Wednesday, January 30, 2019

205. Brand Names that Became Everyday Pinoy Words #6: JACUZZI

JACUZZI PUMP AD. 1959. The water pumps were distributed by Shriro Phils. Inc.

In the 70s and 80s, “JACUZZI” became a word associated with the lifestyles of the rich and famous in the Philippines.  To have a hot tub with whirlpool and bubble in one’s spacious bath was a status symbol, and soon, every rich and nouveau riche seemed to want one for their home. 

Soon, the term JACUZZI came to be associated  with hot tubs and whirlpool jetted bath, regardless of the maker.

JACUZZI has a long history that began with a company founded by the Italian Jacuzzi brothers who emigrated to the U.S. Settling in California, they began manufactured  aviation parts like propellers in 1915,  and later, cabin planes. They also toyed with designing water pumps, which they would also manufacture.

Exported worldwide, they became a huge success. These pumps became available in the Philippines by 1959, exclusively distributed by Shriro (Philippines) Inc. 
PUMP UP THE VOLUME. Jacuzzi water pump, from "History of Jacuzzi"
The pumps would  further be developed into the hydrotherapy pump in 1956. It was created to ease a family member’s  arthritis pain. The J-300, a portable pump that could be installed in bath tubs, was sold to hospitals and schools. The hydromassage one could get was soothing and relaxing. The next step was to manufacture these for the home, a JACUZZI family spa. The idea took off and the rest is history.  
JACUZZI today, is a registered trademark of Jacuzzi Inc. as of September 5, 1978. But the name JACUZZI has stuck;  in the minds of Filipinos—and in many parts of the world— any hot tub with massaging jets of water no matter who the maker is-- is called a JACUZZI!

History of Jacuzzi:

Thursday, January 24, 2019



TV situation comedy shows rose in popularity in the 1970s, and spawned many characters that were loved, adored and worshipped, even if they were fictional figures created by imaginative television creatives. Advertising agencies realized the pulling power of these sitcoms and the believable characters that animated them, and before long, these sitcom personas, began appearing in print ads to endorse products and push services.

JOHN EN MARSHA for LIBBYS’ (1975) and IMARFLEX (1987)


 “JOHN EN MARSHA” was a hugely-popular TV sitcom that ran for over 16 years (1973-1990) on RPN Channel 9. The sitcom starred no less than the King of Comedy, Dolphy as the impoverished John Puruntong, with Nida Blanca as his wife, Marsha Jones, who comes from a family of means. Mother-in-law Doñya Delilah (Dely Atay-Atayan). is the foil who often provides the conflict, berating John no end for his lack of drive when things go awry (“Kaya ikaw John, magsumikap ka…). The Puruntong children were played by Rolly Quizon and Maricel Soriano as the young Shirley. Matutina played Doña Delilah’s side kick.
MATUTINA & SHIRLEY PURUNTONG for Libby's Pork & Beans, 1975

The JOHN EN MARSHA characters appeared in a few ads, and the earliest from 1975 featured Matutina (Evelyn Bontogon, in real life) and Shirley (Maricel Soriano, for LIBBY’S PORK & BEANS.Libis is di Bis!” became the brand’s battlecry which caught on wit the public. Maricel Soriano would grow into a fine, award-winning TV & movie actress, and is dubbed as the “Diamond Star” for her achievements.

MARSHA, DELILAH, AND MATUTINA, for 3-D Turbo  Iron 1987

A decade later,  JOHN EN MARSHA characters (Marsha, Doña Delilah and Matutina) were tapped to promote IMARFLEX Turbo Cordless Iron in print ads that ran in women;s magazines in 1987.



Freddie Webb was Jimmy Capistrano to Noval Villa’s Ines, who portrayed his wife in this zany 1984 sit-com called CHICKS TO CHICKS.Aired every Wednesday on Channel 13, CHICKS TO CHICKS traces the hilarious goings-on in the Capistrano house that counts sexy belles like Carmi Martin, Ruby Anna, Maria Teresa Carlson, Bong Dimayacyac and Lorraine Schuck as co-residents. Chiqui (played by Chito Arceo) was the testosterone-driven brother of Ines. In 1987, it moved to Channel 2 (ABS-CBN) and retitled Chika-Chika-Chicks.

THE CAPISTRANOS (Freddie Webb & Nova Villa) of CHICKS TO CHICKS, 1984

The Capistranos, Freddie and Nova,  were the featured endorsers for LIGO Sardines, in this print ad that came out in the 80s.



