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Intersections Chief Executive Officer Gladys Basinillo on the bold approach and opening the potential of music marketing 

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Three years since its inception, the two-pronged agency Intersections and PraXis have upped the ante when it comes to activations and digital executions. Born during the pandemic, its people’s expertise and agility helped them realize concepts that can only be done with the coordination of multiple moving parts working seamlessly to create projects that make a difference. 

For a young agency, they have bagged clients such as Watsons, Tanduay, and Puma. Under the hand of a media agency veteran, it’s no surprise that performance is the measure of their service. The Word on Creativity, adobo Magazine, talked to Gladys Basinillo, Chief Executive Officer of Intersections and Chief Growth Officer of PraXis, about their ethos as a connections agency and how collaboration played a big part in their growth and scale, from squeezing in a condo unit to a full-fledged operation in their corner in Makati. 

Best CMO 2024 Gladys Basinillo Insert Profile Photo

Among her pride in her team and the projects they’ve made, Gladys discussed the need to go above being a client supplier and providing real insights that spike results, whether in the form of optimizing ads and kickstarting ecommerce platforms by Intersections, or in mounting concerts with PraXis that provide spaces for artists and fans to share meaningful experiences. 


How are you different from traditional agencies?

Gladys: How we set up our agency is quite different. From day one, we made sure that everyone was digital. We know everything now is digital, so everything is digital-first. Second, we treat each client differently in terms of where they are in their journey and what they need. We want to collaborate a lot, so even if we have to look for other partners to be able to deliver solutions, we do that.

We don’t handle everything end-to-end but if it’s possible, we do that as well. If there is expertise needed for a particular campaign, we look for partners outside. We’re all about collaboration. 


Tell us more about your background leading to your decision to start Intersections

I’ve been to seven different agencies. I have more than 30 years of experience in media, and even before the pandemic, I felt that something was missing. In this day and age, the way a client and agency work should not be a client-supplier relationship; I’d say we are more like an extension of the client, and if needed, we even embed people in our clients’ businesses, so I think that’s how we are different. We really provide solutions to clients, and everything is about performance.

How do you convince clients to go with your bold approach?

When a client briefs us, we’re very honest with them. After we brainstorm and research, we go to the client and tell them, “We don’t think it’s the right way to go.” 

We’re quite brave in telling clients that it shouldn’t be how you normally do advertising or media placement. Especially after the pandemic because 80% of what we knew pre-pandemic is no longer relevant. 

I think that agility matters between clients and agencies because there are so many changes. Whatever I presented six months ago is no longer relevant now.  The only way that both agency and client can adapt to all of these technological changes dictating consumer behavior is for clients and agency to be partners. We’ll be the first ones to tell them when the plan is wrong or it’s not working. We’re that honest because the intent is to get better, and we’re sensitive to the competition and landscape, but right now, it’s all about expertise and a progressive mindset.

The value we advertise is primarily our expertise, media, digital advertising, and performance marketing, and the progressive mindset is equally important, meaning you’re collaborative, you’re very open, and you’re really agile. From then on, the agency’s main role is connecting the dots. Thus, our name Intersections. 

We really need to find that sweet spot. We ask if we need more Meta, more Google, more TikTok. That’s our role, depending on what they can afford, how the competition is reacting, and how their target market is behaving.

In your young history, what would you say are your milestones?

One, we’ve won a lot of accounts; some of them we pitched for, and some of them practically awarded to us considering the limitations at the height of the lockdown. The agency is agile, so for example, we did a vertical concert with SMDC, and all of the residents of the high-rise condominiums were watching. We were able to create content, we were able to do Facebook Live, and there was no showroom for SMDC then, so that kept us excited — to be creative, what can you do given the pandemic? 


To be honest, with all of these tools, everything’s easier. But what’s hard? Finding the solution, making things happen, talking to LGUs, and artists, convincing all of them to perform in one stage, and not charging us their regular rate because it’s really for OPM. That is surreal. Many of our clients clearly see our tagline, “Where Difference Starts,” that it’s all about that.

It’s been three and a half years, but we’ve built relevant platforms and relationships with our clients. Our footprint has increased tremendously in the past two years, but within the three years, we’ve managed to win a lot of accounts.

What are some of your personal favorites?

I like Puma because it needed to launch its website in the middle of the lockdown. At that time, we were working with given parameters: they had an endorser, and then they wanted an art contest. 

The team brainstormed. We had a tie-up with a publisher and the Tenement Visual Artists; we had a contest via Facebook, and then the winner, which [NBA star] Melo Ball chose, was painted within the courtyard, and it was in the height of the pandemic. Hence, we had influencers, we invited some media. We had to convince the local government to give us [the] permit[s] to do these things. We pitched it to the local government because we were giving income for these tenement artists who had no jobs at that time, so I think that was special. 

With Watsons, the brief was very clear: we need to connect to the Gen Zs. Because they are quite strong in the wellness category, the team came up with the Watsons playlist concert featuring Zack Tabudlo, SB19, and Ben and Ben. It’s so hard to get them in one event; we were able to do it and it sold out for the client. 

We’re also planning to produce our own music festival. In this day and age of K-pop (and I’m also a fan) but our battlecry is, “Why not local?” It’s heartbreaking when a company or an advertiser tells us they only sponsor international artists. Our artists are very talented, so it’s something we will have to prove to the industry because music marketing is very underrated in this country.

In Home Credit, we did our own show, which is financial advisory to farmers, fisherman in a radio morning show in the DZRH. That’s one thing I like about this job. Sometimes in advertising, we’re all about the glamor of it but agencies and clients should understand we’re playing a pivotal role in the country. If we can do campaigns that can promote the betterment of the nation, if you can do campaigns that can influence people, especially the young ones, that keeps us very happy.  

For three and a half years, we’ve done some amazing projects so I think that’s a testament. And we have a very young team; that’s one of our strengths. We have core heads, senior, and veterans like me, and very young Gen Z employees. And I think that’s working for us now because they’re very smart, they know what they want, they’re very expressive, and we’re just there to guide them for the feasibility and the sustainability.   

Tell us about your decision to have a physical office

Prior to moving to Crown Center, we were just occupying my one-bedroom, 48-square-foot condominium. We did hybrid because we can’t fit, so Tuesdays and Thursdays are for the digital team, and PraXis is Monday and Wednesday. We grew very fast. We really saw how the team was working hard and it was crazy because some of them had to stand within the doorframe, or go into the storage area, we’d sometimes go to coffee shops, but it was hard because a lot of our projects are really collaborations.

It’s quite brave of us to do this but we were also very particular in terms of the location. We looked for every building possible; we wanted it to be an intersection, and we wanted an open space because, normally, an office would have dividers, rules, and grids. We needed something really open because we need the collaboration, and a lot of talking to each other. 


If you have meetings, we have call booths; if it’s one-on-one, we have many rooms, so that’s how different we are. I only have an office because sometimes clients visit us and we need to receive them somewhere, but the concept is everyone can occupy any space.

Another is that all of us have a rotation to manage the reception, including me, because I want them to feel this is their agency — this is us. Because if we achieve our targets, we’re giving it back to the employees, I don’t want them to think they’re employees. This is our agency, so we drive it together. 

That is what we tell our clients. You talk to us, we go back to the office, we know what’s going on, we’re not hiding behind anything. It’s really us, it’s being authentic, it’s being true, and we really love what we do. 

At the rate we’re going, the clients we’re attracting, I’m quite proud. We’re at 5% attrition, and there’s hardly any resignation in our team. We’re growing, yes, but a lot of the people who joined us in the beginning are with us right now. We’re quite proud of that.

Where do you see Intersections going?

I don’t want to classify ourselves as a media agency or an experiential agency. We’re really more of a connections agency. We want to build that niche in terms of connections. We can also work with big agencies. Where the client needs us, we’ll be there. Secondly, we’re building our niche in music marketing because it’s a space that we can really take advantage of, and a lot of our clients really want to go into music marketing so that’s something that excites us; and performance, we have to make sure that everything we do performs for our clients.

adobo Magazine presents Meet the Remarkable Marketers: A CMO Series, where we feature some of the most fearless, agile, and creative brand leaders across Asia. They share inspiration, insights, and key learnings that have shaped their business, from surpassing industry benchmarks and launching effective campaigns to initiating best practices as they navigate through uncertain times.

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