Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Better to burn out than to fade away

The website listed Kurt Cobain as the highest-earning dead celebrity, with the late Nirvana frontman raking in 50 million dollars in the past year, pushing Elvis into second place after reigning “King” on the list since 2001. The website ranks 13 celebrities who are still raking in the big bucks six feet under, with a collective earning of 247 million dollars in the last year.

The grunge icon was found dead, shotgun wound to the head in his Seattle home in 1994, where a suicide note was also located. A part of his “alleged” suicide note is the phrase, “It is better to burn out than to fade away”.

Alleged, because after the “suicide” shocked the world and left millions of fans stunned, a string of investigations followed, including that of private investigator Tom Grant, concluding that Cobain did not commit suicide, but was rather murdered. The theory was later on supported by a book called “Who killed Kurt Cobain? The mysterious death of an icon” by Rolling Stones Investigative Journalism award winners, Max Wallace and Ian Halperin, published in 1998, and a second installment, “Love & Death, the murder of Kurt Cobain”.

Was it murder or suicide?

Buy the books or follow these links (including a case study manual by PI Tom Grant) and decide:

The truth is, only Kurt knows. And if the words he “allegedly” left on his suicide note is any indication of his posthumous success, I’d say he’s right on target.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Left brain: "Why don't you make a Top 10 list?"

Right brain: "A Top what??"

LB: "You know, Top 10 movies, Top 10 books, Top 10 songs..."

RB: "I know what a Top 10 list is, dumb-ass, but why?"

LB: "Why not? Everybody loves making a list of their favorite things. Besides, it's entertaining to read"

RB: "That's the point! Everybody's doing it!!!"

LB: "So?"

RB: "So I'm not doing it!"

LB: "I get it. You want to be different..."

RB: "I am different!!!"

LB: "So what are you writing next?"

RB: "Ahm...about that... I haven't really figured..."

LB: "What about decoding Stephen Hawking's "A brief history of time?" You always say you want your posts to be informative"

RB: "Are you kidding? The book's too freaking convoluted, he had to write "A briefer history of time" just so people could easily grasp what he's saying!"

LB: "A movie review?"

RB: "Too time consuming"

LB: "A poem?"

RB: "Too cheesy"

LB: "A Top 10 list?"

RB: "What if I don't meet 10? What if there's just like, 6 or something?"

LB: "Round it up. There are Top 5's"

RB: "True. You really are good at math, aren't you?"

LB: "That's what we left brains are known for"

RB: "Hey! I have an idea! What if I don't call it a Top 10 list, y'know, give it another name so people will think it's unique?"

LB: "Very creative"

RB: "That way, I wouldn't worry about coming up with exactly 5 or 10... heck, I can write 131 things... or 37.5 if I want to!"

LB: "Brilliant! Besides, you're trying to be different..."

RB: "I am different!!!"

LB: "(and stupid...)"

RB: "Shut up..."

The Top 10 Advertising Campaigns of the 20th Century

1. Volkswagen, "Think Small" campaign by Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1959

2. Coca-Cola, "The pause that refreshes" by D'Arcy Co., 1929

3. Marlboro, The Marlboro Man by Leo Burnett Co., 1955

4. Nike, "Just do it" by Wieden & Kennedy, 1988

5. McDonald's, "You deserve a break today" by Needham, Harper & Steers, 1971

6. DeBeers, "A diamond is forever" by N.W. Ayer & Son, 1948

7. Absolut Vodka, The Absolut Bottle by TBWA, 1981

8. Miller Lite beer, "Tastes great, less filling", McCann-Erickson Worldwide, 1974

9. Clairol, Does she...or doesn't she?", Foote, Cone & Belding, 1957

10. Avis, "We try harder", Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1963

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Time Space Warp

“Está quente”.

“I’m sorry?”

It’s Portuguese for what you said. “It’s hot”.

