|The compre of that PLDT print ad I did so long ago.|
On MVP leaving Ateneo
by rick olivares
In 1996, I was working for Avellana & Associates as a senior copywriter. I was wrapping up my stint there and was either headed for J. Walter Thompson or abroad (I chose the latter). There was talk then that we could lose the PLDT account that generated much of Avellana’s revenue. The company had been bought by the Hong Kong based First Pacific Company and rumors were rife that the telecomms company was moving to Saatchi. Nevertheless, I was still on board for a few more JOs (job orders) as we called them. The acquisition was to be made known through among many other things, a print ad.
And I was asked to do it. I was coming off a few vastly successful campaigns with a few ones winning advertising awards. But with PLDT, I was nervous. It was like working on Philippine Airlines before. Read: tough, stressful, and well, stressful.
Now I didn’t really know MVP. I heard of what he accomplished in Hong Kong and Indonesia but it was kind of vague. Our client then, the one I liaised with was Tony Samson, who nowadays aside from writing for Business World and ateneo.edu, is with DDB (the ad agency for Gatorade where I currently work -- Mindshare actually).
“A centerspread ad in the major dailies that celebrates the sale and how the five different companies under PLDT – PLDT, Smart, Piltel (now Talk ‘N Text), Infocom (the internet system that was being stabilized), and the Mabuhay Satellite – will work in greater concert to become the class of Asia,” I recall Mr. Samson saying about the creative brief.
The first thing that I normally do is to devour the brief and research as much information as I can so when I come up with a concept it looks informed and well thought out. What popped in my head was the five companies working like the starting five of a basketball team. I sketched a rough layout for a couple of ads and showed it to my art director. We prepared three concepts complete with compres and all (I still have all the designs including many of my thumbnail sketches for ads and storyboards as I also dabbled in illustration).
I was rooting not for the basketball concept but for something else. Now since client is king…. My art director and I came up with several designs. One was a clasp of hands during a huddle that was my favorite. Somehow we ended up with a layout I wasn’t wholly crazy about (there was another execution I favored). But it came out and that it is all that matters. Job done. Billings. Hopefully, client is happy.
I did leave in a few weeks moving into the client side and a marketing job (by then I had done advertising and public relations and marketing I believed would complete the trinity and make me a better person when it comes to work).
Never did I think I’d get to meet MVP until more than a decade later when I first began to write about the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the Ateneo website and later for Smart Gilas Pilipinas during the national team’s initial foray abroad. When I first learned of his being team patron in the early years of the new millennium, I thought back to the basketball-themed print ad of so many years ago. He loved hoops. No wonder he chose that concept.
One time, I found myself in MVP’s office interviewing him for a story for ateneo.edu. What was supposed to be a 30-minute interview went up to one hour. And what further struck me was he wasn’t late for the interview despite his busy schedule.
There was more for me to be impressed. I wrote him on two separate occasions and I was surprised that each time, he answered my email. Here’s a man who is so busy that I am sure that there are never enough hours in the day yet he took the time to answer a few questions and ideas I had percolating in my head. Wow. Of course, I like to think that the email was pertinent and not trivial.
One time while sitting idly around following a basketball game, I asked him, “Sir, how do you manage your time with all your companies and concerns?”
He smiled and said in a deliberate manner, “Very carefully. Very carefully.”
We both cracked up.
That says something about the man. He just doesn’t dive into things without doing due diligence.
Ironically today, I sat in the office of an Ateneo official talking about schools and their patrons and wondered if we were prepared for MVP leaving one day. When I got home and opened my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, I was shocked to read of his “complete and total disengagement from the Ateneo.”
Honestly, the first thing that popped into my head wasn’t the basketball program. Come on. There are more important things in life than basketball. As great as he is for the sports program, I think I value more how he helps school orgs and the facilities. Teaching in Ateneo today, I always tell myself that today’s kids never had it so good. Back in the day, we didn’t have much save for a beautiful campus.
I have known first hand of the problems that keep coming back like a bad itch. This was a long time coming what with differences and scars on various issues that have cropped up over the years. What I told myself upon hearing the news and reading the statement that Dennis Lucindo posted was, “This one is over.”
I understand both sides of the coin and am neither angry with anyone. It is what it is – differences. They happen. They just do.
There will be no doubt attempts to bridge this and to extend an olive branch to sort this out now or tomorrow. What comes of this I have no idea.
Nevertheless, I am not going to wait. I do want to take the opportunity to thank MVP for all that he’s done for Ateneo (he’s only pulling out of his alma mater and not the country). He has been mighty generous and we should be forever grateful.
While I am sad it has come to this, by nature, I grieve for a moment then move on. I guess living in an unforgiving New York climate does that to you. Unlike my crappy boss who looks for people to blame, I on the other hand am a solutions-oriented person. My Plan A has a Plan B and Plan C and D if possible.
This is what I have been saying, Ateneo. Do we have a Plan B or Plan C to MVP pulling out? Not just for this but also for many other things from us being on the fault line to the traffic that chokes Katipunan Avenue and the eyesore that is SM Blue (the matuwid na daan is nothing more than a clever PR line that at the end of the day is full of crap). Things happen and well, we have to be ready. Ready to move on and at once ready to bridge the gap.
I guess it’s like family. We quarrel. We get upset. Some times, the differences are more than a gap. They are a chasm or the great divide. I have my issues with family as well but at the end of the day, we’re family. We'll patch things up and well, we'll kick back and laugh at our travails and pitfalls.
So a heartfelt thank you from me for all you’ve done for our school. I like to think of the old tagline for PLDT – “Touching lives.” Yes, that is so.
If this is done as I fear it is (but hope not), I want to quote some lines from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” that says,
“Must end that work the ides of March begun.
And whether we shall meet again I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewell take.
Forever and forever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do not meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.”
One Big Fight, sir.