November 28, 2011

Dark Days and Glory Days

These days when my heart swells in overflowing gratitude for all our blessings, I cannot help but look back on our early days as a penniless, office-less independent agency.

Our first pitch was for PSBank. To make the long story short, we won that pitch on the basis of strategy and creatives. Shortly after winning, our Clients from the Marketing Department also told us that they had a lengthy discussion with the bank president and vice-president on the kind of risk they are taking by choosing us over multinationals and more established agencies.

We were then only in our second month of operations. We didn’t have an office yet because we didn’t have the money for office space, so we only worked on the pitch in malls, coffee shops and in the houses of our two officemates/co-founders. For our clients (who are risk-averse, conservative bankers), their decision to go with an agency that may potentially fold up within its first year seemed not a very wise decision.

Fortunately, they liked our work so much that they listened to their intuition. One of the VPs even said that he actually liked it that we had a mind of our own and we were bold enough to give up a stable career to venture into business. Essentially, they made a non-banker decision by officially awarding the account to us.

Another significant pitch was that of Resorts World Manila. We worked on that account while we were all in the condo unit. We used to go to work in shirts and shorts and flip-flops. And we would discuss strategies and concepts while lying down on the bed, watching American Idol (Lee DeWyze’s and Crystal Bowersox’s season) and other movies on TV. In the afternoon, some of us would go down for a swim. If we have to stay late for work, we’d cook sausages or canned goods. We were like college kids doing a thesis in one’s dorm.

But it wasn’t always fun. Starting a business was an alien concept to us. There were days when we actually thought we’d have better chances of surviving if we just disintegrate.

Two years after, we are still around. It is a tribute to our fake confidence (!) and eternal optimism that we managed to make the business profitable even without a CFO to plan our finances (we just took a short finance course and that's it!).

We have come a long way from the time when we were showing up for work in what will pass off as fashionable pambahay ;-) Those were scary times but those were also our best times, when we were able to test our tenacity and resolve to survive even in the most unpleasant circumstances.

So… matter what happens (let’s just say we get luckier and luckier in the future, win more blue-chip accounts, get more awards, take a more fabulous office address), I think we'd still be the same old bunch of guys who once lugged our Macbooks (we were poor but we were proud) in coffee shops, malls and a friend's apartment to do an honest day's work.

Looking back is good. 

November 27, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over

Sometime last September, I have already prematurely given thanks for a year that has so far been so good. December is just a breath away and I am happy to say that the early gratitude for the whole year of 2011 has been yes, premature, but nonetheless prophetic.

The ad that announced our new venture.
Surviving Business

I stayed in multinational companies most of my life until around two years ago, when we set up our own advertising agency. The first year was tough but we survived. It was extremely difficult with back-to-back-to-back pitches that consumed all of us emotionally and physically. I had two meltdowns because I spent much too much time at work and therefore missed much too much time with my family.

This year, our pitches were less in number but better in terms of quality. There were accounts that just got awarded to us on account of our credentials. Meaning, I had plenty of time as well to hug my husband and my kids. I only need to have this kind of balance in my life. I won’t ask for anything more.

My officemates onstage during Araw Awards. 
Recognition From The Industry

As luck would have it, we got even more blessings in the form of  7 awards in the last Ad Congress. It is a good number even for established ad agencies. More so for start-ups.

Appreciation From Our Clients

One of the ads that won is our TVC for their Car Loan, which got two Silver awards. In appreciation of our efforts, the President of PSBank gave us a GPS and with that came a speech saying how proud he is of us.

The president of Resorts World was also extremely happy with the Gold awards we got for their ad and a celebration at the exclusive Genting Club has been scheduled for this week.

We are lucky to be surrounded by good people and to be in a very supportive industry.

November 24, 2011

We Won! We Won!

I didn’t go to the Ad Congress in CamSur because I wanted to spend the weekend with my kids. But all of us in the office are excited about the Araw Awards because it is our company’s first time to join.

By noontime Saturday, we were already thrilled to know that most of our entries made it as finalists! Then the long wait began for news if these finalists garnered some metals.

By nighttime, all the text messages from Cam Sur poured in. 

Gold metal for Resorts World Manila for Music. Silver for Editing.

2 Silver metals for PSBank Auto Loan TVC, Best in Strategy/Araw Excellence.

Silver for PSBank Home Loan TVC, Best in Strategy. Bronze for Araw Excellence.

Bronze for our advocacy campaign on Human Trafficking.

