MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The past couple of years have completely changed the way the world works and brands are picking up on it—the year 2021 was evidence that storytelling is also changing, likely for the better.
Speaking to some of the leading experts in advertising in the APAC region, it appears that the campaigns that made the most noise were those with a big message: ads that aimed not only to say things differently, but to force us to do things differently. More than ever, creativity is not just about expression, but about changing the way society at large thinks and acts.
adobo Magazine talked to Asia’s biggest names and ad agency networks in the region, each with solid reputations behind award-winning campaigns that span decades. We asked for their best picks this year. And here’s who came out on top:
|#1||Sakay Halfway||Sakay.ph||MullenLowe TREYNA|
|#2||“The Dissolving Bottle”||The Dissolving Bottle||BBDO Guerrero|
|#3||“McClassroom”||McDonald’s||Leo Burnett Manila|
|#5||“Now Boarding”||ManuLife PH||Wunderman Thompson PH|
|#6||“BayBayan”||CCP||TBWA/Santiago Mangada Puno|
|#7||“Himbing”||McDonald’s||Leo Burnett Manila|
|#8||“One True Pair”||Jollibee||Publicis JimenezBasic|
|#9||Creamsilk x Ben & Ben||Creamsilk||Oliver x U-Studio|
adobo Best Ads of the Year 2021
#1 Sakay Halfway
A Kidlat Gold 2021 winner for the Creative Technology & Media category, this memorable campaign identified the real villain in Philippine romance: traffic. The solution? An app that presents the halfway point between two lovers and directions to get there. Not only does it tell a compelling story about Metro Manila, it’s actually something people wanted, even if they didn’t know it just yet. The ingenuity of this idea struck a chord with many people in the ad industry.
According to Brandie Tan, CCO of Wunderman Thompson, this stint by Sakay.ph and MullenLowe TREYNA proved a long-held belief of his: “Many agencies over the years have always had the capability to make work beyond the good ol’ traditional campaign. Then here comes an idea from an agency sold to a client that’s a useful utility and has the potential to keep growing or be sold to a bigger tech company.”
“For sure tech cuteness,” said Greg Martin, Ace Saatchi & Saatchi.
Bia Fernandez, Group Creative Director at Publicis Jimenez Basic commented, “I admire the work done for Sakay.ph. It’s rooted in such a true Filipino insight and the solution was fun and simple.”
#2 “Dissolving Bottle”
This campaign by BBDO Guerrero for Dissolving Bottle was a Cannes Bronze Lions winner in the Design category. Jao Bautista, Group Creative Director at Publicis JimenezBasic gave it his thumbs up “because future creativity is contributing to world efforts on sustainability.”
An expansion of the multi-awarded 2020 pilot that created classroom spaces for students, the 2021 iteration created room to include more students and expanded to more locations. The campaign won a Kidlat Grand Prix as well as multiple Kidlat Gold awards in the categories of Creative Effectiveness, Creative & Tech, Creative Storytelling, and Creative Purpose.
#4 Trese’s Netflix Campaign
GIGIL’s campaign for the launch of the Netflix series based on comic book series Trese definitely got eyeballs. In the days leading up to the release, billboards began popping up not just in Metro Manila but across the country featuring protagonist Alexandra Trese. It began to go viral on social media but, mere days later, the billboards suddenly had red markings and appeared vandalized. With the words, “Layas, siyudad namin to!” or “Leave, this is our city!”
#5 “Now Boarding”
Manulife’s ad “Now Boarding,” produced by Wunderman Thompson Philippines encourages Filipinos to see the value of resetting their goals in life. The film tells the story of unwitting passengers passing through airport security, where they meet a tough “insecurity officer,” who meticulously inspects baggage contents before allowing entry. During the screening process, travelers reveal various insecurities, doubts and fears mysteriously hidden inside their luggage, which they intend to bring with them as they start a new chapter in their lives. The message is that the path towards the life you want to live takes self-belief and courage, and requires letting go of unnecessary baggage, even when uncertain about what the future holds.
BayBayan is the baybayin script integrated into the modern alphabet to become the first font of its kind. This ancient system retyped by TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno for the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) won the Kidlat Gold Award for Best Art Direction and Best Typography.
This spot McDonald’s created for mothers on Mother’s Day, conceptualized by Leo Burnett Manila, truly hit a sentimental spot. The film features a montage of mothers deeply sleeping, caught up in the middle of their daily tasks. Accompanied by a lullaby, their loved ones sneak in, helping these mothers get the proper rest they need. The video ends with the message: “Konting pahinga, Ma.” (“Get some rest, Ma.”) It’s a simple, emotional tribute that resonated with a lot of people.
Kat Limchoc, Executive Creative Director at Black Pencil Manila, said “I really loved the McDonald’s Mother’s Day ad, “Himbing” (done by another Leo Burnett team, whose CD Dante Dizon told me that he was inspired by how much his entrepreneur wife, also named Cat, loves it when she is able to get these reviving naps. I just love its message of acknowledging how hard moms have worked during this pandemic and the best gift would be just to let them rest.”
#8 “One True Pair”
This film by Jollibee Studios reached over 5.8 million views quickly after it was released. Jollibe became the first-ever brand that reunited John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo on-screen to match the perfect pairing of Jollibee Chickenjoy with Jolly Spaghetti.
#9 Creamsilk x Ben & Ben
In this campaign, brothers Paolo and Miguel Benjamin, the frontmen of the OPM folk band Ben&Ben, were announced as the newest ambassadors of Cream Silk. The collaboration was a long time coming thanks to a meme that blew up when a fan photoshopped Paolo’s and Miguel’s faces onto Cream Silk products.
Badong Abesamis, Partner at GIGIL said, “Among the memorable efforts that stood out for me in 2021 was CreamSilk’s introduction of its new brand ambassadors: Ben&Ben. Shoulder-length hair…check! Straight, and jet-black…check! But males…and not just one, but two? It didn’t hurt that they have a hit song called ‘Araw-Araw,’ which was used by CreamSilk to serenade lapsers, promoting the conditioner’s daily use. Sure beats having another Ms. Universe endorse the hair brand.”
The artist behind Tarantadong Kalbo, Kevin Eric Raymundo created an illustration called “Tumindig” (translated as to stand up or to rise) which amassed over 104,000 likes on Facebook, and 15,000 retweets on Twitter. Raymundo posted the digital drawing depicting closed fists bowing down to resemble the fist bump popularized by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies. While still part of the crowd, one figure is set apart by his stance, upright and seemingly glowing. In this position, the figure mirrors a raised fist, a symbol of strength and solidarity for those brave enough to dissent.
Abi Aquino ECD of MullenLowe Treena said, “What started as a simple editorial cartoon — an illustration of a sole fist standing up in a sea of dark, bowed hands — became an easy expression for those frustrated with the times. Artists and non-artists alike, editing the illustration to add their own versions of fists defiantly standing in revolt, then using it as their avatars on social media, to continue their protest. Tumindig tayo at nakakatindig ng balahibo ang epekto. I’ve given this some thought. The campaign that I felt was the most memorable for the year and that created impact in more ways than the usual, didn’t come from an agency or the usual brand.”