Friday, November 30, 2018

193. Brand Names That Became Everyday Pinoy Words #6: VETSIN

VE-TSIN, as a brand name was first used by Tien Chu Ve-Tsin Mfg. Co. Ltd. in 1923

Monosodium glutamate was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese inventor, who isolated the natural flavor-enhancing substance found in seaweed.

MSG, as it is called, is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, also naturally occurring in molasses, cheese, mushrooms, grapes and other fruits. First commercially produced in 1908 by the Suzuki Pharmaceutical Co. in Japan as “Aji-No-Moto”, it was next introduced in Taiwan and China.

Tien Chu Ve-Tsin Mfg. Co. Ltd., based in Shanghai and Hong Kong, was a well-known manufacturer of honey by-products,  food chemicals and additives. It also became a pioneering maker of MSG in China in 1923.

MSG in Mandarin was called “wèijīng” ( 味精), transposed into the Romanized version as “ve-tsin”. Tien Chun’s vet-sin product became so popular that the product was sold abroad as Ve-tsin Gourmet Powder—with just a sprinkling enough to bring out the flavor of food. The product was even awarded a Gold Prize at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, U.S.A.

VE-TSIN Print Ad, Graphic Magazine, 1936

Chinese stores in Manila began carrying the Tien Chu Vet-Sin brand as early as the 1930s. One Chinese  store along Calle Poblete-- Ow Yong Pun Shek—carried the brand and advertised it on leading magazines of the day.  Filipinos took to using the flavor enhancer which became a kitchen staple in almost every home.


In the early 50s, other Vet-Sin brands became available, like “Markang Manok” (Hen Brand), a more affordable powder seasoning that came in bottles, bowls and trial size sachets. It was packaged and distributed by Agricom Devpt. Co. Inc.

VE-TSIN MARKANG MANOK (Hen Brand Food Seasoning), 1962

In 1958, Aji-No-Moto, the original MSG set up its operations in the Philippines and in  a few years, became a dominant MSG leader, practically wiping out competition and practically monopolizing the market.

Though Aji-No-Moto never used “ve-tsin” in its product descriptor (it used “food seasoning” and “glutamic acid” at the height of the MSG heath controversy), majority of Filipino consumers always refer to the popular Aji brand as “vetsin,  betsin or bitsin”—a legacy left by Tien-Chu Ve-Tsin Mfg. Co.--the first to use that term in their product brand name. 

, uploaded by kattebelleje.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

192. Brand Stories: Tak! Tak! Tak! AJI-NO-MOTO, 1953

TAK-TAK-TAK AJI-NO-MOTO, the catchphrase was first introduced via a TV jingle in 1968

AJI-NO-MOTO has been part of the international cooking tradition for over 100 years now, and is celebrating its 60th year of presence in the Philippines. In 1908, monosodium glutamate (ve-tsin) was discovered as a flavor enhancer and it took just a year to produce it commercially under the brand AJI-NO-MOTO. It reached our shores in limited supply in 1921, carried mainly by Japanese shops in Manila.

AJI-NO-MOTO corporate ad,1956

It was only in 1953, however, that Union Merchandising Co. became the official importer and distributor of AJI-NO-MOTO in the Philippines. The company would be incorporated in 1958 and be called Union Chemicals, Inc.



History was made in 1962 when local production of AJI-NO-MOTO commenced  with the opening of the Pasig Factory with an initial capacity of 50 metric tons per month. Using local cassava starch as material, AJI-NO-MOTO was sold in small sizes of up to 1 kilo in the market, where it was favorable accepted by Filipino consumers.


Eventually, the flavor enhancer was sold in its own sprinkle bottles. Just a sprinkle can enrich the flavor of food, adding a pleasing “umami” taste, locally called “linamnam”.


The demand for AJI-NO-MOTO necessitated sales expansion to the Visayas  and Mindanao with the first provincial sales station opening in Cebu in 1964, and shortly after, in Davao. By 1969, molasses from sugar cane was used as another raw material in the manufacture of AJI-NO-MOTO. This would be used exclusively by 1976.


In 1970, in an effort to create its own packaging,  the factory inaugurated its own printing division using technology from Chiyoda Gravure. The late 60s and 70s were a period of unprecedented growth. In 1977, regional sales stations were organized, dealer promotions and professional consumer marketing were emphasized.


Memorable AJI-NO-MOTO ads included Japanese-produced materials that were dubbed in the local language, and the “Tak-Tak-Tak” jingle became a memorable anthem for the brand, a mnemonic device that simulated the tapping sound of AJI-NO-MOTO  as it is sprinkled on cooking food.


