER, Premium/ Giveaway. 1950s.

Bayer, the drug company that would give the world it most popular pain medicine—aspirin—was founded by German Friedrich Bayer on 1 August 1868. 

From manufacturing chemicals, it engaged in producing pharmaceutical products, and in 1899, Bayer Aspirin was introduced and the medication proved to be a universal success for the relief of minor aches, pains and fever.

Between the two World Wars,  new aspirin brands and aspirin-based products flooded the market. Brands like Aspro (Australia), St. Joseph’s, Burton’s and Molloy’s  (U.S.) were marketed internationally. In Latin America, Bayer produced a pain and fever relief brand fancifully called CAFIASPIRINA, coined from the Spanish word for "caffeine" combined with  "aspirin" (acetylsalicylic acid) , its 2 main ingredients.


CAFIASPIRINA became a popular pain medication brand in Latin American countries, like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and even in Spain and Portugal  in the mid 1920s, where it was heavily advertised. By 1936, CAFIASPIRINA ads began making their appearances in Philippine magazines. It quickly established itself as a trusted fever and pain relief medication.

Cortal, introduced in the 1950s, proved to be a worthy rival of CAFIASPIRINA, and both engaged in marketing wars. To push CAFIASPIRINA, an illustrated cartoon figure of a Filipina nurse began appearing on its print ads, most of which were drawn as comic strips.
NURSE CAFI, brand mascot, 1951

CAFIASPIRINA Comic Strip Ad, 1955.

Thus, Nurse CAFI joined the league of comic characters like Kenkoy and Capt. Cortal as brand icons to sell products in the marketplace. The illustration of Nurse CAFI, finished in 1948 but used only in 1951 ads, shows her in a typical white uniform holding a giant CAFIASPIRINA tablet foil pack. She appeared not only in print ads but also on botica merchandising signs with the battlecry--"Stop Pain! Feel Fine Again!",


In the course of 10 years CAFIASPIRINA was advertised on the basis of quick action (“works faster than wonder drugs”), efficacy (“goes straight to the source of pain”) , safety (“does not affect the heart”), and formulation (“ 3 marvelous pain fighters”). The brand actively was promoted in point-of-sale, through botica merchandising materials, premiums and giveaways.
RARE, ENAMEL SIGN FOR A BOTICA, Merchandising giveaway. 1950s

Cortal, however, was perceived as a more modern medication, and would eventually wrest market leadership from CAFIASPIRINA. CAFIASPIRINA advertising began tapering off in 1962, in favor of Bayer Aspirin ads, and such new product launches as St. Joseph’s Aspirin, also by Bayer. By mid 1960s, Cortal had become the best-selling pain relief brand in the Philippines. 

CAFIASPIRINA, strip ad, 1962

Today, CAFIASPIRINA continues to be produced by Bayer and remains a strong, loyal following in Spanish-speaking countries.


Thursday, October 18, 2018


THE YUMBURGER LAUNCH AD, showing an early Jollibee mascot.1978

Jollibee was just three years old when it began advertising in 1978. From a small Magnolia Ice Cream parlor put up in 1975 in Cubao, the visionary Tony Tan Cak Tiong, turned his dessert shop into a fast food restaurant, and the rest is history.

By April of that year, Jollibee was operating 8 stores in Manila: 4 in Cubao, 2 in Quiapo and 1 each in Greenhills and the University Belt.  The core offerings were burgers, and the flagship product was the YUMBURGER.

Jollibee YUMBURGER was a basic burger consisting of two buns that sandwiches a 100% beef burger patty slathered with a special dressing. It was a no-fuss, no-frill burger that nevertheless, delighted its market that had a taste nor just for good food, but also value for money. Indeed, “the hamburger with a double yum” was just priced at Ph.2.95!

The YUMBURGER was introduced in colored print ads mostly in weekend and women’s magazines in the first quarter of 1978. The print ad, whose maker or origin is unknown, was noteworthy for a lot of reasons.

It marked the first appearance of the bee mascot as the presenter of the YUMBURGER. It looked more like an insect than the friendly, chubby Jollibee mascot that we know now (Jollibee consultant Manuel C. Lumba is credited with conceptualizing the vest-wearing bee with a chef hat. Likewise, revising the restaurant’s name to”Jollibee”).

The origin story of YUMBURGER was also romanticized to appeal to children—the ad claims that YUMBURGER was created in Yumburg, “a place between here and nowhere”, pople by fairy-tale like characters.  In any case, YUMBURGER offered “Pure beef. Pure pleasure.Pure goodness. No cereals”.

To underscore the importance of YUMBURGER to the nusiness, the early Jollibee stores were even branded “JOLLIBEE YUMBURGER”. As the world knows, Jollibee dealt McDonald’s, an American brand, a big blow, and today, continues to lord over the local market as the the country’s leading fastfood chain. It has grown exponentially, expanding with branches the world over—the U.S., Southeast Asia (HK, Taiwan)  Middle East, Canada, Italy in Europe. All because of the burger that started it all—the YUMBURGER!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

186. Top Male Model of the 1980s: LEO RABAGO

LEO RABAGO, Naturelle Print ad, 1987.

One of the most sought-after models of the 1980s was discovered in a most unusual way. Leoncel Rabago, a gangly youth in his early 20s, was out skating at the famous  Skatetown of  Ali Mall in Cubao, when a talent caster passed by and saw something special in the slim and agile looker.

