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Friday, August 13, 2004

Budjette Tan e-mailed me this story he wrote for Emily Abrera, the chairman emeritus of their ad agency. I'm sure anyone who's working or ever worked in an advertising agency will get a kick out of this...


The scene opens in the creatives‚ brainstorm room.

It is 2:43 in the morning. The art director and the copywriter have gotten all too familiar with the four corners of that little room.

The copywriter pushes aside the empty boxes of pizza and finds the creative brief.

He reads the advertising objective: TO INSPIRE NATIONALISM IN THE FILIPINO PEOPLE.

Desired consumer response: I AM PROUD TO BE PINOY.

The copywriter takes a long, slow drag from his cigarette and finally says: EH KUNG GUMAWA TAYO NG SUPER HERO?

The art director wakes up. A super hero? A SUPER HERO!!!

They begin to sketch and doodle.

Our hero should be gwaping, should look very Pinoy... not tisoy. Yeah! Kayummangi! But with a nice nose, grew up in the province, schooled in the city, his parents were farmers... who were killed by rebels... And then he saves an old man... An old woman... A diwata! Who gives him an anting anting ... A sword... A gun ... Bullet proof bracelets... He can fly... He's invulnerable.... He's as strong as a hundred men... And we shall call him...


At which point the creative director stumbles in and asks what they have.

They tell her everything up until the part of the UMMM, UMMM, UMMM

So what's his name? Asks the CD.

How about CAPTAIN ALAMAT?! Says the copywriter

The CD shakes her head. No... How about KAPITAN ALAMAT! That's Kapitan with a K!

I like it! says the art director.

The copywriter grumbles and lights another cigarette.

So, they present their idea to client, the powers that be, they who really run the country.

Client buys into the idea: to fund the creation and launch of the Philippines first full-fledged super-hero, but...

But they have a limited budget, says the AE. They can only afford to give him flight, strength, and invulnerability. If we give him heat vision or any other sort of vision we‚ll have to make him 50% invulnerable. And he can only be as strong as a 7.5 men.

How can he be 50% invulnerable? Asks the CD. Oh ok... no super vision.

The AE turns to the art director and says, And client wants to have the color green on the costume.

Green?! Asks the AD.

To symbolize nature. Answers the AE.

AD: His main color motif is red! If you make his cape green he'll look like a Christmas mantle.

AE: But client is a big nature lover. He wants green.

Ok, says the art director. Maybe the trimmings of the cape can be green.

And so they cast for their hero and organize his activation... HIS BIG LAUNCH!

Agency arranges for a major mall to be held hostage by terrorists during a midnight sale and that's where the hero makes his debut!

KAPITAN ALAMAT defeats the terrorists! And he's a big hit!

They hold a press con where KAPITAN ALAMAT will say his tagline-- his call to action for the Filipino people.

In the control booth, the copywriter awaits for the hero to say his copy. It‚s only three words long but said the right way it will be as powerful and popular as the tagline JUST DO IT.

So the hero goes up to the mike and says... words that are nowhere near what the copywriter wrote.

The copywriter almost chokes on his cigarette. What happened to my words! My precious words!

The AE looks up from the Contact Report and says, Um, client had it changed at the last minute. You were out for a smoke, so I wrote it. hehhehehe

At that point, the copywriter quit smoking.

Agency arranged for more activation events. They made the hero fight...
cellphone snatchers

All of which was covered by media.

But after all that, the hero's popularity rating began to dip.

So, they made him go after the NPA, the Abu Sayyaf, and even Tim Yap. There was a slight spike in his rating, but it began to dip again.

What was wrong with their campaign?

While chewing on a lollipop stick, the copywriter blurts out: EH KUNG BIGYAN NATIN SIYA NG KALABAN!

An arch enemy! An adversary! A competitor!

So they doodle and sketch and cast and get approval from client for a super-villain with heat vision, super breath, and sparklingly white teeth.

Activation was set to coincide with the EDSA celebration.

According to the script (which the copywriter made sure had not been changed) the villain will attack the hero during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new fly-over.

According to the script, the villain will hit the hero ten times; after which the hero will recover and defeat the villain in front of the cameras.

And after getting hit ten times, the hero gets hit ten more times. 20! 30! A hundred times more!

That's not in the script! Yells the copywriter!

AE looks up from the Contact Report and says, That's not in the Contact Report!

What they didn't know was the guy they cast for the role of the villain was the fall-back talent for the hero and he really, really wanted that role and was really, really mad that he didn't get it.

And in front of the cameras and the entire Filipino nation, the villain kills the hero with his heat vision, rips off the logo from the hero's chest and puts it on his chest.

At which point the entire crowd on EDSA starts to rally against the villain. The villain --disappointed that his adoring public does not like him-- flies away and becomes a governor somewhere in the province.

In the weeks that followed, media bombards us with images of the fallen Katipan and that's when the hero's popularity rating begins to skyrocket.

The copywriter throws away his lollipop and says "Well, there you go-- the campaign is a success."

A new creative brief comes in, a new job order, and the team goes back to brainstorm.

It is 2:44 in the morning.

The art director and the copywriter have gotten all too familiar with the four corners of that little room.

The copywriter takes a long, slow drag from his cigarette and finally says: EH KUNG GUMAWA TAYO NG BABAE NA SUPER HERO?