EDSA Guadalupe in 2011.  The last few days of the giant billboard.
There is a term which may not be easily grasped by millennials these days.  The term is Y2K.  Those who have been around know what kind of fuzz there was prior to the coming of the new millennium.  Yes, there was excitement in the dawning of the year 2000, but also a bit of fear as doomsayers said that the world banking systems would crash given the millennium bug.

Such was the mood back then.  Opportunity mixed with risks.  It was not any different in the scene of advertising agencies. A few years prior to the millennium, media independents started taking rise.  Media independents were characterized by the un-bundling of the media department services and spinning off to become an independent business unit.

Whereas once upon a time, advertising agency work was typically characterized by the men in suits and the wacky creatives, the media people who were the supposedly the boring number crunchers in the backroom suddenly gained more importance.

Media selection had to become more targeted and thoroughly selected.  Gone were the days of shooting from the hip with a TV-radio-print template.

First to go the media independent way in this market was the media group of J. Walter Thompson.  Mindshare was birthed to plan and buy media not just for JWT Philippines but also for sister agency, Ogilvy.  

Minda R. Lansang, then VP for Media, of JWT Philippines was the seasoned trailblazer in this space running the Mindshare shop with a few expats. Not too far away in what was then Herrera Street (now V.A. Rufino), Universal Media, the media department of McCann-Erickson Philippines evolved into UniversalMcCann (UM).

The work of media planning and buying became more intricate as agencies had to utilize their insights into consumer buying behavior and media consumption habits to devise strategic media plans. The purpose was to ensure significant reach so that the target audience will see, read or hear the advertisement. 

At about that time, Out-Of-Home media was hardly bought by advertising agencies.  Most OOH placements were direct buys between client and OOH vendor.  In fact, there was no fancy term as OOH then.  It was simply billboard, Pearl & Dean, neon, and outdoor advertising.  Those were the terms known to agencies and marketers.

12'x36' G.I. sheet handpainted billboard on Roxas Boulevard (photo from Advertising Associates, Inc.)
There was an economical reason for agencies to do so at that time.  Booking outdoor was not simply worth the time and effort because of the minimal cost of media.  Even at a luxurious commission of 15% (luxurious by today's standards), there was no sense in having to get a 15% from a 10,000 peso per month billboard made on Galvanized Iron sheets and hand painted with enamel, mounted on wooden structures.

Those who were at EDSA during the people power revolution remember that billboard which had "The Family That Prays Together Stays Together" at the corner where Robinsons Galeria is today.  That was the iconic example of a 12'x36' billboard.

I grew up in that environment.  Back in Bacolod City, my late father, Larry Tronco, ran Tronco Advertising Co., Inc. doing all the San Miguel Beer "Ito and Beer" ads in the late 1970s.

 (to be continued)

Lloyd Tronco is a Certified Digital Marketer and Out-Of-Home Media Strategist.  His experience in OOH Media spans being a vendor for OOH in the Visayas and Mindanao as well as being one of the pioneer OOH Media Strategists in the Philippines at the turn of the millennium. 

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