Another milestone happened in 1978 when the company moved to its head office to its own modern building along Buendia Avenue in Makati. The next year, the company was being marketed in over 100 countries, with sales of over U.S. 1.6 billion dollars worldwide.


The 80s decade began  with the inauguration of the AJI-NO-MOTO Cooking Plaza—the first  outside  of Japan--at the head office building,  to research and test new products and recipes. The company would adopt a new corporate name in 1982- Union Aji-No-Moto, Inc.—with a new office building at its Pasig factory site.


The next decades would be a period of many product innovations : AJI-NO-MOTO Ginisa Flavor Mix (1991), AJI-Toyo (1996, first liquid seasoning), AJI-Shio seasoning mix (1999). Under its new name AJI-NO-MOTO Philippines Corp., the campany launched AJI-NamNam (2003) and Crispy-Fry breading mix (2004), another Philippine bestseller.


In 2010, the new AJI-NO-MOTO brand logo was unveiled, showing the Aji-No-Moto name circumscribed in a red, yellow and green chevron symbolizing deliciousness, liveliness and earth. It adopted the corporate line “Eat well, live well”. Now on its 65th year, the company  continues to pursue its mission “ to bring happiness to every Filipino through our high quality products & services, that make every meal delicious, healthy and enjoyable.


youtube:, Aji No Moto Philippine Commercal, published by inthiscorner100 on 30 Dec. 2017.
Ajinomoto Kid TVC, uploaded by girllee2008, publihsed Dec. 8, 2008

Sunday, November 18, 2018


DUSTY FLEMING in a SUNSILK SHAMPOO with Conditioner Print Ad. 1984.

Dusty Fleming, 1970

In the mid 1980s,the name “Dusty Fleming” became a byword in the advertising circle, as this cool, hip-looking dude began appearing in SUNSILK SHAMPOO TV commercials, billed as a “Top International Film Hair Stylist”.  

Previous to this, nobody has heard of his name, much less seen his face, so it was an amusing sight to TV viewers to see  comb-wielding  Fleming  running after movie stars caught in hair-raising shooting situations, ready to untangle their hair problems.

SUNSILK was created way back in 1954, but it was inly in 1968 that it was introduced in the Philippines by Elida. En route to becoming the no. 1 hair care brand in the Philippines, a  2-in-1 shampoo with conditioner was launched in 1982. 

It took two years for  SUNSILK SHAMPOO plus Conditioner to be introduced in the Philippines, in an imported campaign that would lift the product to new heights. And the central character of the campaign was Dusty Fleming, a rock star look-alike who came into the consciousness of Filipinos as a hair expert  who promised a revolutionary brand that  “cleans and conditions…beautifully!”

At that time, Fleming was already a renowned hairstylist to the stars he regularly patronized his Beverly Hills salon on Cannon drive, His list of star clients included Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Raquel Welch, James Woods, Jessica Lange, Ringo Starr, Jeff Bridges, Natalie Wood,  Sylvester Stallone, Jon Voight,  Nick Nolte Patty Hearst, and even Patty Hearst. As a Beverly Hills’ hairdressing royalty, he was the perfect choice to endorse SUNSILK SHAMPOO 2-in-1.

The U.S.-produced commercials were aired internationally, including the Philippines. Local print ads showed Fleming with American models, but with local bottles featured.  There were two SUNSILK variants available—for fine and limp hair, and for dry and coarse hair

WATCH SUNSILK'S "Dusty Fleming-Copter" TVC Here:

WATCH SUNSILK'S "Dusty Fleming-Truck Stunt" TVC Here:

Fleming started the “hair expert” campaign that would be reincarnated in 1992, this time starring hairstylist  Oribe, and 2010, with “Co-Creations” campaign, featuring 7 of the best hair care experts of the world. SUNSILK continues to be a flagship brand for Unilever Philippines (former PRC), and is actively advertised, As for  Fleming, he still styles hair at the renown Joseph Martin Salon in Beverly Hills, today. 
youtube videos of Sunsilk's Dusty Fleming Commercials:, uploaded by Mark H., 10 May 2010, uploaded by Mark H, 10 May 2010

Monday, November 12, 2018

190. Is That Who I Think They Are? RICHARD GOMEZ and GRETCHEN BARRETTO for BIC Ballpens, 1986

RISING STARS IN THEIR OWN WRITE: Richard Gomez (age 20) & Gretchen Barretto (age 16).

