MANILA – Advertising icon Minyong Ordonez passed away on the morning of November 6. He was 78 years old.
Considered as one of the “Pillars of the Philippine Advertising Industry,” Ordonez was the former chairman of Publicis Groupe in the Philippines.
As the man who penned Jollibee’s “Langhap-Sarap” slogan, Ordonez, fondly known as HGO, was a champion of Filipino sensibilities and culture. Through the course of his long and eventful career, he specialized in communications that reached out to the Filipino masses, helping local brands grow exponentially.
Together with the late Tony Mercado, Ordonez established Basic Advertising and took the advertising world by storm. The agency at its peak reached number one in terms of billings, and helped build local brands like Jollibee, San Miguel, Eskinol, Alaska, Cebu Pacific, and Lucky Me. He also mentored creative leaders such as Matec Villanueva, Marlon Rivera, Mon Jimenez
At the time of his death, he was a columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and a freelance journalist.
Ordonez was described as “a genius shrouded in humility” by advertising veteran and former AdBoard chairman Andre Kahn.
Meanwhile, Paolo Mercado, Tony Mercado’s son, remembered his father’s partner in a Facebook tribute, recalling how an already retired Ordonez helped the younger Mercado , who struggled to set up Publicis Manila.
“We certainly had a long difficult road ahead. The clients didn’t trust us. The industry did not respect us. And internally, people didn’t trust each other. In the early days of Publicis Manila, Marlon, Delia, Bonat and I would often say to one another, ‘what the hell have we gotten ourselves into???’” Mercado wrote.
“But HGO was indomitable. A laughing and smiling Kagemusha who would not be moved from the mountain, convinced utterly that we would prevail,” he recalled.
Mercado shared how Ordonez would encourage play, fostering a culture of happiness within the agency.
“He believed that creativity will flourish in joy, and joy in the workplace became an unwritten management priority,” he said, sharing how the Publicis Manila office became a fun environment, with over-the-top costume parties and monthly competitions that ranged from photography and prose to karaoke face-offs and spelling bees.
“Publicis Manila has fully recovered (and moved)…” Mercado wrote. “But I will never forget HGO and how, through his passionate leadership, we survived the worst through play.”