Events: CreativeFest NOW Puts the spotlight on persistent creativity with three days of proof that indeed, Stories Don’t Stop

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The country’s biggest creative and advertising festival this year has migrated wholly to the digital space with the first-ever all-online CreativeFest program, organized by 4As Philippines and the Creative Guild of the Philippines. Hosted on November 19 to 21, the three-day event was packed with talks and discussions from all over the world centered around the theme “Stories Don’t Stop,” to highlight the power of creativity amid these uncertain times.

Registration was free, but participants were highly encouraged to donate any amount to UNICEF Philippines to help out victims of recent typhoons across the country, specifically typhoon Ulysses.

David Guerrero, 4As Philippines Chairman and BBDO Guerrero Chief Creative Officer, officially opened the festival by talking about the key role of creativity in spreading the right messages to the right people. He also put a special emphasis on the Filipino story, and the importance of continuing to tell it to our own people, and around the world.


Rey Tiempo, Creative Guild President and VMLY&R Philippines Chief Creative Officer, then gave the Program Overview. As he put it, CreativeFest NOW might very well be CreativeFest Forever as all the sessions are available for on-demand watching on the website for all registrants. Interested viewers can also register any time, even days after the program went live: “Whenever you’re watching it, you’re watching it now–which is a bit meta.”

DAY 1 The first Keynote presenter was Merlee Jayme, Global President of dentsumcgarrybowen, with The Girl Who’s Too Crazy for the World. Through an animated short film, Jayme shared her crazy story of going from student to activist, mother to Chairmom, and everything else she wishes to achieve. Jayme’s overall message in her session champions her own unyielding drive to follow her dreams, and an invitation for every other creative out there to do the same.

Wrapping up, she shared five values that help her make her stories happen:
1. Be Restless. Be Relentless.
2. Be Stubborn. Be Persistent. Be Difficult.
3. Grow Yourself.
4. Be ambitious.
5. Stay crazy.

The program then proceeded with even more empowering stories of hope and imagination:

  • Inclusive Design — Christina Mallon of Wunderman Thompson New York shared her story of overcoming ALS to advocate for Inclusive Design in product creation, branding, and advertising.
  • Persistent Creativity — McCann Worldgroup’s John Mescall introduced the concept of “life hackers” as types of people the world needs right now. These are the people who see the need to change the world and make it better with creativity that’s persistent.
  • How to Stay Creative When Life Has You Unmotivated — Storyboard artist, Film Producer and Founder of Lex and Otis Animation Studio Jay Oliva shared practical tips on how to fuel one’s storytelling ideas: watch stuff, read books, and don’t be afraid to study.
  • What’s Bigger than the Big Mac? — Margot Torres of McDonald’s Philippines took us behind the origin story of the big brand collaboration launched during the pandemic with a special message of: “The most important SHIP is friendship.”
  • Meditations in an Emergency — Raymond Ang of The Wall Street Journal discussed the power of documentation in curing the Philippines’ national amnesia, especially the documentation of culture so that we may never forget who we are as a country.
  • Rising Above the Crisis with Smart Stories — Smart Communications’ Lloyd Manaloto discussed the power of meaningful videos during the pandemic, and how digital technology has allowed loved ones to stay close while remaining socially distant.
  • My Magnum Story — “If you want to do good advertising, you need to have a clear territory for the brand. For Magnum, it was pleasure.” LOLA Mullenlowe’s Tomas Ostiglia called in straight from Madrid with an insider look on how each of their most successful campaigns for the brand played on the concept of pleasure.
  • Press (Re)Start: Gaming in the New Normal — Secret Base Founder Calvin Cuevas talked about what happened in the gaming industry when quarantine was imposed in Manila with an inspiring story of overcoming “game overs” to rethink strategies and play again.
  • A Story of Entrepreneurial Resilience — Propel Manila Founder and CEO JV Valenzuela put an emphasis on company culture in his session, and how their team’s culture allowed Propel to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. He also talked about the philosophy of “Ideas that Matter, from People Who Matter.”
  • Roundtable: The Kids Are Alright — The panel consisted of parents in the advertising and branding industry and a child psychologist on the impact of COVID and quarantine to the little ones.
  • Music Is Not A Trend — The Hernandez brothers, Herbert Hernandez of GIGIL and a guitarist for local bands Moonstar88 and 6Cyclemind and Darwin Hernandez of Soupstar Music Inc., shone a light on the powerful role of music in marketing and association.


Day 2

Morten Bonde, Senior Art Director at LEGO, shared his inspiring story of being legally blind as an art director in his Keynote presentation titled “The Stories We Tell Ourselves.” Bonde opened up about how the stories he told himself affected his mental health, and how he viewed his life. Until he made the decision to change his inner voice, and the things he would tell himself to be more positive and empowering, which eventually led to getting his job back at Lego.

“Stories can bring people together, and stories can bypass your analytical filters of your mind, and go straight to your heart. Remember! Stories that have impact aren’t remembered in the brain, they’re remembered in the heart.” He closed his presentation with a question for all of us: “What stories do YOU tell yourself about yourself everyday?”

The rest of the day’s program went as follows:

  • From Tofu to COVID — Everbridge’s John Maeda shared some solid life lessons on his session, including the truth behind these concepts: Go closer to what you don’t understand, Humble beginnings, It takes time to do good work, Money as a medium, and Makers need Talkers.
  • One Thousand And One Ads — Award-winning creative Ali Rez from Impact BBDO talked about the rule of 3 in story writing: “Know who you’re speaking to,” “A surprise is good,” and “Start well. End weller.”
  • Data & Storytelling: The Story Behind Road Tales — Daniel Sytsma of Isobar EMEA and Dentsu Aegis Network took us through their award-winning campaign, Road Tales, and how data played a vital role in its success.
  • The Case to Move Beyond Reason — Leif Stromnes of DDB Australia discussed the emotional purchasing power of consumers, with 3 lessons on Moves Beyond Reason and a plea for more creativity in the industry.
  • Aliens of Manila on Lockdown — Filipino artist Leeroy New talked about how his installation art style influenced the face masks and face shields he created when the Philippines went into lockdown.
  • Unsmoke Your World — Dave Gomez of PMFTC shared the bold advocacy of their cigarette company to rid the world of smoking with creative alternatives.
  • Where is Philippine Cinema Headed? — Award-winning filmmaker Erik Matti took us into the world of local film in his raw and very honest talk about its future: “Where is PH cinema headed? I don’t know..”
  • Sisters’ Speak: Connection, Engagement & Building Brand Love in the Time of COVID — The sisters behind Human Nature examined the success of their online hangout initiative that empowered their brand to sell and connect with consumers through short video content.
  • Life Goes On Even When Life Goes Wrong — Power couple EJ Galang and Kat Galang shared their secrets to raising a family while working from home with 5 lessons on turning different situations into a source of inspiration.

The second day of CreativeFest NOW also honored the late Eugene Demata and Dave Ferrer with the Lifetime Achievement Awards, remembering their great contributions to the local advertising scene throughout the years.

Day 3

The last Keynote speaker of the festival was definitely one not to miss as TBWA\SMP’s Melvin Mangada interviewed Taiwan’s Minister of Digital Audrey Tang to talk about how data and creativity helped the country ultimately win against COVID-19. The 40-minute interview included Tang discussing the creative materials they released to attract and protect citizens, and how we could apply it here in the Philippines.

“If you see me saying ‘wear a mask & wash hands,’ you may understand it but you might not share it. But when a cute dog says the same thing, not only will you remember it, you will also share it.”

At the last stretch of the festival, even more stories were shared on the following sessions:

  • How Creativity Can Change A Nation — Cannes Lions Chairman Phil Thomas recalled being invited to Ecuador in 2012 to celebrate the country’s first-ever Gold Cannes Lion: “..once these countries win, they never stop.”
  • Wombstories Don’t Stop — AMV BBDO’s Nicholas Hulley and Nadja Lossgott, as the minds behind award-winning campaign Wombstories, shares the power of storytelling in shedding light to often-ignored truths.
  • The L.O.V.E Project Story by Resorts World Manila — Resorts World Manila leaders and performers from Full House Theater Company serenaded viewers with stories of how music made events extra special through Zoom amidst the pandemic.
  • Finding Your Creative Balance — Picture Book Author-Illustrator Jomike Tejido walked us through his creative process before and during quarantine, and how he managed to keep his “creative adrenaline” going.
  • Fighting For the Big Idea — GIGIL Founding Partner Badong Abesamis talked about the Indie Perspective and the system the agency uses to satisfy both client objectives, and that of the agency’s.
  • Reframing Strategy: The Power of Human Centered Design — Keith Timimi of VMLY&R Singapore held a mini Masterclass on the importance of human-centered design, and how to get there.
  • Jam For Good: Google Tech, Human Themes and… Winners! — Peach Natividad of Google Philippines shared the Jam for Good competition on solving local problems with Google technology, and announced the winning entries.
  • Building a Local Success Story — Have you seen that ad of Buy Local for Locals during the pandemic, and wondered how it came about? Its founders, Patrick and Alexa Balo, shared that story in this session.
  • Comicbook Stories Don’t Stop — Local legends in the comic book world Jiggy Cruz, Budjette Tan, Leinil Yu and Sandy Sansolis gathered to discuss how lockdown has affected their comic work, for the creators’ and retailers’ points of view. –
  • Contemplating Content — Viral internet sensation Mark Averilla, more popularly known as Macoy Dubs, open up about his humble beginnings and how being a frustrated creative led to his iconic dub videos.
  • The Virtual Studio — Facebook Philippines’ Dale Lopez shared the wonders of Facebook’s Creative Shop initiative with a demonstration on the power of Augmented Reality.
  • Movies Don’t Stop, but Where Do We Look and Listen? — ABS-CBN Director Enrico Santos shared his two cents on content, platform, and social media in this new era of Philippine cinema.
  • Exploring The Decade of Possibility — As the last talk of the 3-day festival, Interbrand USA’s Daniel Binns took viewers on a trip down memory lane with a retrospective look on how branding has evolved throughout the years.

Finally, the Hall of Fame inductees have been named at the end of the program, honoring Tin Sanchez who created the campaign that eventually got the Philippines its first Cannes Lion, and first Gold Cannes Lions. Aste Gutierrez was also inducted for his contributions to the local and international ad world, including the country’s first-ever Grand Prix win at Cannes. Both were celebrated for their astounding works and work ethic, and their efforts to spread Filipino creativity around the world.

As we look at the whole program, an overarching theme that could be seen is a collective spirit of perseverance, resourcefulness, and rising above adversities to continue telling (and creating) stories—may it be in our personal lives or professional careers.

In conclusion, David Guerrero officially wrapped up the festival with reasons to be optimistic in the coming new year:

  1. There’s a vibrant creative community which the Philippines is proudly part of. – The best works emerge out of adversity.
  2. Consumers have more choices, so creativity is needed now more than ever.
  3. There is an unparalleled power behind one’s personal narrative.

Watch the festival on-demand at

adobo magazine is the official media partner of CreativeFest NOW 2020

Partner with adobo Magazine

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