Passion, creativity, inquisitiveness and a deep knowledge of the industry.

These are some of the tips shared by Chinny Basinang and Haniel “Neil” Esteban of MullenLowe Philippines and Ronald John “RJ” Espartinez and Ronela “Ron” Lopez of VMLY&R Philippines who bagged the Bronze and Crystal AD Stars New Stars 2020, respectively, on how to win in the international advertising competition stage and survive the advertising industry itself.

The competition they participated, AD Stars, is the only international advertising festival which combines creativity with cutting-edge technology that aims to “share creative solutions and change the world.”

The competition is held annually in South Korea but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was held virtually for the first time.

The contest called for campaign idea/s to promote home meal replacement brand ‘Mitus’, which is a private brand owned by NS Home Shopping. The home meal replacement (HMR) market is booming, especially in Southe Korea, due to the rise in single-person households, with more people also eating from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The challenge calls for contestants to drive wider recognition of the HMR concept, drive awareness and positive consumer sentiment towards the new Mitus brand and maximize communication between the brand and customers.

The target audience is married homemakers aged 35-55, which is the dominant demographic group among online shoppers. The format can be film, print, outdoor, online, or new media, or a strategy planning paper outlining the strategy for your campaign.

Nine individual winners composed of five different groups bested 208 entries from 26 countries.  Only two groups won from the Philippines.  That’s indeed a tall order to achieve.

Below is list of the 2020 AD Stars New Stars winners:

AD Stars New Stars 2020 Winners

GOLD – Wilson Ariyaduta, Bujukrayu, Indonesia

SILVER – Aiken Hutcheson and Stan Lee, DDB New Zealand

BRONZE – Chinny Basinang and Haniel Esteban, MullenLowe Philippines

CRYSTAL – RJ Espartinez and Ronela Lopez, VMLY&R Philippines /  Emily Jo Chen Siew Lyn and Fatin Nabilah Binti Harun, Ensemble Worldwide, Malaysia

Linus Oura, Creative Director at GUT in São Paulo, Brazil, one of New Stars 2020 jury said he was “really surprised by how insightful and culturally relevant some of the ideas presented were.”

“They also made use of technology in a smart way. It’s really important to support this kind of competition so we can nurture the talent of the future of advertising, empowering them to create and show the world that great ideas are global and can be applied anywhere,” he added. interviewed the AD Stars New Stars winners from the Philippines to ask them about their thoughts on winning the prestigious international competition and what tips they can share, especially to students of advertising, on how to make it in the industry.

RJ Espartinez and Ronela Lopez of VMLY&R Philippines

Haniel Esteban and Chinny Basinang of MullenLowe Philippines (P1): How does it feel to be one of the world’s best?

RJ: Honored. First, for representing the Philippines in the global scene. Second, for winning.

Neil: To be honest I don’t know what to feel. Para siyang fever dream kasi I’ve always been an underdog as a creative kaya di ko talaga inexpect. Sobrang surreal pero masaya na nakapag dala ka ng award for the Philippines and para sa agency niyo.

Chinny: Same sa part na I don’t know what to feel! But overall, I really feel honored and grateful na mabigyan ng ganitong surreal moment lalong-lalo na marepresenta ang Philippines and our agency sa world. Solid talaga! Hahahaha.


P1: What do you think the judges liked in your entries?

RJ: For me, buong IMC [Integrated Marketing Communication] plan nagkasya sa isang concept board. Also hindi lang kami nag-stick sa idea, nag-research kami ng possible culture sa Korea na pwede namin i-connect sa idea. Hindi lang cute idea, supported siya ng research and Korean culture. Since hindi kami Koreans, nahirapan kami nung una ano ‘yung magwowork if ever sa Korean market. So, need namin mag-research ano ba ang culture nila, for sure hindi magwowork sa kanila ‘yung nagwowork sa Philippines. And of course, on top of our idea, dapat may technology. So basically, it’s the union of creativity and technology.

Ron: Nag-interview pa kami ng ibang Korean friends para medyo ma-sure kung tama ba talaga. Although hindi pasok sa market hahaha

Neil: For us, nag-struggle talaga kami kasi hindi kami super knowledgeable sa K-culture aside from K-pop. Hahaha. Pero I think it’s the single mindedness noong buong idea, from insight to execution ang nagustuhan ng mga judges. It’s attainable and malinis ang pagkaka-gawa.