To a high school student growing up in the 1970s, BIC Ballpoint Pens were a must-have lust when shopping for school supplies. The ubiquitous BIC Cristal---created in 1950 by Société Bic of Clichy, France (founded by Marcel Bich with oartner Edouard Bouffard)—was brought to the U.S. in 1959. The ballpoint pens, with tiny metal sphere tip that allowed ink to flow freely helped shift the world market for from fountain pens to ballpens.

BIC Ballpoint Pens—in Orange and Cristal--were widely available in the Philippines by the late 60s and 70s though a local distributor.  They were the dominant brand until papermate of Gillette came along. BIC was promoted on TV and print ads, with focus on product features.

In 1986 however, BIC thought it needed the help of influential celebrities, so a local ad agency created these ads using the endorsement of the two rising showbiz personalities of the day.

RICHARD GOMEZ, (b. 7 Apr. 1966) a former McDonald’s fastfood attendant and the son of 60s sex bomb Stella Suarez, was the toast of tinseltown at the start of the 90s decade. His career was masterminded by Douglas Quijano who urged producer Lily Monteverde to include the 19 year old in her movie “Inday Bote” starring Maricel Soriano. GOMEZ became a megastar in no time at all—not just as a matinee idol, but also as a A-list celebrity endorser. He would star as a sculler in the iconic 1990 commercial of Bench, a signature role he is best remembered for.

But 4 years before Bench, GOMEZ was cast as a model-endorser in a ‘chismis-sy’ BIC print ad. He was already making heads turn for his bit roles in the movies and his potentials were being recognized. By 1990,  the handsome GOMEZ was lording it over the silver screen, starring in hit movies, winning major acting awards while squiring the likes of Dawn Zulueta,  Aiko Melendez,  Sharon Cuneta, and yes, GRETCHEN BARRETTO.

GRETCHEN BARRETTO (b. 6 Mar. 1970) was launched as one of the Regal Babies in the movie “14 Going Steady”, where she also sang the film’s theme song, a radio hit. Her stock rose when she started doing sexy movies produced by Seiko Films, (“Tukso, Layuna Mo Ako”, “Paminsan-minsan”, “Ama, Bakit Mo Ako Pinabayaan?”), erasing her teenybopper image.

But that didn’t seem to faze the advertiser, BIC, as the company employed her services to star in a second BIC ad. In the next years, BARRETTO would be involved in the 1994 Metro Manila Filmfest envelope-switching scam and also with Tony Boy Cojuangco, who would give her a child, Dominique.

Photo: R.Gomez (FB Page)/ G. Barretto (
Like BIC, the two celebrities have weathered their own personal storms, RICHARD GOMEZ would find a second career as an athlete, meet his wife Lucy Torres while filming a  commercial and dabble in politics. He is currently the mayor of Ormoc, and is seeking re-election in the 2019 election.

GRETCHEN BARRETTO occasionally appears on TV, and runs her own personal charities. She and her partner are still maintaining their relationship.

Meanwhile, BIC Ballpoint Pens  today are considered as the best-selling pens in the world, with over one billion sold. Since 1993, they are distributed in the Philippines by Filstar Distributors Corp.


Monday, November 5, 2018

189. The Jingle That You Love to Hate (But Keep on Singing, Anyway!): SUNNY ORANGE, 1984


SUNNY ORANGE juice drink concentrate was introduced in the early 1980s, and everything about it appeared wrong—it came in nondescript bottles that reminded one of chemical bottles in beauty salons. 

We don’t even know the manufacturer, as its early ads did not carry the maker’s name. Its paper label seemed like it was designed by an amateur artist, and the orange color of the juice drink was too bright orange-y to be real. But it was so cheap, and apparently tasted okay (“sweet na sweet”)—so for one brief shining moment in the 80s decade, SUNNY ORANGE had its time.

The product seemed to have enough resources for it to be plugged live in the shows of Master Showman German Moreno who featured unknown, but promising talents. But it was the jingle that ingrained SUNNY ORANGE into our national consciousness, inspite of and despite of its bad lyrics, bad singing, bad phrasing, and bad recording. 

The melody was so simple, even a child can pick it up and sing it in minutes. Then, there was the homespun quality to the way the jingle was sung, complete with the singer’s bad diction (she seemed to have overdubbed the harmony as well to save on cost).


SUNNY ORANGE DRINK is long gone, and only the jingle’s tune remains in the memories of Filipino TV viewers who grew up in the 80s, remembered in the same breadth as “YC Bikini Brief” and “Seiko Wallet”. To rephrase a famous line:  Good melody or bad melody---it still is publicity!

Sunny Orange – With Lyrics, uploaded by art carr, published Aug. 22, 2010.