Archie Corteza was then one of the leading talent casters of the Philippine advertising industry, and he knew a raw talent when he saw one. 

After all, he had been successful in discovering and launching the careers of so many commercial talents—from Camay girls,  Close-Up teen couples, Cinderella fashion models to San Miguel Beer babes and hunks. 

He handled the likes of young Eric Quizon, Lito Gruet, Lloyd Sammartino, Miguel Rodriguez, Cris Coburn, who all had their start in commercials.

Corteza took the young skater—an adopted child-- under his wing. He enrolled him in a gym, trained him in fashion camps, introduced him to couturiers for their runway shows, and helped  transform him into a new commercial modelling sensation—Leo Rabago.

He first started appearing in fashion print ads, as these were simple enough. By 1984, his schedule was full, bagging  plum assignments from Cinderella department store, Walker, and his biggest break yet—as a resident model for SM, the biggest department store chain in the country.

In 1986, Leo Rabago entered the first ever Bodyshots Modelling Competition, organized by the Fashion Designers’ Association of the Philippines (FDAP). 

This contest was the launching pad for the showbiz careers of such winners as John Estrada, Alain Sia, Richard Cepeda, and Zanjoe Marudo. Not surprisingly Rabago emerged as the top model of the Male Division, Professional Category. 

The victory clearly established him as the country’s leading male model, boosting his stock and career to an all-time high.

He continued to model in fashions shows, appeared in MTVs., but TV commercial assignments—which were more lucrative—eluded him; it seems he  could not go past beyond the high-fashion image that he projected. 

As a result, he was often seen as a dashing escort, a secret admirer, or as a boyfriend—but never the lead.

With limited projects as he turned 30, Rabago left modeling,  got a new talent  manager and  tried his hand in acting. He debuted in the Gabby Concepcion-Maricel Laxa headliner “Ayoko Na Sanang Magmahal” in 1993. His next appearance was in the award-winning film “Wating”, a support to Richard Gomez. 


He accepted whatever work was available, and even did sexy films with such titles as  “Hapdi ng Tag-init” (1997), “Alipin ng Aliw”, “Campus Scandal”, “Bawal”,  (1998) and “Alipin ng Tukso” (2000) and “Lakas ng Pag-ibig” (2001). There would be no more film and TV assignments beyond 2001.

LEO RABAGO, plays support to Suyen Chi in a LAGERLITE PRINT AD, 1986
Along the way, Rabago fathered several children;  most  were married and abroad. Misfortunes continued to hound him; in 2000, he was jailed for assaulting the live-in partner of his sister with a knife. In 2010, his adoptive mother, Froilanda Rabago, died of aneurysm, a profound loss that deeply depressed and affected him. Not long after, Rabago began developing what he thought was acute amoebiasis. It turned out it was colon cancer.


Friends from the modeling industry took care of him in his dying days. Leo Rabago, once the most in-demand model of the 1980s ,passed away in the charity ward of the Eulogio "Amang" Rodriguez Medical Center in Marikina City on 10 February 2011.

Former model actor Leo rabago dies of colon cancer:
FB Page "Remembering Archie Corteza" (1948-2015)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

185. Brand Stories: PARKER QUINK, 1931


Before the ballpens took over, fountain pens were standard writing instruments in the Philippines, used in schools, offices, and for signing important documents. Fountain pens were filled up with ink—and one dominant brand that would become a staple import from the 40s through the 60s was Parker QUINK.

The brand name QUINK is a coined term that combines “quick” and “ink”, and was first introduced in March 1931, by the Parker Pen Company. It was developed for the company by chemist  Galen Sayler of Miner Laboratories, in Chicago.

The general-purpose ink was an instant success, as it had superior ink flow, water-resistant, and true to its name, it was quick-drying. Its formula included an exclusive additive known as “Solv-X”, which eliminated clogging. QUINK was supported by massive advertising. And by the time it reached the Philippines in the 1950s, it had become a household name.

QUINK was imported from the U.S., and its Philippine representative, Carbonell & Co. Inc, marketed and distributed the product in the 1950s. Other distributor-manufacturers included Exclusive Distributors Corp .of Makati, and  H. G. Henares & Sons, Inc. in 1961. It was available in Blue, Black, Blue Black. Red, Green, and Turquoise Blue colors.


Did a Filipino Invent QUINK?
For many years, it was believed that a certain Francisco Quisumbing, a U.S-educated Filipino botanist, was instrumental in inventing QUINK, and that his name inspired the product brand name (QUIsumbing INK).  Parker records, however, showed that no such person worked with the company.

QUINK New Improved Formula PRINT AD, 1960

But there was indeed a Francisco A. Quisumbing, a 1914 U.P. chemical engineering graduate who also earned a Ph.D. from Columbia Univeristy in 1921.This Quisumbing founded Quisumbing Inc. Products which supplied Philippine government bureaus with ink.There is no concrete evidence nor reliable documentation  that he had something to do with  QUINK. When QUINK was later manufactured in the Philippines under license from Parker, all the bottled products were properly marked with the Parker name.

QUINK, 1965 AD.

The reign of the fountain pen ends.
Fountain pen use waned in the 60s, as ballpens became more convenient alternatives. Prized today for their collectible value and status, they are still being manufactured in by Parker, including reproductions of classic designs—like the Parker 51 which was thought to use only QUINK. After 87 years, QUINK continues to be produced today, an indelible part of the history of written communications the world over.

wikipedia: Quink Ink