P1: Were you surprised that Koreans love karaoke like us?

RJ: Recently ko lang nalaman nung nagsimula ako ma-hook sa K-Dramas.

Ron: For me hindi, based on K-Dramas eh. Medyo may discussion lang kami before ni RJ kung papasok ba sa market kasi based sa K-dramas mga young ang nasa Noraebang.

The Crystal New Stars 2020 winning entry of RJ Espartinez and Ronela Lopez of VMLY&R Philippines

P1: Chinny, Niel, how did you come out with your pitch?

Chinny: So, we found a problem kasi na kahit we’re under the same house with our family this pandemic, hindi pa rin talaga tayo nakakapag-bonding together because we have our own ganaps pa rin individually. Kaya we realized na meal time talaga is the only time of the day that we can really connect with our families and exchange meaningful conversations. Kaya we’ve created a digital execution called “Unskippable Moments” na what if you can just skip to the best part – the meal time – as simple as skipping an ad.

Neil: Tapos yung pinaka execution namin is a 15 second skippabble ad that shows tedious meal preparation that you can just skip, and a side-by-side 6 second unskipabble ad naman na nagsho-showcase ng family meal time. This way, we can show na meal time moments talaga should be highlighted in every family.

The Bronze New Stars winning entry of Chinny Basinang and Haniel Esteban of MullenLowe Philippines

P1: How crucial is research in crafting an ad campaign?

Neil: Sobrang crucial niya in every campaign na ginagawa. Research kasi yung nag papalaman ng isang campaign, research yung nag bibigay ng sense sa idea. Sa research lumalabas lahat, simula insight, executions, key message, etc. kumbaga research yung heart ng bawat campaign.

Chinny – Research decides the success of your idea and it strengthens its impact to your audience. Without it, maliit yung knowledge mo sa bagay na ‘yon and di ka makakapag-produce ng solid campaign. Kaya let’s do our research talaga mga mars

RJ: It’s the foundation of a campaign or an idea. Everyone can think of ideas, but not everyone can do intensive research to support and strengthen their ideas.

Ron: This is the root of the campaign kasi and ang ads naman hindi palagi hinula lang, always based on research then may creative executions


P1: So it has to be based on reality.  Hindi lang basta dahil cute or pabibo?

RJ – Advertising is not just cute or pabibo, it’s our creative way of finding solutions to every problem. Mitus, for instance, is looking for an opportunity to enter the rising HMR [home meal replacements] category. So, our solution was the KaraCooking idea.


P1: Did you conduct your own research?

Chinny: Yes, lalo na sa part ng family set up this pandemic. Syempre ayun, since digital-driven itong execution namin, we heavily researched rin sa social media behavior and platform usages ng families sa Korea.


P1: Any pieces of advice you could offer to students of advertising wanting to make it into the industry?

RJ: It takes a lot of passion to survive advertising. Sabi nila cliché pero sa competitive industry ng advertising, passion is really important. Passion to learn. Passion to fail. Passion to discover. Passion to win. Passion to create good work.

Ron: Basta palagi kong sinasabi sa mga juniors na nahahandle ko noong college is they have to make their hearts strong.  Kailangan matatag loob mo eh kasi hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon may wins sa industry and I know a lot of creatives na palaging may doubts and pressure sa sarili.  It’s all about taking risks kasi kapag umenter sa industriya. Alam ‘yon, workloads, revisions and clients. Feeling ko ikaw matatalo kapag hindi matatag loob mo eh, at of course di ka naman makakapag take ng risks kung hindi ka matapang.

Neil: Just chill! I know right now pinupush mo yung self to become someone greater which is okay lang rin naman. Pero don’t be so hard sa sarili mo. Always give credit sa kung ano na ang na-achieve mo. And believe and trust yourself above all else. Ano man yang dream mo, kaya mo yan.

Chinny: For me, at until now lagi ko ring sinasabi ‘to sa self ko is: Grab all the opportunity at tatagan mo lang ang sarili mo, girl! Kasi, I am not gonna lie… Sobrang competitive ng industry na ito. You win some, you lose some. Normal lang ma-frustrate kasi lahat naman tayo dumadaan sa ganon. Kaya important na enjoy the process. Treat yourself once in a while. And treasure your friends na makikilala mo along the way. Life is short sis! YOLO lang with passion!

Rommel F. Lopez