Sunday, September 30, 2007


Damn! The atmosphere was hot and tense during our tv commercial shoot. For some reason, the cameraman couldn't keep a sharp focus on the basketball player who was doing dunk shots. After the nth take, the director got pissed, shouted expletives in the vernacular (?!*#??) then threw his microphone at the tv monitor!

What is it about basketball that makes men go ballistic? Fouls result in bad behavior. Wrong calls end in fist fights. And now, even shooting an action-packed basketball scene drives advertising directors crazy!

Must be the free flow of testosterone, the male hormone responsible for physical energy. The very substance that drives a man to 'lose it'.

Ironically, it's the same one that pushes him to win. :-)

(Left to right) Basketball players / advertising models Ram Sagad and Marx Topacio show us some hardcourt attitude.

The Basketball Be@rbrick (top, left) is from the Nike Bearforce One Series, a promotional set of 10 that was released in 2003. Through the years, Nike has been regularly producing Be@rbricks to boost sales. Fortunately, their designs are quite imaginative and clever, unlike some promoters who simply slap on their logo on the bear. Nice job, Nike! :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

reinventing love

At JWT Manila, the advertising agency where I used to work back in '97, Art Directors took a test before they were hired. One of the test problems (sort of) went like this:

'The heart has been the symbol of love for as long as we can remember – aren't you bored with it? Go ahead, design a new icon to take its place.'

Interesting exercise, wasn't it?

Just yesterday, we shot a television advertisement where we featured newlyweds. Similarly, the challenge for us was how to portray these clichèd characters in a new way.

Check it out below: we went for a wedding couple with a hipper style. Long hair, canvas shoes and a Vespa for him. A hiked up skirt and a tomboyish straddle on the bike for her. No guests throwing rice. No wedding cake. No white doves.

In my opinion, the principles of advertising are like the laws of love –

One, you simply can't bore the consumer – you have to continually reinvent the product to keep it exciting.

Two, a strategy is mandatory – you must plan to make it work.

And three, creative execution is key – from the setting, to the music, to the script/conversation, to the costumes – everything must be perfect!

(Hmmm, come to think of it, there is life after advertising for me... marriage counseling! :-D)

The 2006 Valentine Be@rbrick (top, right) is one of the few that come with a 50% size bear. The heart symbol on its chest has been modified to include an @ symbol. Why? Here's my take on it.

Models: Century Tuna Superbods Runners-up JC Tiuseco & Mica Tuaño assisted by Make-up Artist Effie Go

Monday, September 17, 2007

the case of the bogus be@rbrick / part 2

I was leafing through a local fashion magazine when something familiar caught my eye. There it was, hanging across the bare chest of a young, sassy-looking model named Jake Cuenca was a bearbrick (see Bench Underwear print ad below)!

I knew, of course, that there existed no such bear on a chain, and closer scrutiny proved that it was a fake! The rounded hands and feet, the big ears, and the small ribcage were clear indications. Check out my earlier post, 'The Case of the Bogus Be@rbrick / Part 1', for other telltale signs.

Lately, bootleg bearbricks like these seem to be proliferating – I've seen quite a few attached to manbags, keychains and even mobile phone straps!

Don't get me wrong, I don't detest these little imitations. In fact, they're not at all bad-looking. But a fake is still a fake. There's no thrill in owning one, if you ask me. :-)

At the topmost left is the original Series 1 U.S. Flag Be@rbrick, which I shot against a map of the New York City subway system. It was one of the first bears I bought. Back then, I was still clueless about fakes – so I guess I was lucky it was for real.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

plastics in paradise?!

I just arrived from an out-of-town photo shoot in Boracay. At first, I thought it would be a nice junket – the location being one of my favorite beaches – until I took a morning stroll along the shoreline.

My path was strewn with plastic waste, each piece half-embedded in the sand along with decaying organic debris, all washed ashore during the previous night. Everything from disposable lighters, rubber slippers, sunglasses, food wrappers, bags, water bottles and even hangers! See pics below, right.

From afar, the non- biodegradable pollutants of the pristine-looking beach weren't discernible (below). But they were there – repulsive replacements of calcified starfish and corals that once adorned the long stretch of white sand.

I believe that public ignorance, as well as apathy, are the culprits. In my own little way, I would like to help spread the word to the guilty:

"Eat your own f__king trash if you can't dispose of them properly, you morons!?! *#?!"

Sorry, but that was the nicest way I could put it. :-)

The WWF Panda Be@rbrick (top, left) was commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature, one of the world's largest and most effective independent organizations dedicated to the conservation of our natural habitat.

Today, WWF operates in approximately 100 countries, supported by nearly five million people worldwide. To find out how you can help, visit their website here.

Friday, September 7, 2007

v.i.p. for vuitton

" 'A journey brings us face to face with ourselves.' Berlin Wall. Returning from a conference."

These words are printed on the latest Louis Vuitton advertisement (below) which features Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union.

Coming from a series of luxurious but lifeless ads with actress Scarlett Johansson, Vuitton's advertising suddenly found a soul – one that did not dwell merely on the photoshopped bodies and empty stares of Hollywood ingenues – but on the inspiring life journey of a giant such as Gorbachev.

Some have criticized Gorbachev for 'peddling luggage' for the French luxury brand, even if they knew that Vuitton made huge donations to the environmental charity which Gorbachev founded, Green Cross International. For them, commercialization was beneath a V.I.P. of Gorbachev's level.

But personally, I loved the campaign.

I had never been a Vuitton fanatic... never bought any of those monogrammed canvas bags. In truth, I found them overly-copied and overpriced. But last week, when I opened the newspaper and saw Gorbachev peering out of a 50s Kremlin limo passing by the vestiges of the Berlin wall, I was immediately hooked! I loved the model, the setting, the photography, the colors, the mood, and the message. With a newfound respect for the ubiquitous Louis Vuitton (or LV) bag, I called the nearest store right away – haha! One of the staff informed me that Gorbachev's bag was called the 'Keepall' and that it was available. Like a hypnotized subject, I automatically had one reserved!

Seems like LV is going to 'bag' a lot of new customers (like me) with this ad. ;-)

The V.I.P. Bearbrick (top, right) from Series 4 is a rare bear, with only .52% availability. And it's the only one with gold glitter. Now, that's what I'd call V.I.P – Very Impressive Plastic!

Info from / Gorbachev pic by Annie Leibovitz from

Sunday, September 2, 2007

blooms & be@rbricks

My brother Tony is a gastroenterologist. He spends his weekdays at the ultra-modern Asian Hospital examining people's intestines and stomach linings with a special camera called the endoscope.

However, his weekends are spent looking through another camera – his Nikon D80.

Just last week, I found out that his photographs are among the most popular in the Flicker community. Each pretty picture elicits up to 140 comments from viewers and admirers all over the globe! His favorite subject? Gerberas – one of the five most bought flowers in the world. Below are four of my favorite photographs from his collection.

Because he is a doctor, he is known on Flicker as Doctony. So if you need a prescription for stress, boredom, sadness, or are simply in need of a floral fix, just drop by his picture clinic here. No need for an appointment. :-)

Top left: The classic Marimekko flower appears on this Be@rbrick produced by Marimekko, the leading textile, fashion, accessories and home furnishings company in Finland. Created by Maija and Kristina Isola, this vintage 60s poppy pattern (called the Unikko) is still featured on many of Marimekko's products today. Check out Marimekko's latest bag collection below.

Gerbera pics from Doctony / Info and bag pics from