Sunday, May 25, 2014

jimmy's vinyl

When Jimmy Fallon invited Neil Young to promote his new album on The Tonight Show, they replicated some of the recording process that Neil used for the show. Neil used this recording phone booth that creates one copy of the performance on vinyl. One analog copy that can only be played on one kind of analog device. Classic.

In the digital age where a couple of keyboard strokes can duplicate something instantaneously, will there be a movement toward these kinds of one-copy-only exclusives?


Adam and Blake tweet furiously during The Voice Instant Save window.

Last season The Voice introduced the "Instant Save". During results episodes when the bottom three contestants are announced, Carson tells viewers that they have the last remaining minutes of the show to tweet to save their favorite artist. As long as they use the #VoiceSave hashtag with the name of their favorite contestant, their voite will be counted toward that artist.

Sidebar: The first thing I wondered when Carson first announced the Instant Save was what listening software they're using. Then I figured that they are probably working with Twitter directly to get such real-time and accurate results. Really, the window only lasts ten minutes and they announce the winner in the final seconds before the show ends. The lesson - Don't bother with a listening software for hashtag tracing and just get in bed with Twitter directly?

This makes me wonder if the economics of the show are shifting. When American Idol premiered many, many seasons ago they depended only on SMS and call-in votes, telco-driven transactions. Later on they expanded to online voting. When I started watching The Voice a few seasons I go I noticed that they include iTunes song downloads of the contestants' performances in voting counts.

Either way, what does the new Instant Save drive? Are they giving up millions in potential SMS revenue? Or are they telling us that consistent viewer engagement has a bigger value now? Something to think about.

mad life crosses my life

Mad Men hasn't always painted an accurate picture of the agency world. Of course that isn't all the show is about. But once in awhile they reference something that is poignantly true to ad life.

I've lagged in the last year and a half and am only now catching up on Seasons 6. Car brands have been a focus since the fifth season, and an industry tennet was established - that you aren't a bona fide ad shop until you have a car brand. When they launched anew in season five, Sterling Cooper Draper Price struggled to build a stable client roster. Finding a car brand seemed to be a quick strategy to establishing their foothold on Madison Avenue. They are given the opportunity to pitch for Jaguar and go to rather extreme lengths to secure the account. They end up (minor spoiler) retiring them this season and are almost immediately given the opportunity to go after a massive and truly iconic American car brand - Chevy.
In Episode 6.7 Don and his team walk through the GM offices ready to present work. In that moment Don's TV life crosses my advertising life squarely. There are heritage brands that are woven into our industry's heritage and I'm proud to have had my fingertips on one baton even just for awhile. 

(Season Seven paints a painfully brusque, goonish picture of the clients, which I hope / I'm sure is an exaggeration, but that makes for painfully good TV.)  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Get Lucky

I won something! I got word late last year that I had been nominated for Mansmith's annual Young Marketing Masters award. After a few rounds of judging I found out I had been selected as one of nine awardees. For the award ceremony, each of us were asked to prepare a thank you speech that talked also about lessons learned. Here's was mine:

The one thing I’ve learned in my career is to get lucky.
I know Han Solo said “There’s no such thing as luck.”
But we can get lucky.

Getting lucky doesn’t mean waiting around for something great to happen.
It means searching to find that one thing you love to do – or at least something you enjoy,
enough to do it for 8 hours a day, or in our case in advertising, 10-16 hours! a day, and sometimes weekends, too.
It means knocking on doors, not giving up when people say no because you have no advertising experience, and trying until someone takes you in and gives you a shot.

Get lucky –
means always reading and constantly studying,
keeping up with what’s going on in our industry that changes so fast, to develop a gut feel for what’s up next.
And coming across things like digital and riding on, thinking that might be what’s up next.  
It means being ok with experimenting and failing, even when as the digital person nobody knows where you fit in the organization and you end up with seven bosses in three years because there’s never been a Digital Account person or a Digital Planner in the agency before.

Get lucky –
means finding like-minded teammates who also really enjoy the nerdy advertising challenge of identifying marketing issues and insights,
and who will spar with you to help you find the answer to the tough brief that was due yesterday – because everything was always due yesterday!,
Finding the dream digital team who will miss meals, dates, sleep, to get our best work out the door,
who always invite you for a drink when you’re stressed out,
and who also toast with you to the things that have gone brilliantly.
It means finding amazing mentors who teach, who coach, who say no, who shout yes.

Get lucky –
means getting older and getting to become a leader and hopefully getting to pass something on to the next generation whose turn it is to have no experience yet in advertising.
It means expanding horizons to be able to find the best new challenges, and coming to grips with getting out of your comfort zone to take them on because sometimes they turn out to be across the sea.

It means staying close to the awesome parents who told you it was ok, and that you should, do what you love – I was and have been very, very lucky.

Thank you again! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

MRM has PH's top viewed locally-produced ad

YouTube Philippines released its list of top viewed ads in 2013. MRM topped the list with the highest-viewed local ad. Creative did a fantastic job on this video, which was one of Beau's last projects before we left MRM. It was produced specifically for digital, which allowed them to come up with longer material. Also on the list is our work for Alpo (#7), which El and I worked on. Good showing by Team MRM!

Top 10 most popular ads in the country:
1. Dove Real Beauty Sketches

2. Ramon Bautista vs. Parokya ni Edgar (Nescafe PH)

3. Ely Buendia, Rico Blanco, Raimund Marasigan and Barbie Almalbis collaborate (smartcorporate) 
4. Iya Shines (Pantene Philippines) 
5. Four Seasons Tang-Go with Ryzza! (Tang MNL) 
6. Ramon Bautista, SmartNet Da Moves (smartcorporate) 

7. Toffee’s Best Dog Bath Ever (Nestle Purina PH)

8. Introducing Samsung Galaxy S4 (Samsung Mobile)
9. Labels Against Women (Pantene Philippines)
10. Jessy Mendiola surprises Teng Brothers (McDonald’s PH)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Brand Philippines

When It's More Fun in the Philippines was launched I especially liked the engagement strategy that got us involved in punning up with copy. I feel like "fun" is too general a claim even for the supposed happiest people in the world, but I appreciate it now that I've seen the campaign in my work and travels abroad. It has won effectiveness awards and was certainly successful at increasing the number of visitors to the country.

It was a fantastic effort, but I’ve always had a discomfort about the campaign. I’ve been mulling this over and trying to figure out why since the it launched and now I think I know what I dislike about it. My discomfort is not about the campaign, but about the brief. It is a great tourism push, but it doesn’t address the root of what I think is a bigger issue. Getting people here is not the only job that needs to be done.

What is Brand Philippines?

It's More Fun in the Philippines is a great invitation, but we also need to define our nation's brand that sums up our best qualities and offerings. Which is where It’s More Fun… falls short. Not that it was meant for this (I think). But we should be able to formulate a proposition about who we are. And we aren't just fun. We have a caring and healing touch, brought all over the world by our overseas workers. We are fluent in the global tongue, and other countries come here to learn it. Those are unique to us. We have an insatiable appetite for art and music. We make killer roast pig. We are the most engaged social participants.

Unfortunately perception of us may not even include these positives. We have a lot of baggage. In media studies in college we were told about a thesis that studied the search engine results of the keyword “Filipino”, which at the time returned mostly results for mail order bride websites. Some people may not even know we exist. I would have thought there would be at least a baseline awareness, especially to Americans who occupied the Philippines and had bases here until the nineties, but I've met several who embarrassedly, politely ask me to remind them what place I'm talking about when I tell them where I'm from. What do they think of Manny Pacquiao and how does that cast a light on how others see our country? Or what did the recent Yolanda relief efforts tell them about who we are?

