Wednesday, March 28, 2007

44. Media Work

In the media department I had two media planners who both came from market research. Our General Marketing Manager, Bert Timbol, was originally from market research and this could explain the mobility of market researchers within the marketing division. One of the planners, Cely Corpuz was from the field interviewers group. She was married to a supervisor in the personnel department. Cely in time would go up the ladder in the marketing services division and assume several important positions. Even after retirement PRC hired her as a consultant. The other planner, Sandy Mombay, was formerly a shop audit field man. Two other members of the team were Ronnie Montelibano, the budget supervisor and Flor Santos, his assistant.

Media Briefing in launch conference
Ronnie is quite a peculiar person. He was the best golfer in PRC at that time. He came from a prominent family in Bacolod and like most scions of these families he spent most of his time in the golf course. Despite his privileged background Ronnie was as timid as a mouse and had a tentativeness about him. He was the type of person who would not dare assert himself even in the most needful situations. An anecdote the brand group will find difficult to forget was when he was playing liar’s dice with the then Marketing Manager, Gus Villanueva. Gus was the epitome of the young, confident and aggressive marketing man who gets impatient with any wishy-washiness shown by subordinates. Ronnie was pushed into a corner by the last call of Gus. He had a lot of aces in his box and just couldn’t make up his mind. Gus couldn’t contain his impatience and in his usual abrasive self shouted at him, “Tira na Bakla!” (“make a call you faggot!”). Ronnie fidgeting in contained agitation shouted back without looking up “eight sixes…tarantado!!” (“eight sixes you addle headed fool!!”) Stunned by Ronnie’s retort it took a few seconds before Gus could shake off his shock then burst into laughter, throwing his dice box in the air and then left the room. We could still hear his laughter even as he reached the end of the corridor. Hooray for Ronnie!

Two Eds

My staff was a hardworking lot. We didn’t have the luxury of computers at that time so the myriad details in media schedules (especially for radio) had to be worked out manually. There were several brands that were into national advertising. The planners had to monitor their placements, keep track of commercial materials on air, make estimates of audience consumption of media based on latest surveys, check on soap opera properties in more than forty radio cities, do forward placement reservations for the trimedia and vigilantly observe movements of Colgate and P&G media placements.

There was a regular schedule of media trips to look into the production centers of our soap operas, check technical facilities and their upkeep. Most of the time, my assistant and I traveled with the ad agency’s media executives. Our big boss the General Marketing Manager, Bert Timbol was fond of making these trips and would often accompany us. When the big boss traveled with us the agency saw to it that they match the ranks of the clients’ traveling party. The essential working party could be reduced to just two people, one from each company but with the agency’s policy of rank matching it became a sizeable crowd. From the agency’s end at least one vice president will be in the entourage. The most frequent accompanying big man from the agency would be, Jay Jay Calero, the account supervisor for the PRC account who would later on become the JWT, Phils. President. He was a very likeable person who had a knack for maintaining good relationships with everybody in PRC marketing. As a member of the Opus Dei he was a bit of a spoilsport who saw to it that our evenings were spent together, short of tucking us in bed at the end of each day. He would insist that everybody would be on wake-up call at five thirty in the morning and trek to the nearest church for mass. Occasionally, one of the guys would feign a bum tummy at dinnertime and would excuse himself for an early night. We would find out later that this was all a ruse to free himself from the group and enjoy the evening delights with the local media guys.

There would at least be five of us in the entourage who were poker players.. In addition to the top bosses there was Nap Cruz, JWT’s media buyer, Frido Ong, senior account representative for PRC who later would marry Yoly Villanueva, owner of Campaigns ad agency and Ed Cruz, my assistant. It was as if being a poker player was a qualification for inclusion in the travel party. Most of our free hours were spent on a poker table. The only time we did not play poker was on flight. We played poker in the Visayan ferry crossing, we had makeshift tables set up on the road, in hotel rooms and when traveling the length of Luzon Bert Timbol would borrow the Consumer Research Van from the market research department. The Consumer Research Van was a first in the research industry. It was customized to have a living room setup complete with television and other basic items of a small household. The van was used for doing group discussion work and ad materials testing. With this facility our time for poker was greatly extended.

Willy Ocampo, Bert Timbol, Ed R, Jay Jay Calero

One time we were playing poker in a hotel in Cebu when I had to excuse myself to answer a phone call from the office in Manila. It took some time before I could come back to the table. I offered my apologies for the disruption and the game resumed. It was a seven card stud and I was dealt a pair of aces in hand. At the flop an ace was dealt which gave me a trio of aces with two cards to go. The other cards in the flop were a king and a queen. I made a cautious bet and three of the guys stayed while one dropped out. The fourth displayed card was another ace which gave me a fantastic “cuadro de ace”. The cards on the table were showing a pair of aces, a queen and a King. I had an almost unbeatable hand and did not push in all my money because another round of betting was still to happen. The bet was a sizeable one but two players Frido and Jay Jay chose to stay. I was quite sure that at least one would have a trio of Kings and possibly another had a trio of Queens. The last card dealt on the table was a King...somebody made a “cuadro King”. Now my joy was complete and without much hesitation pushed in all the money I had to the center of the table. After a bit of wavering Ed said he was in but could not cover the entire bet and pushed the last of the few chips towards the pot and JJ counted the size of the bet, set aside the pot that Ed played and since he had enough chips he covered the bet. Ed showed a Queen and a Jack in hand, a two pair hand, Jay Jay asked me what I have got. Absolutely sure that Jay Jay would have a cuadro King I slapped the two aces on the table and proceeded to gather the pot to my side of the table. “not so fast…not so fast” he said. And having said that he bared his ten and Jack of hearts which complimented the Queen, King and Ace of hearts on the table, a royal flush. I slumped on the chair looking devastated, still in disbelief that my four aces was beaten. I excused myself to go out for a breath of air after the debacle. As I sidled towards the door Jay Jay stopped me and said that he will return my money. “You won it fair and square. It’s yours” I said. As if on cue everybody at the table burst out laughing. It irritated me to see everyone so happy at my misfortune until JJ explained that it was all a set up. They had fixed the deck while I was on the phone.

Media houses often organize get-togethers for PRC as opportunities to present new programs, enhanced technical facilities and as a venue to have the marketing people meet the media sales group. Media parties have always been fun. Sumptuous food, flowing drinks, lively conversations with movie and TV stars and entertainment from singers in their talent pool are the usual fare in these events. The brand group loved these events and would go to lengths to be invited. Ding Salvador, a brand manager, like most in marketing, was fond of attending these media socials and would constantly remind me to have him in the guest list. I don’t know what gave him the notion that I controlled the number of invitees. Actually, I inform everyone in marketing about these except on a few occasions when the media house issued personalized invitations to a limited few.

Ding was a brash and aggressive guy who loved to be in the center of things. The word bombastic was coined with this guy in mind but despite his loudness and ebullience he did not come across as obnoxious. It was as if all these intense and robust characteristics were a perfect fit into the personality that was naturally a Ding Salvador. I guess it was this peculiarity that propelled him to great heights in his career, the crowning glory of which was his appointment as President of the multinational Johnson and Johnson for the whole ASEAN.

I found media work enjoyable. My responsibilities were extended to include commercial production but mostly on budget control. The media budget of the brands included the cost of producing radio-TV commercials as well as the cost of artworks and mechanicals of print ads. This gave me the opportunity to attend internal discussions and agency briefings on commercial production as well as pre production meetings with the agency and film suppliers. The knowledge gained from these would prove useful in a future appointment.

No comments: