Filipino design and book publishing company Studio 5 is awarded gold in the much coveted Stevie Awards (formerly called The International Business Awards) under the “Company History: More than 50 Years” category for their work on the coffee table book, The Pepsi Challenge: A Journey of Remarkable Resilience, that tells the story of Pepsi Cola’s 66 years in the local beverage industry.

Pepsi Cola Products Philippines Inc. (PCPPI), the exclusive bottler of Pepsi beverages in the Philippines, partnered with the design company to create a book that reflects the values of their company, and to tell the story of their presence in Filipino lives.

The book’s nine-member creative team includes Dr. Isagani Cruz, the president of The Manila Times College. Cruz, an established writer, educator and historian, wrote two chapters of the three-part book.

In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times on September 6 in their Makati City office, Studio 5 President Marily Orosa said coming out with the book came as a real challenge, with Pepsi having survived many ownership transfers, acquisitions and mergers and yet has managed to be the “No. 1 company of non-carbonated beverage in the country today.”

“I think this is the first time a Filipino company has won a Stevie gold,” Orosa said.

“Pepsi, in the United States, started as a health drink for stomach ache. Today, they have become the No.1 company for non-carbonated drinks. We were able to connect how Pepsi started from there,” Orosa told The Times.

“Since there were no archives, documents, memorabilia or an organized company history that we could use in telling the story, our creative team decided to make the book very modern,” she said.

Understanding that their client is a pop icon in the industry, Studio 5 conceptualized a “design-driven” book that brought graphic design ideas into the context of book design, which was a two-year project completed in 2012.

“We conceptualized the book and presented our ideas to Pepsi, which they were quick to agree [with]. It was a real challenge though to work with minimal resources--we scoured through old publications where Pepsi ads were published by looking at old clippings one by one at the Lopez Museum. We also had to contact memorabilia collectors who actually liked our project. Besides that, we had our writers interview past owners of the company, and through oral narration they were able to weave a beautiful story,” Orosa said.

“We had to look for old owners--from the Escalers, through their son, Ernest, the one who we interviewed, to the Goucos, which was easy since they are a client too. We also spoke with the company’s immediate [past] owner Micky Yong. Now it is owned by a South Korean brand, Lotte, itself a big and well-known brand in South Korea,” she added.

“Through all of the transitions, Pepsi has survived. That’s why [it wants] to give thanks to the employees. The employees were always ready to [blend in] with the new culture. Whenever there was a challenge, they rose to it, and that’s one of the threads that Isagani saw,” Orosa said.

“The book is interesting because we let design tell the story. In the absence of documents or archives, we only had oral history to back us up. And we needed to tell the story that wasn’t boring, so we used design,” she added.

Studio 5 visited to tourist spots in the country, focusing on Pepsi products have become part of everyday life.

A lot of images in the book showed Pepsi drinks enjoyed in afternoon meriendas in Ilocos, where a bottle is partnered with the local favorite, empanada. The company’s creative group also went from north to south, photographing the iconic Pepsi truck passing the Pagudpud Bridge in the north, as well as along the San Juanico Bridge in the south.

“We went to places where Pepsi is No. 1, and at the same time, these are cultural places where a lot of local celebrations are popular. During Holy Week, we went to the Moriones Festival in Marinduque, and we also went to Pagudpud for its scenic view and the popularity of Pepsi there,” said Jay Bautista, Studio 5’s project development officer.

How did the book affect Pepsi employees? “Since the book was launched and distributed in the first quarter this year, total company performance has been remarkable,” Jika Dalupan, the company’s vice president for marketing, said. “Company growth is at 25 percent as in the second quarter, versus the flat growth in our key competitor.”

Studio 5 has worked on huge projects for public and private organizations doing high-quality annual reports, calendars, brochures and newsletters.

“There’s only one criterion that I look for when doing a project and that is doing excellent work. We refer to ourselves as the ‘baliw team’ [crazy team] because we always challenge ourselves to come up with the most creative ideas [for] a book,” Orosa said.

Among their clients are Metrobank, Petron, Malacañang Palace and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. “We designed the new bank notes for the Bangko Sentral,” she said.

Orosa said she wants to see Filipino books competing with internationally produced ones. “When we have our books lined up with these international books, I want to show everyone that we are not Third World. In book publishing, [this award] shows that we can compete.”

Studio 5 prides itself as the only book publishing company that does the “four-edge painting in gold gildings” in all of Asia.

The Stevie Awards, formerly known as The International Business Awards, “feature a wide variety of categories to recognize achievement in every facet of work life, including management awards, new product awards, marketing awards, PR awards, customer service awards, website awards, and more,” as stated in their website,