My nephew, Kyle Gozo, a young, classy art director, set up his own shop with a partner last year. He’s a Fil-American, the Tom Cruise kind who finished his Advertising course at Columbia University in Chicago.
Kyle brings to the profession a high-end “signature look.” Kyle’s forte is brand design for beauty and personal-care products.
I talked to Kyle recently and to fast-track the road to money and fame, I went straight to the point. I said, “Hit your home runs!”
A home run is breakthrough advertising. It grabs huge market shares. It creates brand leadership. It upstages competition.
Everything about home run advertising is distinctive and highly involving—its product positioning, its promise, its ad execution, and its chemistry with the consumer.
A home run is unstoppable, an “over the bakod,” like when Barry Bonds swats the ball to the blue yonder, impossible to catch.
Home runs delight clients to the extreme. They’ll admire you forever. They’ll think you’re a genius.
I hit my first home run in 1968 without any help from group brainstorming, the common approach in creating advertising. I was by my lonesome self and had no marketing data at all. All I had was plenty of good ol’ common sense.
Our client was TWA, the huge US airline with regular flights from Manila to US cities. But it was flying with empty seats on certain days.
TWA manager Diego Garrido, a brash and devilishly handsome mestizo, wanted to launch a fly-now-pay-later plan to solve the problem, but he didn’t have an advertising strategy.
TWA was running on radio a made-in-USA commercial, “Up, up and away,” based on a hit song “McArthur’s Park,” composed by Jimmy Webb. It was a big hit as a song, but irrelevant in selling a fly-now-pay-later plan.
I knew right away persons who’d like to buy them—nurses! I have lots of women friends from my hometown who just finished their nursing courses and were aching to go to the US for big pay and the American dreams lifestyle.
I also knew they bought their feminine accessories, earrings, necklaces, rings, and Bulova watches paluwagan. That was it! I would create a brand called TWA Paluwagan and advertise it on AM radio. I would transform “Up, up, and away” from a classy American song to a totally probinsyano idea. I wrote a Taglish jingle which went:
Mataas ang lipad
Mababa ang bayad
Biyaheng paluwagan sa TWA
Up, up, and away TWA
I didn’t give a hoot about bringing down TWA’s classy American image to my promdi baduy level.
I got Ruben Tagalog, the Kundiman King of the ’60s, to sing my jingle, to the accompaniment of a banduria group from Bulacan. When I heard my masterpiece, I nearly died laughing. Pinoy na Pinoy ang dating.
We aired it on AM radio for three days, Friday to Sunday.
The following Monday, a fired-up Diego Garrido was on the phone, first thing in the morning.
The line, Diego exclaimed, was a block long from his office at the Hilton in UN Avenue.
Wow! Advertising really works!
I learned two big lessons that day, which became my philosophy and personal niche in the ad industry.
The first is to hit home runs because client’s money must deliver the return of investment for his advertising expense and deliver an increase in sales revenue.
The second is that I must think, feel and talk Filipino to the mass market, which comprises 90 percent of all consumers.
The big reason why Jollibee’s Langhap-Sarap became our all-time biggest homerun was because I viewed Tony Tan’s burger mix from the perspective of our cuisine culture.
Our signal for delicious food is its appetizing aroma. It has to smell mouth-watering as it sizzles in the griddle, all the way to the first and last bite.
Langhap-Sarap is the biggest home run in the history of marketing in the Philippines—two Tagalog words that started a fast-food empire in Asia, America and the Middle East. Two Tagalog words that make mouths water. Langhap-Sarap. Unbeatable.
In the ’80s and ’90s, our agency, ranked 34th, fast-tracked to no. 1 when we hit home runs one after the other.
Among them were, DBP’s Palabra de Honor and Pamilyang Uliran; Palmolive’s I Can Feel It and Hiyang Shampoo; Duty Free’s Babalik Ka Rin; RFM’s Sarsi, Angat sa Iba and Bagong Tunog; Warner Lambert’s Chicletin Mo, Baby; Benadryl’s Reseta ng Doktor; Three Flowers Pomade’s Lalaking Disente; and Lucky Me’s Inay, Taga-Ayos, Taga-Plantsa, Taga-Luto.
As I grew in age I realized that hitting home runs applies marvelously to all facets of my professional life. The concept is deep with insights on using human virtues to excel in one’s work. There’s a lot of athleticism in it—dedication, hard work, discipline. Practice makes perfect. The winning edge.
In business, hitting home runs was the same principle in best-selling management books which became the bible in many executive suites: Peter Drucker’s “Management by Objectives”; Tom Peter’s “Search for Excellence”; and Masaaki Imai’s “Kaisen,” the Japanese management principles which our agency used in our yearly corporate planning for continuous improvement and goal-setting.
Now that I’m in my senior years, I further realized that on our spiritual level, hitting home runs is an excellent metaphor for enriching the practice of our Christian faith.
“Be ye perfect as your father in Heaven is perfect.”
Christianity’s call for universal holiness has reverberated throughout the world since the time of Jesus Christ.
Today, many Christians and non-Christians have discovered an innovative way to personal holiness. The inspiration came from our modern day saint, St. Josemaria Escriva. His version of hitting a home run is “the sanctification in daily work in the fulfillment of ordinary work of a Christian.”
This winsome way to holiness makes it easy for us to be a loving and obedient child to God our Father. We simply perform our ordinary duties to Him, to our families and to our society, in an extraordinary way. Be the best that we can be.
Hitting home runs to score for a place in heaven. What a great idea!