Sunday, March 04, 2007
22. Cutting My Teeth In Advertising
One of the more enjoyable tasks is television production work. My boss, Noli Agcaoili was among the pioneers and a master of the “live” television commercials. He was my mentor in this commercial genre that was popularly used in the early sixties until video tape recording made the practice obsolete. Noli, who was handicapped by polio at an early age would later found NOVA, a manpower institution which enabled the physically challenged to transcend their limitations and have gainful livelihoods.
Noli was a good mentor and soon enough I learned to go it alone. He quickly placed the whole responsibility of “live commercials” on my lap and concentrated on account management. Later I could understand why he was so eager to get out of it. “Live commercials” can be hazardous to one’s physical and emotional wellbeing. As his assistant I had to write scripts for these “live” commercials. “Live” commercials were advertisements that were aired as they were delivered in the studio. In the days when there were no video tape recordings and the cost of film production could only be afforded by the big multinational brands the “live” commercials thrived for a while but was doomed to extinction because of its predisposition to disaster. There was no room for mistakes in this type of television commercials. You don’t have the luxury of doing “takes”. The commercial went on air with mistakes and all. You would age five years each time a blooper was made on air.
I congratulated the participants and thanked the cameramen, the technical director and other production staff for a job well done. As I was gathering my stuff I was told that I had a phone call. As soon as the voice on the other end came through I knew that it was my client, JCJ, the son in law of Salvador Araneta now better known as JoeCon.
Expecting a compliment I asked him what he thought of the commercial just aired. In a voice that was one octave higher he said “Roa…why did you clear your throat during the commercial! In a food commercial you are not supposed to clear your throat!” I had to clear my throat to manage a guttural apology. I was relieved that the booboo did not cost me my job. My boss received the brunt of our client’s ire, which he then relayed to me with even more intensity. This would not be the last of my tv bloopers.
There I was, experiencing first hand the epic mental tussles and the eloquent arguments brought to bear on business decisions. Nothing beats learning coming directly from the great business thinkers and captains of industry. You also learn from the mediocrity of thought coming from the lesser lights in clients’ organization. I was determined to learn my new trade. I read all the books and periodicals on advertising and media that I could get my hands on. The readings had to be squeezed in to my busy schedule.
There was great interest and enjoyment in what I was doing. I said to myself that perhaps I have found my true calling. Little did I know that there was so much ahead of me. At 22 it was too early to say that that was it.
Work really mounted up as my “bosses” learned that I could do more things for them. With so many things being asked of me, I had to bring home some of them to cope with the burgeoning work. I did “live” commercials for Volkswagen and Radioweatlth with Tita Munoz as my talent and House of Ramie with Margie Santa Maria every week. I had fun doing Beetle advertising. It was a product that thrived on being made fun of. There was no limit to the abuse you can inflict on it because it was a smug and confident brand.
I prepared media plans for all the clients’ products and sometimes visualizing print ads and was also given small clients to manage. After a few months I had a promotion of sorts and had the title of Radio-TV director. It did not entail an increase in pay but the title really gave me a high.