Campaign ads, its public, the winners


FEW campaign advertisements have made me stop and shake my head, and/or smile and laugh out loud. Actually, only one has: Leila de Lima’s.

Seriously, there should be some advertising award for the ones who think these campaign TV ads up, and are actually able to execute it with the sheen and shine of a laundry detergent ad.

If ads could win elections, well, Mar Roxas needs a new advertising team. (Haha!)

The simple, pero rock
The award for the most uncomfortable politico in a TV advertisement has to be Rodrigo Duterte, asking Alan Peter Cayetano: “Handa ka na? Halika na, baguhin natin ang bayan.”

Yet what this reveals is an uncompromising Duterte, one who will not be trapped into the fakery, the sheen and shine, of TV advertisements. It works with the idea that this is a man who means business, and won’t waste a lot of time or effort trying to sell himself.

Of course it looks like he’d be more comfortable had they set it up ala inuman session in the kanto and ending it with the tandem drinking to “Change is coming” (their slogan). Instead what we have is the two candidates against a black wall, shaking hands on the idea that they are changing nation. Even a good ol’ Pinoy apir (high five!) might have worked better.

Then again, one can’t imagine Duterte doing a high five.

The simple, pero fail
If the recent set of Roxas ads are any indication, not only does he need new rhetoric, he also needs a new advertising team.

Because the testimonial strategy, the one where someone who has benefited from matuwid-na-daan speaks about how her life has been changed by it, reeks of the audio visual presentations of the President’s State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) these past two years. And then when Roxas suddenly appears on the screen, asking what will happen to Aling Juana if matuwid na daan does not continue, they shoot him so up-close that it is not only unflattering, it almost seems like they didn’t want to spend on a backdrop that would be nice enough to show.

I don’t really know what the advertising strategy is here, but it sure as hell does not encourage me to reconsider Roxas for any political position in the future. Because the rhetoric is not only old, the manner in which it is being sold us has been used over and over by PNoy. And where those close-up shots might have been about showing his droopy sad eyes imploring us all to vote for him and matuwid na daan, and therefore for Aling Juana’s future, what also shines through is insincerity.

Obviously, this was an effort at getting to the masses. Pretty sure the masses can see right through it.

The obviously not for me
There is no other ad that is so obviously not for my social class, other than the current Jejomar Binay ad, the one that uses the pejorative “nognog” and turns it into the basis for sameness between the candidate and the every Pinoy. The profile of the everyPinoy is almost the same as those in Roxas’s ads, and certainly the soap opera angle is the same. But the similarities end there.

The Binay ad picks the everyPinoy well, the ones who work under the sun, whose skin turns darker because of their struggle: the farmer, the teacher without a classroom, the worker out on the street. I draw the line at the inaaping yaya under the sun, but otherwise, one imagines this works at least as far as reclaiming a word that has been used against the candidate – and the members of his family – and turning it into a critical part of his campaign for votes.

It’s not for me – I cringe still every time the word “nognog” is used on anyone – but I imagine it works for all those whose skin color is a measure of their struggle.

Who needs pogi points when you’ve got masa points down pat?

The short film as ad
But there is nothing like Leila de Lima’s new ad. It’s a period short film, harking back to a time that well, never existed in this country, but which would be familiar to a specific social class that remains fascinated with classic films like The Godfather. Oh yes, this is godfather-aesthetic, but in the Filipino context, and to layer it with even more complexity, it is actually set in the present.

Yes, it confuses you, because then you realize: so … they’re all just in costume?

They’re in costume in a secret warehouse where all things illegal happen: drugs, sex, money laundering. As the head honchos of this operation step out onto the dimly lit street, they see a woman holding an umbrella, in high-heeled boots and a trench coat, walking purposefully towards them bad guys, the only sound you hear the tok-tok of her heels, her face in the shadows. The bad guys gape in fear. The woman stops in front of them, pulls at a chain that miraculously appears (maybe attached to her umbrella?), and a cage falls from the sky and traps them.

The woman looks at them disapprovingly then walks away, and a voice says: Ito ang justice without fear or favor.

I would’ve cancelled out that last shot with de Lima and her uncomfortable smile. I would’ve kept her in the shadows as she walks away from the pleading bad guys captured in her cage. It would’ve made for more drama, and created a sense of how justice is not about who metes it out, but how it is meted out.

Then again, this person who represents justice – complete with its symbol on her glasses! – is running for the Senate. Obviously it is the “who” and not the “how” that is important.

If I were voting in these elections at all, de Lima would lose a vote just for spending so much on an ad. I’d rather find out where she stands on EDCA, and Jennifer Laude, and blood money for OFWs, and IP lands and the killings of the Lumad. Ah, but maybe these don’t matter as much as looking good? Welcome to election season.


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  1. With the veto of the SSS, I will bet that Mar Roxas will not reach 7 percentage mark. Poor guy, he is in the wrong place and the wrong time.

  2. Mensahe dun kulungan ang punta sa masamang tao pero sarap buhay sa loob ng kulungan may bath tub karaoke bar aircon and many more luxuries during de lima’s time

  3. The de Lima ad should have had her flying into the air ala Kung Fu Hustle , then she will be rediscovered and reborn as a endorser for washing powder.(which she can apply on her face too!
    The Araneta scion should just have himself shown shaving ice or delivering ice in the Farmer’s Market(with a large ice tong).

  4. Having been in advertising for 20 years, I find Leila’s ad cliche-ridden. More importantly, it doesn’t hold true. Leila failed as the head of the DOJ. Jeez, she couldn’t even clean up the Bilibid prison! The rich inmates made her look foolish–they built luxury suites, a recording studio and a rooftop pool! And yet she shows herself (in the ad, at least) to have caged a band of crooks out of a bad Fellini spoof!