The art of persuasion

I first started thinking about this when I discovered Monocle's Soft Power Survey in 2012. It was the first time I'd heard the term "soft power", defined as "the ability of one state to change the behavior of others through the means of attraction and persuasion, rather than coercion or payment". In the article the magazine names things like pop music, film exports, cultural initiatves, local brands that have gone global, etc. as contributors to soft power. Last year the UK was at the top of the list for football leagues and Olympic hosting coverage. USA was #2 with "Call Me Maybe" cited along with the "global reach of [their] entertainment industry", sports stars and their lead in foreign aid. Sweden ranked at #5 with mentions of Ikea and Steig Larsson. South Korea went up in the rankings (#11) thanks to PSY and the rise of K-pop. Mexico was a new entrant, with renewed interest its cuisine cited.

How now? An approach

This made me think about the approach to branding and managing Brand Philippines to the international community. It sounds like a typical ad agency brief, but the end result wouldn’t be communication materials. What if we could systematically expose international audiences to the best of our culture? Here’s my idea for how this should be rolled out.

First, our Brand would need to be defined. (I won’t even begin to get into this, but if anybody influential ever reads this, FYI, I know a team of brand strategists who would be perfect for the job.) This would ensure that all initiatives add up to establishing our one brand.

Then we would create a Brand Experience Program, to be launched in each key local market. The important thing would be more about activation than just exports. I have two ideas for initial elements.

Food & Alcohol. Cuisine is a way to immediately gain appreciation for a new culture. Filipino food is gaining popularity in the States, which would be an ideal place to start. Could we do lechon cookout pop-ups? A pan de sal café? San Miguel nights? One great example:

Our greatest export, People. With all our OFWs as scattered around the globe we have ambassadors all over the world to spread our values and culture. With our domestic helpers and teachers my mom says that Filipinos are helping to raise the world’s children. Should there be a briefing to help all overseas workers understand their collective influence on how people see our people, culture and country?

Music, Comics, Fashion, Art... initiatives are endless.

Lastly Brand Managers would need to be deployed in our most important target markets. They would execute and contribute ideas about Brand Experiences, and making sure that any tourism efforts deployed are in line with the new branding. They would also be in charge of keeping tabs on how their local markets see and think of the Philippines. 

Engineering perception

We have been getting bigger representation in global media but is all this exposure adding up to positive perception about us? With increased travel routes and budget flight options more Filipinos are travelling to other countries. How do others perceive us as we head out into the world?

This approach would hopefully get foreigners aware of our country and contribute to the push to get more people to come visit. But the end result could be a more specific, positive perception of us that would get foreigners to look at us kindly and welcome us when we travel and work abroad. They might understand us better and be even quicker to help when we need global outreach. Maybe they’d even be more willing to business with us.

This becomes more and more important not just to get people to come over but as we increasingly become global citizens.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Creating a share-able space

Location: W Hotel, Bangkok

I was excited to come but there is a lot I dislike about this hotel room. The shower door doesn’t close completely (a major pet peeve). Air-conditioning can only be adjusted with a tablet app, and when you digitally adjust the temperature or fan speed it takes several minutes to sync with the actual air-conditioning unit. The same app controls all the lights in the room (except for bedside lamps and bathroom mirror). I accidentally unplugged the tablet in the middle of the night so it was dead when I woke up and I couldn’t turn the bedroom lights on until it recharged. There is a draft pointed right at the desk. Despite its loud, youthful vibe the hotel charges extra for internet access!

Bed and service have been excellent so far but generally, this hotel is too over-the-top and there are lot of things that turn me off of the room. But despite my negative reaction (that I haven’t had about any of the other three hotels I’ve stayed at this year), I’ve posted several photos about the W. Shortcomings aside, this room was made to be shared.