The revolutionary comedy show that did not sit too well with the Marcos administration, began in 1980 as CHAMPOY. The gag show often featured politically-inspired characters and sketches, performed by Subas Herrero,Noel Trinidad, Tessie Tomas, and featuring Mitch Valdez. Aired on RPN Channel 9, CHAMPOY’s popular segments included “Mr. Boom-Boom”, “Walang Sisihan”and Tessie Tomas’ impersonations—including Meldita, a parody of Imelda Marcos.


On its first year, CHAMPOY bagged its first endorsement for 3-D products. This print ad, which is part of a series is for 3-D Debonaire Fan models.

DOLPHY`S BEST JOHN AND MARSHA FUNNY VIDEOS, uploaded by JBDONJ De Leon, Published on Nov 19, 2016,

Chicks to Chicks (April 16, 1980 full episode), uploaded by inthiscorner100

CHAMPOY Theme Song - Subas Herrero and Noel Trinidad, uploaded by
Jennychicolini, Published on Jan 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2019

203. What’s Wrong With This Ad? HITACHI REF Print Ad, 1981

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS AD? Poor grammar turned this HITACHI ad into a flop. 1981.

Writing for advertising involves writing for effect, so it is expected that rules of grammar are intentionally not observed—like starting a headline with a conjunction, splitting infinitive, and removing punctuations. But obviously, the copy for this HITACHI REFRIGERATOR  print ad was not done for that purpose. Clearly, it was just written poorly, and the result is a very awkward headline.

In an attempt to draw parallelisms between the beauty of a woman, a rose and a ref, the copywriter wrote: “Two beautiful things, A Rose and a Ref, things that make women have something in common.”
HITACHI  AD This ad had a billboard version in Greenhills, which had the same mistake,

Oops, say that again?
We sort of get the drift that the copywriter wanted to convey: that beauty is something that women have in common—which can be had by having a beautiful rose—and a beautiful refrigerator, in this case, HITACHI. The body copy is similarly mushy and wordy. Crafting this multi-message thought in a one sentence headline proved to be a challenge for the copywriter.

Apparently, someone took note of the headline’s wrong grammar that the ad was hastily pulled out and revised. The rewritten headline now read: “ Two beautiful things…A Rose and a Ref, things that women have in common”.

THE AD CORRECTED a few issues later. Note the shorter headline that has
been grammatically fixed.
 The addition of ellipsis (…)  to separate the thoughts, and the straightening of the wrong grammar in the next line were the quick fixes done by the copywriter (or perhaps,  her creative boss) on the headline.  The body copy has also been streamlined, and made more concise. Better, but, oh be the judge.

THE CORRECTED HITACHI AD, clearer but is it better?

Here is a saying that goes: “A lawyer’s mistakes are in jail, a judge’s mistakes are in the cemetery, but a copywriter’s mistakes are shown on TV every night”. So copywriters, be warned.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

202. Asia’s Sprint Queen LYDIA DE VEGA, for ALASKA (1989) and MILO (1990s)

LYDIA DE VEGA, Asis's Sprint Queen, At her peak, she won 2 Asian Games
Gold medals, won 3 SEA games Gold,  qualified in 2 Olympics, and made a movie.

Lydia de Vega (b. 12 Dec. 1964), the glamor girl of 1980s Philippine sports, was the perfect endorser of two dairy brands in the late 1980 and early 1990s, in what was known as the golden age of Philippine athletics.

The fleet-footed Bulakenya, home trained by her father, made her presence felt at the 1981 Manila Southeast Asian (SEA) when she bagged Gold in the 200 and 400 meter events exceeding records set at the Asian Games.

It came as no surprise that at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, she won the premiere 100 m. dash, besting local star P.T. Usha. As if to prove that her win was not a fluke, she won another Asiad Gold at the next 1986 Asian Games in Seoul. She would also participate in 2 Summer Olympics: Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988). Throughout her stellar running career, she was dubbed as “Asia’s Sprint Queen”.


A year after her Seoul Olympics stint, de Vega took a 2 year break from athletics to get married, continue her studies and rest. She also finally found time to respond to endorsement deals, and in 1989, she was signed up ALASKA POWDERED MILK to do its milk campaign.