Turning around, I came face to face to where the voice was coming from, and found a 5-foot-11 woman staring at me, applying sunscreen on her long arms. “I’m being attacked by a man-eating Amazon!” My imagination was shooting through the roof. The fact that she was scantily clad in gypsy clothing didn’t help. But her face was too gentle, too beautiful, and too charming to be hostile. In fact, she looked more like a contestant of Project Runway. I took a gulp out of the mineral water I was holding and rubbed my eyes. And then I remembered.

Standing there in the desert, looking to an endless horizon of sand and mirage, sweating profusely under the scorching heat of the sun, I remembered where I was.

I was in a shoot. A location shoot far from where I imagined. The sand on my feet were actually lahar, the location was actually in Zambales, and the woman standing beside me with a quizzical look on her face was actually Isabella, a Brazilian model we flew in for a commercial.

“You better rub this in your body or you will get burned”, Isabella said with a thick accent, offering me her sun block. I didn’t decline.

4 and a half hours ago I was waiting for the driver to arrive while playing Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 2007 on my Playstation. I didn’t sleep. It was 3 am and the van could be arriving any minute. It arrived after 30. 4 more hours of travel and I found myself chatting with a Brazilian bombshell beside a Bedouin camp in the middle of the desert. Surreal. But then again, that’s how it is in Advertising.

Isabella, as I found out, was really friendly. Heck, she nearly told me her whole life story. She told me she started modeling at the age of 12, have done a lot of commercials in Brazil, London and Germany, and that it’s her first time in Asia. She seemed to enjoy the sun. I can tell, because I was slowly backing off one step at a time under the shade of a make-shift Bedouin camp while she didn’t budge. Deep inside, I was fighting the urge to warn her of dehydration and skin cancer, but then I realized that it’s only a two-day shoot. Besides, if they can survive a lifetime of tropical heat in Brazil, they can surely survive 16 hours of heat wave, her gorgeously tanned skin assuring me that she can take it.

A couple of minutes later, the director, a middle-aged Brit yelled. Time to grind. Wearing a pith hat, he sort of looked like Indiana Jones, trading his trademark whip for a camera. He called out for the talents with her thick British accent. And just like that, a multitude of individuals clad in nomadic Arab attire came out of the tents. I looked on, and sensing the confusion in my eyes, the producer was quick to tell me where they are all from. There were 5 Americans, 4 Brazilians, 1 British and 1 Canadian. Half more are Fil-Ams. Great. I’m in Tra-la-la-land.

I got the chance to talk to them during breaks. As always, I brought my trusty digicam with me, making sure that I document everything especially a photo-op with Isabella and Daniella, both lovely Brazilian models. I wouldn’t mind being stuck in here with these gorgeous girls. But then the thought of my wife holding a pair of Havaianas flip-flops and threatening to slap my face with it knocked me off my daydream. “Brazilian pala ha? Eto’ng sa iyo!” The irony was painfully grimacing. Just taking photos, dear. Part of the job.

Overall, the shoot went well. It got even more surreal when half of the cast changed outfit from see-thru laces and beads to thick, Eskimo garb. What’s more, on day 2, the production crew covered the whole Bedouin camp with ice (or at least made it appear like it is). But I’m not surprised. Not anymore. I’ve endured the heat wave and besides, I am part of the team who wrote this commercial.

And so it ended. After 2 days of intense heat and rubbing elbows with cute foreigners, the shoot was packed up. Abruptly, actually as rain poured while we’re shooting the product shots. Night fell and we bid our multi-racial cast goodbye. Isabella is going back to Brazil in 2 months, Monica to the US in a few weeks and Daniella is flying to Hong Kong for another shoot in a month’s time. As for me, I’m going home. 4 hours of bumpy ride awaits. Back to reality. Another day has ended. Though I still curse the shoot’s schedule being on a weekend and the fact that I can’t take the next day off because of major deadlines, I sat in the van and try to catch some long-overdue sleep. I can’t wait to come home and download the photos I’ve taken. I can’t wait to post this entry on my blog. I can’t wait to publish the photos on my Multiply*

Above all things, however, the most important thing I can’t wait to do, is seeing my wife and kids.