On the bed are a pair of ginormous gold-sequined muay thai gloves that read “lights” and “out”. The minibar holds a tray of childhood favorite candy, instead of the usual overpriced peanuts and chips. The alcohol tray comes with martini glasses and a shaker in case you want to mix your own cocktails. Cute signs are all over the room. Water bottles are captioned with a “Drink Up” sign. The extra toilet paper roll is encased in a bag labelled “Backup Plan”. The directory and room service menu is entitled “Everything You Want To Know.” Breakfast was served on a bright purple tray. You control the room with an app!

The taste level in this room can only be described as questionable (diamond sculptures and etchings on the wall?) and there are many UX limitations, but this W room is chockfull of iconic elements.

This should be a consideration in any space, product design and activation. What are people going to capture and share? What will be the subject of Instagrams and tweets? If I were a restauranteur I’d design table lighting to ensure that food will look delectable online, no matter how good/bad it actually tastes. I’d like to call these, at least for now…

Monday, November 11, 2013

Haiyan & Yolanda

This time news broke several days before the typhoon hit. This should have given us time to evacuate and minimize casualties. But as reports and Facebook posts came in about the super storm making its way to the Philippines I had the sinking feeling that the early warning wouldn't make a difference.

This is the photograph that really got me. I didn't doubt that each one of these guys would row, swim, save unconditionally. When push comes to shove that's who the Filipino is - self set aside, unconditional love for the random guy in the water. I don't doubt that for a second. But intent and effort aside, I couldn't be sure of their ability to systematically be effective. Who trained these guys? What process are they going to follow? I remember stories about how, in rescue missions during Hurricane Katrina, officers who had never even met before could work together as a team because they had received the same training. I am pretty sure that our guys, despite the same dedication and probably even more intense selfelessness, have never received any such training.

This is why, even if we've gotten hit by more than fifteen storms this year, as it happens every year, all hell breaks loose when disaster strikes. Despite the fact that typhoons are a yearly, monthly occurrence, there is no routine to aid, let alone prevent. Equally disturbing are the photographs of people trying to fortify their homes or secure property. This is all they can do - nobody has given them better alternatives. This time the warning came early. But an amber alert wouldn't be of much use in the Philippines. Nobody knows what to do.

Some people say that most cities were able to take precautonary measures. But what I'm talking about is a studied, researched, proven method to minimize damage. Tokyo, one of the most earthquake-prone cities, has engineered all of its buildings to be able to withstand most minor quakes. I don't know when we will ever have such a systematic response.

The images and footage of the 'apocalyptic" aftermath are devastating and heartbreaking. We can't prevent natural disasters and it is inevitable that there will be catastrophes so terrible that even a first-world country wouldn't be able to side step it. But I dream that one day we can put processes and measures in place to systematically mitigate and minimize disaster. I don't quite know what the individual response is to get there. But this should be something we can work through together.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

new scenery

There's no way I could have predicted what was going to happen this year, the end of an era. When I look back the good times stand out, but there were things I needed to move on from and grow out of. After a few years discontent had started to seep into the everyday. There were always great challenges, inspiring mentors, awesome teammates. There was also more corporate haberdashery than I would like to have witnessed, the general advertising burnout, and the wear and tear that comes with building something new. The good times stand out the most.

It all came to a head this year, finally time for a break. On my last day I wanted to post as that I had ended my longest relationship - 6.5 years with M.E.

Who would have guessed that I would be re-adopted, this time by the mother ship. They took me to Singapore, Indonesia and Tokyo, but where I ended up was here in Shanghai.

From team lead to solo flight, from one market to fifteen, from internals to conference calls. From creatives just desks away to creatives miles and plane rides away. From my all-Pinoy AEs to the United Colors of Benetton account team. From beverages to cars, from the D to the R. From comfort zone to the great unknown.

Ni hao.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The next marketing supercontinent

The Pangea Theory tells us that all land used to be consolidated in one giant mass. Over centuries different pieces broke off and shifted into what are now the disparate continents. Some scientists believe that in time all land could join back up and form a sort of Pangea 2.0, or supercontinent.

The same trend seems to be happening in advertising.

As media behavior evolved into disparate channels so did agency offerings - digital, CRM, activation, PR disbundled from traditional creative and were, in many multinational cases, given their own brand or company names. But as clients discovered new agencies in each discipline they began to split billings and revenues.

This has become a critical issue for mainstream agencies, as marketing budgets are slowly but surely shifting to digital and other non-traditional channels. In certain categories (B2B ones for example) it is possible to skip TV altogether and focus completely on digital and PR. As non-traditional momentum grows, agencies must watch the back door and ensure that budgets are secure even if priorities shift out of ATL channels.

The answer seems to be the industry's latest buzzword: Integration. 

This idea is not new. Media agencies and marketing plans have been "360" for several decades. Our discipline itself is often called Integrated Marketing Communications. Several marketing books, including one I recently revisited, talked about Integration of mainstream advertising with digital as early as in 2003. Yet in the Philippines and even across Asia, silos are still the norm.

It seems inevitable that agency offerings will shift to accommodate the entire consumer journey in order to retain end-to-end client business. Is the next wave of ad agency organizational development going to lead us to Marketing Pangea 2.0?

As this happens agencies must figure out as a starting point -What exactly must be integrated?

Three potential models:
  • PEOPLE:  Everybody in the agency (planning, account, creative) knows enough about each discipline to be able to do the work for any channel.
    My take: Not realistic - are there enough people like this to fill an agency?
  • PROCESS:  Different disciplines, different specialists, who work all together, all the time, on every project, to collaboratively create complementary pieces of the final output.
    My take: Maybe not the most efficient model.
  • PRODUCT:  May be led by any discipline but output represents a holistic consumer experience, ideally moving beyond "same idea across touchpoints" to pre-idea vector planning.
    My take: My preference. Probably because I'm specialist-biased. More on this in another entry because it would take an entire other entry.
It will be exciting to track these developments and see what exactly the advertising integrated supercontinent will shape up to become. The game is changing and the agency that figures this out first could end up winner of the Integration land rush. And who's to say this won't end up a non-traditional agency?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Whose line is it anyway?

Turns out, the Line belongs to the CFO.

The ad industry still refers to media as "above-" or "below-the-line". But what are these terms based on? Is it media types, with certain channels forever tagged as "above" and others "below"? Or is it based on media usage, delineating between which channels are "traditional" and "non-traditional"?

It turns out that the origin of the advertising "line" belongs to finance, and separates the services that generated profit from those given away for free. The birth of advertising agencies began with media agencies that made huge commissions on placement buys. In time they started offering creative services to assist clients in coming up with content to fill up their bought ad space. The commissions used to be so substantial that agencies eventually gave away an entire slew of support services - PR, Direct marketing, etc. (Source: "The Future of Advertising". Joe Cappo. 2003.) 

Evolution of the line... Where did it go?

It was a surprise to discover this piece of advertising history as the industry seems to have arrived at a shared understanding of the terms, using them to refer to traditional or non-traditional media. But the profitability angle sheds light on why those characterized as "below-the-line" media have carried a stigma for being less important, more by-the-way and more tactical. The result has been the continued prioritization of ATL in the development process, almost always strategized and conceptualized before BTL guys ever get a crack at a client brief. (As if business problems are so single-minded that only one vector should represent the lion's share of a marketing solution.) As it often happens for us in digital, briefings are often cascades of the thinking and ideation that ATL guys have already done. The first thing that is developed is the TV spot, after which the "big idea" can be carried over into other mediums.

Developing campaigns and starting with an ATL-geared approach may have been all right in the mass media age where the single-minded ad message was enough to drive any and all campaigns. But with the fragmentation of viewers and proliferation of channels, messages (while still very, very important) are no longer enough to drive good advertising. Additional thinking must be done to figure out the roles channels play vs. each other so that they can be most relevant in a brand or advertising ecosystem.

Today people say marketing must be "through the line", which is perhaps correct as agencies now collect fees on all services rendered. But maybe the line has completely disappeared, not in its original sense of fees and profit but based on the more recent need to have to call out which media is the most traditional or essential. What should matter is to be able to understand how channels mix, the roles they play complementary to each other, and how to use and strategize the use of each medium in a context-relevant way.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Madison moment

It was a hot summer afternoon and I was excited just by being in New York for the first time. The city has this buzzy energy that was reverberating through me - from the noisy subway underground, the crowded newsstands and halal stalls on every corner, the busy people crossing as soon as the last car had passed even before the light turned green.

I found myself on Madison Avenue, famed as the birthplace of the modern ad agency. It was disappointing to discover that none of the big agencies hold office there anymore, but walking the street still gave me a little thrill.

I noticed a pair walking toward me, he in a sharp navy suit and hornrimmed glasses, her hair coiffed in a wavy updo matching her ruby red lips. Their fifties garb was out of place but strikingly attractive. He reached out and handed me a calling card that with a name that made me gasp: Sterling Cooper. "Season 2," he said.

How they could have guessed that a random Asian chick was not only a mad woman herself, but a Mad Men devotee, is beyond me. That one moment cemented my day-old love for New York, the first of many awesome surprises that the city has given me. But it was a demonstration of marketing brilliance - right context, right message, right experience. I still carry the card with me, as a reminder me of how our work can potentially excite people, and how our creative process still excites me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

New York minutes

Traveling gives me new perspectives and new questions to answer. A few from this trip that I will need to chew on in the next few weeks / months:

  • Design as a mandatory but a gap in Philippine digital - both form and function.
  • Re-thinking Innovation: Not tech but new adoptions. Is something only an innovation if it reaches a certain level of adoption?
  • Innovation framework as a model for experience planning?
  • New York: The Experience
  • (Again) Museums as the best model for engagement planning / Personal Analytics & the Quantified Self
  • How movie-going has changed because of digital
  • What do we want to curate?
  • What should the idea of the "global village" mean for agencies

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Advertising is a team sport.

I grew up in a Catholic school run by nuns who often told us about their "calling". I didn't know if one day they encountered a burning bush, heard a deep voice in a dream, or saw a light leading them to eternal celibacy. But they were certain that this was the life they were called to.

We are definitely not saints but sometimes it feels like advertising is also a vocation. This is the life we were called to, and there is no rest. We battle mental blocks to make even the tightest leadtimes. We slave away over abstract mental models and ideas until they turn into more concrete propositions, storyboards, status updates, wireframes. We put on our smartest and most smashing shows in the hope that clients will be able to envision what only really exists in our heads. Sometimes we hit it out of the park. Many times we get shut down. It isn't showbiz but there is a lot of rejection. And for some reason we're willing to miss breakfast, lunch, dinner, and stay til 10 pm, midnight, sunrise. We stick it out despite the waves of depression that settle over us when we compare compensation with contemporaries in banks, real estate, client side. An advertiser's life is tough, hard, heartbreaking. Yet it feels like working anywhere even slightly more corporate would be selling out. Even in planning it feels like we have creative muscles that need to be stretched. It feels like nowhere else would we be as fulfilled, so we stick with it.

Given this level of commitment, it is scary that we need to be able to count on a wealth of other people to get the job done. Did your account guys understand the client? Is the planner going to find a good problem, insight, solution? Are the creatives going to be clear and clever, solid yet fresh? Do you have anyone to optimize those low CTRs? We collectively try to come up with and execute work that breaks ground but there is a lot that can go wrong. No one person or team can run the show, but for a job this tough, it can be tough to have to count on a wealth of other people to fly.

