By Marlet D. Salazar, Ansbert Joaquin - Inquirer
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE -- In recognition of the creative minds in the marketing and advertising industry, the Philippine Daily Inquirer Thursday opened the Cannes Lions 2007 Winners Edition Exhibit and Screening at the 20th Philippine Advertising Congress (PAC) ongoing at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center here.
Inquirer president and CEO Sandy Prieto-Romualdez formally opened the exhibit and screening together with Cannes Lions executive chair Terry Savage. They were joined by Yoly Ong, 20th PAC chair, Andre Khan, president of the Advertising Board of the Philippines, and Merlee Jayme, president of the Creative Guild.
Said Romualdez: “The Inquirer will continually support the Cannes cause and promote better partnership between agencies and clients to achieve greater creative excellence at par with the rest of the world.”
The 20th PAC, which opened on Wednesday, runs until Saturday.
Neil Gaiman, the much-celebrated author of the “Sandman” graphic novel series and “Stardust,” opened the second day of the congress with a speech on “Imagination and Creativity in the Contemporary World.”
Gaiman praised the wealth and originality of Filipino folklore, which he described as “the coolest folklore in the world.”
He encouraged Filipino writers not to be afraid to explore their talents, and to just “write and finish it.”
On the usefulness of advertising, Gaiman said: “Advertising is incredibly useful when well done.”
The three-day Cannes Lions exhibit -- on view on the second floor of the convention center -- showcases the works of the world’s best creative people in advertising and marketing.
In 2004, the Inquirer was appointed the official Philippine representative to the Cannes International Advertising Festival. It was the first time a Filipino delegation took part in the prestigious advertising festival that gathers more than 8,000 delegates from 70 countries worldwide.
“One of superlatives” was how the organizers of the 20th PAC described the ongoing biennial event.
For one, the number of delegates -- 3,334, of whom 700 are students -- has surpassed that in previous congresses. There were 2,600 delegates in the 2005 PAC.
“We’ve made a record of sorts,” Ong told reporters shortly before the congress opened on Wednesday night.
This congress is also being held in the largest plenary hall, with the delegates having their meals in the largest dining area.
It likewise boasts the largest trade exhibit area.
“There are many firsts in [PAC] history, and they will all happen here. The sessions are the most interesting yet, as this is the first ad congress that has more than 20 speakers,” Ong said.
Also on Wednesday night, the Inquirer hosted a dinner during which it unveiled a new logo representing the merger of its other publications and printing press.
Dressed in a grass skirt in keeping with the luau-themed dinner, Romualdez announced that the Inquirer Group of Publications would now be simply known as the Inquirer Group.
Chinese-Filipino tycoon John Gokongwei Jr. delivered the keynote address on opening night, retelling the story of his success in entrepreneurship and challenging Filipinos to think of the world as their market.
Gokongwei, chair emeritus of JG Summit Holdings Inc., urged the PAC delegates “to excel as entrepreneurs before the world” and to “create Filipino brands for the global market place.”
“With a world-class brand, we create pride for our nation,” he said, adding:
“Why serve 86 million when you can sell to four billion Asians? And that’s just to start you off. Because there is still the world beyond Asia.
“When you go back to your offices, think of ways to sell and market your products and services to the world … You can if you really try. I did. As a boy, I sold peanuts from my backyard. Today, I sell snacks to the world. I want to see other Filipinos do the same.”
Gokongwei first told his life story five years ago at the launch of the Ateneo de Manila School of Management, which was named after him. That was a few months before he embarked on mobile services.
His life story apparently continues to inspire, as proven by the standing ovation he received from the PAC delegates at the end of his speech.
34th richest man
Gokongwei, who is listed by Forbes as the 34th richest man in Southeast Asia with $425 million to his name, said that after five years of competing with two industry giants, his Digitel Telecommunications now counts on a 4-million subscriber base. He told of having to sell goods at 13 in the market in Cebu, where he was born. By then his father, whose empire was built on credit, had died, and he had become the man of the family.
“After this experience, I told myself, ‘If I can compete with people so much older than me, if I can support my whole family at 15, I can do anything!’”
Gokongwei’s trading business eventually branched out to Manila. He went up against two cornstarch manufacturing giants, also in Cebu, and into importation after World War II.
He ventured into food manufacturing and bought shares in San Miguel Corp.
The Gokongweis also own Cebu Pacific, Robinsons malls, Universal Robina Corp. and a beverage company that makes the C2 fun drink.
‘The man that I am’
“Looking back, I wonder, what would have happened if my father had not left my family with nothing? Would I have become the man I am? Who knows?” Gokongwei said.
He added: “I am 81 today. But I do not forget the little boy that I was in the palengke in Cebu. I still believe in family. I still want to make good. I still don’t mind going up against those older and better than me. I still believe hard work will not fail me. And I still believe in people willing to think the same way.
“Through the years, the market place has expanded -- between cities, between countries, between continents. I want to urge you all here to think bigger.”