*click on the “My Photos & Videos” link on the right for more photos.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Time's up!

Been working on weekends, catching buses at 2 am, missing my bed.

In an effort to keep this blog updated, I’ve listed down some topics that I am planning to write and post when I finally have time to spare:

  1. Advertising gurus – words of inspiration or otherwise from advertising legends Bernbach, Ogilvy, Burnett and modern-day favorites Droga and French.

  1. Dissecting TVs medical genre – House, Gray’s Anatomy and Scrubs

  1. The yellow brick road to Oz

  1. 48 hours of sun, sand, more sun, and lovely Brazilians

  1. Adspeak – advertising lingo for the curious

Some titles may change without prior notice. See posters and print ads for details.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Road to Damascus

Never thought I would, but I’ve taken the Road to Damascus.

An idiomatic expression referring to a great and sudden change in a person’s ideas or beliefs, the Road to Damascus is not an easy path to take. For one thing, there’s pride.

See, I used to hate blogs. I despised every single page of it like pickles on my hotdog. I remember myself asking, what’s with these people writing daily entries about their daily lives, and worse, what makes people read them? When did journals become so public? Since when did diaries become open property? Besides, who the hell cares if you grew a wisdom tooth this morning, saw your crush in the lobby, and found out that Nick Lachey is now single? I’m sure your parents would, or your bestest bestest friends, or your posies, or homeys, or whatever it is you call them, but I don’t! Jeez, the crap that people come up with. On a daily basis, at that!

I tried. Believe me, I did. I tried to understand what these people are going through and discover what the fuss is all about by making my own blog. But it did not last long. One post and I had to delete it.

And then I chanced upon seeing others. Other blogs posted by other people who apparently has other things better to do than posting mundane things in their blogs. Theirs were unique, amusing, and yes, sometimes even educational. And then I realized that I have been misled. That the entries I was forcefully trying to swallow don’t represent the entire blogging community. There are, in fact, some entries that are worth reading. Thought –provoking. Stimulating.

And so I decided, I will make one. Again. This time, I will jump into the bandwagon and take my blindfold off. I decided to do it without pride or prejudice. Besides, sooner or later, I have to stop those people who kept bugging me to start blogging, and use my insomnia to be more productive. Alright, people. You win. I give in.

So to all loyal bloggers out there who have been offended by my callous remarks above, I apologize. I hope you find my posts worthy of your time. Call it poetic justice but I am now one of you guys. I hope you welcome me back like the prodigal son.

‘Nuff said. Let’s blog.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

You're in advertising? Cool!

Let’s set the record straight. In my 5 years of working in the industry, people have asked me what I do for a living. And every time I tell them that I work in advertising, they always have the same giddy remark. “Cool!”

So to all of you who think landing a job as a copywriter in a prestigious multinational advertising agency is pretty funky, you’re right. To those who think that it’s hip to write TV commercials, print ads and radio spots and then scream at the top of your lungs or in your head when there’s no one around (otherwise you’re a nutjob) “I did that!” every time you see your work on print, hear your ad on the radio or watch your commercial on the boob tube, once again, you are right. And to the curious individuals who presume that a career in advertising is financially rewarding, well, let’s just say you are not mistaken. But if you think that working in the creative department of an ad agency is all glamour, vanity, and hedonistic fun, well, I hate to spoil the party but you’re most definitely wrong missy.

Yeah it’s true that we get to play video games in our own workstations (see, in advertising, that’s what we call cubicles. Cool, huh?), get to surf porn and download mp3s for “inspiration” on our next ad, or get to work and exchange chit chats with famous celebrities during shootings and parties, but that’s just about the fun part. See, unlike boring routine jobs where you work in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week operating the same procedures, making the same calls, meeting the same people or filing the same reports over and over, we do get the chance to walk out of the office, eat free buffets during shoots and hobnob with a lot of people from all walks of life on a fairly “routine” basis. No offense meant, (lower your eyebrows now), my wife works in a bank, and those boring routine stuff is exactly what she complains about day in and day out. All I’m saying is unlike other jobs, ours is a little more flexible, a little more unpredictable, and a little more than the usual. But the thing is, it’s also a little more stressful. Now I’m being polite. Hell, it’s a lot more stressful! It’s true. I wouldn’t write it with an exclamation point if it’s not.

First of all, we have to deal with deadlines. Now, there’s a reason why they call it a “dead” line, simply put, it means that if you don’t reach it, you’re dead. There’s also the fact that we use the right side of the brain more than the left. Accountants, bankers and call center employees use most of their left brain for numbers, speech, and analysis, while we abuse the right. It’s a thinking job, where there’s no formula, no fixed rules nor complicated equations, just a lot of God-given talent and imagination. Some advertising gurus would even attest that advertising creatives are born, not made. You can’t learn to be creative. You have to have “it”, like a supermodel with an X Factor. And knowing that all it takes is to think, imagine, and draw a concept in your brain with a simple brief, a single line of an objective in mind, is like producing a rabbit out of an empty hat. It’s creating something out of nothing. It’s trying to sell an overpriced soap with no unique benefits and make it the preferred brand of mothers in the Philippines. And since we mentioned selling, let’s not forget that the role of an advertising creative doesn’t end with a brilliantly crafted tagline or an eye catching layout. You have to sell it, first, to your peers, then to the client for approval, and ultimately, to the market.

And then, there’s the working schedule. Time is flexible in advertising but only if there’s no “sabit” (that’s adspeak for a deadline). Wanna hunt for some DVDs in Makati Cinema Square after lunch? Go ahead. Want to go straight home after a 4 pm meeting with a client in Ortigas? Bring your bag already. Just make sure that you’re not leaving a deadline for granted. Heck, if you finish your sabit a day ahead and you have nothing to do the morning after, you can oversleep and come in before (or even after) lunch and no one would mind. But come crunch time, you have to be prepared. If the shoot is scheduled on a weekend, kiss your Saturday mall time with the kids goodbye because you’re coming to work. There are even times when we work 48 to 72 hours straight, getting only 3 to 4 hours nap in the office to re-fuel. Working that long, you have to wonder how we handle our love life. Not easy. In fact, I’ve seen to many people, heard too many cases of split-ups around the industry, and I can’t blame their partners. Whether we like it or not, we are married to our jobs, like doctors to his patients and lawyers to his cases. We are fated to miss birthdays, reunions and even Christmas Eves with the family if our jobs get in the way. My boss even jokes that we are worse than whores. At least they get paid more by the hour.

All those hitches aside, life in advertising can be really rewarding. You get to face new challenges on a daily basis, new demands, new barriers that were never there before. And overcoming these obstacles is very fulfilling. It’s what motivates you to push harder and dig deeper to outdo your last performance. Because, in advertising, you’re only as good as your last great ad. And speaking of great ads, there are award-giving bodies that recognize your work where you can create your mark in advertising history. Locally, there’s the Ad Congress or Araw Awards, Creative Guild, and Diwa Awards. And then there’s Cannes, Clio, New York Ad Fest or The One Show, to name a few – a host of international recognition given to the carefully selected few.

Sure, there are a lot of other jobs that are way cooler than advertising. Like that of Hugh Hefner’s or Ron Jeremy’s, or the game testers of Playstation 3. But for now, I cannot think of anything else I’d enjoy doing than copywriting. Ultimately, not long from now (I hope), I would like to move on to commercial filmmaking. Be the one to call the shots (literally and figuratively), and make my mark further in the industry.

So, is working in advertising cool, funky, phat or hip? Most definitely. Do I love my job? Absolutely. Should you join us? Maybe. But then again, wherever you are, always remember that the key to a successful career is not the financial reward, the car plan nor the cash incentives. The single most important thing is that you love what you’re doing. See, you could be a customer care representative, a car salesman, a bank manager or a bookkeeper, but at the end of the day, like all things in life, and however cheesy it may sound, love is all that matters.