7 metals. A fitting yearender milestone for a company founded by seven people. 

November 23, 2011

No-Brainer Fashion

Black may be too safe, too boring and unexciting.  But what I like about it is it being such a foolproof wear. You can just never go wrong with it.

Such was my mindset one particularly lazy day when I didn’t want to think much of what to wear. So I just grabbed an old black dress, immediately feeling comfortable in its “safe-ness”.

When I got to the office, there were a lot of us wearing black. The guys from the creative department fancied taking our picture and they chose black and white to push its dramatic effect. We were not allowed to smile (the Creative Guys sometimes trip on us, Suits). But I like the resulting effect.

Sometimes I wonder—how can a color be safe, boring, unexciting and also dramatic, fierce and awesome at the same time?

Linking up today with my blog friend, Kymmie, who is Fancy Pants and all.

November 19, 2011

It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas

 The kids have been asking me to put up the Christmas tree even before Halloween so immediately after our Halloween weekend, their Dad and I finally relented and brightened our house with some decors.

So this week, I am grateful for:

Christmas trees and Christmas lanterns

We come home from work, sometimes beat-up from the stress of the deadlines and the horrible traffic, but when we turn to our street, we see our Christmas lanterns and we instantly feel alright.

Family traditions

My kids have written their letters to Santa with their promises (Unna’s: controlling her temper. Laila’s: not sucking her fingers anymore) and their wishes (“a two-wheel bike, please but if that’s not possible, then a Thea Stilton book will do”).

I did write my letters as a kid. My husband and I agreed that we will make them go through the same childhood tradition of believing in Santa (and the Tooth Fairy). You get to be a kid only once and we want them to experience magic and wonderment while they are in that stage.

Christmas cheer

With all these lights and décor, the excitement of kids anticipating Santa’s gifts, making lists and all, the Christmas songs on repeat mode, tell me, who wouldn’t be glad?


Spreading some Holiday joy from Manila to the rest of Maxabella’s party of gratefuls.

November 14, 2011

Hectic Weekends

For a change, my weekends are more hectic than my weekdays beginning the last week of October. We have so far done:

The Sound of Music at Resorts World Manila

Julie Andrews gave such an unforgettable performance as Maria that I initially thought no mere mortal deserves to do it again. But Joanna Ampil bravely took on the role and showed that she has the pipes for the very difficult songs from this much-loved musical.

Office parties

Our balcony is the coolest party place in Makati. And it’s such a cheap place to have fun.

Cosplay Competition

I cannot believe the kind of craftsmanship that went into each of the costumes. Here are some of my faves.

Puss In Boots

As ad people, our ears are very sensitive to the actors who voice the characters in animated films. Antonio Banderas has been great as Puss In Boots in all Shrek movies but he outdid himself in this movie. Awesome voice acting here from Banderas. I hope they’re already planning the sequel. And did you see the Puss Happy Meal toy? It's the cutest!

Game Of Thrones

It is a wonder that I was able to extricate myself for a few minutes from reading this book.

It is sooooo addicting. I have just started two weeks ago and I am already consumed by it. My eyes are all puffy from staying up late (I once stayed up ‘til 3 am because I just couldn’t put the damn book down). I'm just in Book 1. Lots more to go, yey!

So there. If you didn’t notice, I’m kinda rushing this piece so I can go back to reading.

Life is good. Bye.

November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011

Growing up, we didn’t even celebrate Halloween. But recently, it has become so big and widely celebrated that by the time I began having children, my mind was already conditioned to jump in on this merry occasion.

Let’s start with our décor. This year, we thought of lining up all our Barbie and Bratz dolls for a quick inventory. (Note: I know we have an excessive number of dolls for two girls. But I only bought two dolls. The rest of the dolls are hand-me-downs from my three tween nieces and my 38-year-old sister. Some people give jewelry, designer bags and other heirlooms to the next generation. My family gives Barbie dolls.)

Anyways, we decided to witchify these dolls. I must say that the Barbie dolls, even with their broomsticks, witches’ hats, and black tops still look sickeningly sweet and pweetty.

The Bratz dolls though look perfect for the part. Harharhar. Notice the hanging hand inside our little gate.
My girls also had a great time during the Halloween weekend. Party number 1 was held at their school where the kids came in Vietnamese and Japanese costumes.

Party number 2 at a friend’s village.

Party number 3 at our own village. We have treats to last us until December. Sucrose overdose!