Alaska, the company, started in 1972 as Holland Milk Products, Inc. which first made liquid milk. It eventually expanded to manufacture powdered milk and UHT milk. ALASKA POWDERED MILK was launched in 1989, in a new campaign starred by de Vega. “Bring out a winner” was the thematic line, still anchored on its familiar “wala pa ring tatalo sa Alaska” omnibus slogan.


Not long after that, after her contract with Alaska lapsed, Nestlé Philippines employed her as a presenter for their “Get your child into sports” public relations program, sponsored by their chocolate and malt beverage, MILO. 

courtesy of Filipino Athlete, uploaded 29 Dec. 2017

The product began in 1964, ad derived its name from the  Greek mythological character Milo, famed for his strength. MILO has been using sports as its selling platform, and for years, latched on to its “Olympic energy theme”. It was also known for its sports clinics, marathons, and little Olympics.

 Vega retired after competing at the 1994 Manila-Fujian Games where she bagged her final 100 meter Gold. She briefly forayed into politics and served as a councilor of Meycauayan town.

LYDIA DE VEGA, THEN & NOW. Source: India Today Magazine,
News ABS-CBN Sports

Since Dec. 2005, De Vega has been staying in Singapore where she coaches young collegiate athletes. Married to engineer Paul Mercado, she is a mother to Stephanie, a DLSU Lady Spikers and John Michael who tragically died in a 200 freak vehicle accident at age 4. On 22 November 2018, De Vega was inducted into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame at the Philippine International Convention Center.

youtube: Lydia De vega MILO advert from the 90s, by Filipino Athlete, Published on Dec 29, 2017.
Image: Lydia de Vega in New Delhi:
Image: Lydia de vega, 2018 Hall of Fame

Monday, January 7, 2019

201. Brand Stories: TIGER BALM, Relief in Every Rub, 1870s


One of the most famous heritage brands from Asia is a special ointment for all kinds of aches and pains—TIGER BALM. The salve comes in small hexagonal bottles and circular tin containers with a leaping tiger icon that has been in use for over a century, attaining worldwide recognition and prominence.

A NEW TIGER BALM JAR, between 2 vintage Tiger Balm products,

TIGER BALM’s romantic origins began in the court of Chinese emperors where Chinese herbalist Aw Chu Kin was employed. In the late 1870s, he decided to leave his homeland and move to Rangoon (Burma, now Myanmar) where he opened a medicine shop and called it Eng Aun Tong (Medical Hall) .  It was here that he concocted an ointment for body aches and pains, a product that would soon make his business successful.

Upon his death in 1908, his sons Aw Boon Haw (a name that means “gentle tiger”) and Aw Boon Par (“gentle leopard”) took over the burgeoning business and set up operations in Singapore. It was Aw Boon Haw who branded the product “TIGER BALM” in 1924 after his name. he was also the marketing genius behind its success, and the product eventually found its way to China and other Southeast Asian countries like Siam (Thailand), Batavia (Indonesia), Malaya (Malaysia),Hong Kong and the Philippines.


By the late 1920s, TIGER BALM was already available in local boticas and farmacias, with Binondo-based Ki Lin Tong Lim Tong Te as its sole distributor. It was also extensively advertised all through the 1920s-30s in leading magazines and newspapers of the day.
1929 TIGER BALM, Philippine ad.

1929 TIGER BALM, Philippine ad.

The product was most popular among the Chinese communities around the world, and the business was a a huge success, turning the brothers into rich tycoons. 

1929 TIGER BALM, Philippine ad.

They engaged in philanthropic works, donating money to charities, schools and newspapers in their adopted countries. Boon Par not only built mansions, Singapore, Hong Kong and Fujian, but also a theme park--the TIGER BALM Gardens.


After the brothers died (Boon Par in 1944 and Boon Haw in 1954), the TIGER BALM business remained in quandary.  It was soon  taken over by British conglomerate Slater Walker in 1969. But when the company was plagued with financial crisis, Singaporean banker Dr Wee Cho Yaw gained control of the business in 1981 and began rebuilding the company and, eventually the brand, TIGER BALM.

Today, TIGER BALM is a flourishing brand available worldwide, distributed in countries such as Brazil (Pomada del Tigre), Scandinavian countries (Tiger Balsam), France (Baume du Tigre), Spain (Balsamo Tigre), Saudia Arabia and the U.S. where it was positioned as a sport balm. TIGER BALM is readily available in the Philippines, as t has been since the 1920s, in leading drugstores and Chinese specialty shops.


The story of 100 years of business & legacy of 'Tiger Balm' - YourStory:
Tiger Balm website: