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Insight: Creating Powerful Connections In the Middle of a Pandemic – VMLY&R Philippines On Staying Positive and Productive

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Weeks into the Luzon-wide community quarantine, and the local advertising industry is doing its best to keep the creative business afloat through the Work From Home set-up. Big changes have stirred up the community as briefings, meetings, and regular catch-ups are now regular occurrences on messaging platforms, and usual work environments filled with creatives are now replaced by laptop screens, and pop-up chats.

How will the advertising industry, as a business built on the constant exchange of creative ideas, survive this lockdown and the limited sources of inspiration it provides?

VMLY&R Philippines General Manager, Ags Chuapoco, provides a silver lining to the quarantine that comes back full circle to the agency’s strongest philosophy: creating powerful connections. With insights on how VMLY&R as a network is working through this new environment, and keeping the positive vibes ever-flowing, she gives us a tour on how they are coping as a creative agency.


Read her full interview below:

What are the measures you took during this lockdown?

We have implemented a work from home set-up since March 9 (our office is right across the building where a confirmed case was announced March 7). We’ve done WFH Wednesday for a while now, as a benefit to our employees who live further away and have to battle the traffic every day, so we were fortunate to have done some preparation for remote working. We have network tools that fully support our WFH set-up which allows close contact with our employees, business partners and clients. We also have a ‘vmly’ (family) group chat, and department chat groups to check-in on each other. We’ve provided guidance to employees in the event they become a suspected case (hopefully not!), working closely with our HMO provider, Regional HR Office etc.

There’s also support and guidance coming from WPP and VMLY&R network. Our VMLY&R Global CEO even sends videos from his home office to keep in touch and provide much needed morale support during these challenging times!

How are things a week into it?

Things have been quite busy actually this past week. We strive to keep the business running as best possible and of course continue to engage clients to provide the necessary support they need.

What lies ahead for VMLY&R?

The whole COVID-19 situation has opened a new reality for us. It will be more challenging in the coming months, definitely. So the ability and agility to maneuver around these challenges and adapt quickly during and after COVID-19 lockdown will be key.

How can communications help during these disruptive times?

I can’t begin to imagine how Filipinos (or the world for that matter) would be able to manage this whole situation if we didn’t have the communication technology we have now (imagine if we were back in the 80’s/90’s). But with that sophistication also comes the spread of fake news and unverified claims which do nothing but aggravate situations in a crisis like this. Unfortunately, it can’t be avoided, so we just need to discern any info we receive before we even share.

Any positive musings to lift the spirit?

At VMLY&R, we go by the philosophy of creating powerful connections. That holds so true now more than ever as we all strive to stay connected with clients and colleagues but equally important is staying in touch with family and friends to lift each other’s spirits.

This has also taught me to appreciate the little things we often overlook in our busy lives. Grateful for the extra time with my daughter, grateful for our noble kababayan frontliners and their sacrifices. Grateful for family and friends who cheer us up when things get worrying at times. In a way, even grateful for the clear blue skies now visible from our window. Gaea is taking a break as they say. The list goes on and we just need to keep reminding ourselves that, every waking day.


This article is part of a series by adobo magazine exploring the different ways the local creative industry is continuing to produce content and service clients during the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine implemented to avoid the outbreak of COVID-19.

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