The other thing about agency life is the high turnover. Because it is so back-breaking, it is almost impossible to stay at the top of your game - clients change, budgets shrink and most of all, people move around. Our team has been through a lot - we've lost in good ways and sad but we've arrived at some kind of synergistic whole that really seems to work for us. We get to do pretty great work, we laugh often, drink together a lot and our internal network is chock-full of internal memes-slash-jokes. In advertising they say you're only as good as your last idea. Maybe you're only as good as the team you're on.

I don't know how long any of this will last but for now I am humbled and thankful. Advertising is a team sport. And for today I'm on the best one.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


This week our agency won gold.

It was 2010 when I returned from an in-depth digital immersion in New York. I had no idea where I was supposed to go next but Planning for MRM ended up that next move. I could never have imagined that I would eventually end up in Singapore at the Campaign Asia awards, shortlisted as SEA Account Person of the Year. (Despite its title the award is for both suits and strategic planners.) By some crazy miracle I ended up winning.

I never even aspired to this because only creatives win awards! Not planners. Especially not specialist digital planners. But what must have given me the edge is the hardcore education I've received from so many stellar mentors throughout the years.

This is my feeling-Oscar winner post but 
I absolutely need to thank these people who believed in me and taught me through the years.

MARICEL & DINO: My first mentors, and first set of advertising parents. They showed me that, in an industry that can be a little too cutthroat sometimes, absolute trust can exist in the agency as long as there is some hot pan de sal, some of Alex's sisig and as long as bosses are leaders, too.

BUDJETTE: My first-ever advertising boss! Remember? As an intern on his Globe Prepaid creative team I picked up an appreciation for ideas, art and copy. Through the years that I've been so lucky to have kept working with him, He has been the best example of a leader who will never abandon his team and the work. He will tirelessly search for truths and even creative articulations that properly convey brand role yet set his people free to grow. Replete with creative temper/ament yet devoid of cliche creative airs, he is the Madonna of creative - able to re-tool and re-invent through the evolution of our industry.

NANDY: I will never forget the day Nandy asked me to move to Planning. Through intense one-on-one internals, he tooled me up for (hopefully) a career's worth of briefs, campaigns and brand strategies. He remains the Planning bar to which I aspire - a masterclass in razorsharp problem-definition, insighitng and brand stewardship. He is the Fr. Dacanay of our discipline - the "tough love" teacher who will stretch each learning opportunity. Most importantly is he a leader who will inspire people to reach outside themselves in work, craft, grace and integrity.

GEN, VIBOY, BEAU & EZ (and later Jen!): Almost everything I know about Planning I learned from watching these guys work. I'm a baby in this discipline, only 2.5 years old! But I joined the best team in the country, and they took me under their wings. They were willing to partner with and teach me, and indulged me in many existential Planning discussions. My original planning family, who taught by example.

DONALD: Our fearless leader who inspires confidence from his hardcore marketing background, solid business instincts and slightly experimental management approach. He espouses ongoing education to sharpen our craft and has been so willing to take chances on young people with possibly ridiculous ideals. A man with vision and a personal roadmap to carry us to the top spot.

MY TEAM: I wouldn't have gotten through this insane year without Beau & El. They inspire me everyday to be the best leader I can be, and push me to create room for each of us to grow. Their crazy hard and awesome work assures me that our future is so bright.

TEAM MRM: The dedicated and tireless OT crew! Who sticks with each problem until it is solved, no matter how many hours and sleepless nights it takes. Accounts, creatives, community managers, production guys whose passion never seems to run out and who remind me everyday why it is more fun in MRM.

The sweetest part of all this is that our agency was also awarded gold, as Philippine Digital Agency of the Year by this regional body. This award succeeds a local Digital Excellence AOY award, which we won earlier this year.

Two years ago, and even last week, I would have laughed this thought off. But as I stream of conscious-ly posted in our MRM Manila page: We don't know what will come our way next year, but as of today, this week, this month, we are the best in the business. 


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