Latest Stories

Corporate Securities Info

Avoidable advertising gaffe

An advertisement that appears to denigrate the memory of Datu Lapu-Lapu, the nemesis of Ferdinand Magellan (the man who discovered the Philippines for the western world) had a sad ending. The commercial shows Lapu-Lapu and his consort choosing a diaper named EQ for their child over that offered by Magellan. The rejection was implied as the cause of fighting between their forces in the Battle of Mactan.

Understandably, many Cebuanos took umbrage over what they considered the advertisement’s disrespect for the dignity and heroism of the first Filipino hero. Acting on their complaint, the National Historical Commission issued last April 13 a “cease and desist” order against the promotional material.

This prompted the Advertising Standards Council, the industry’s body tasked with screening and regulating the content of advertising materials across all medium, to recall the “clearance to air” it earlier issued to the advertisement. With that directive, the Advertising Board of the Philippines, the umbrella organization of the advertising industry, ordered the TV commercial to be taken off the air.

The order now rests on the hands of McCann World Group (the advertisement’s producer), the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas and the TV stations where the commercial has been booked.


It’s surprising how McCann, which is internationally known for the quality and novelty of its promotional materials, would make an advertisement that makes fun of a revered figure and significant event in our history. I felt uncomfortable the first time I saw the commercial. Although the setting and props were excellent, the presentation of characters struck me as choppy and disconcerted.

It’s difficult to find any correlation—no matter how stretched—between Lapu-Lapu and Magellan, on the one hand, and baby diapers, on the other. They just don’t fit. If the dialogue between the actors was meant to be humorous or become a popular sound bite, the opposite happened. It was dragging.

I know there is such a thing as generation gap that explains why some present-day activities or messages do not appeal to or strike a chord among members of a generation. In the instant advertisement, the disconnect between the product and the manner of its promotion cannot be brushed off as the result of a difference in generational attitudes or ideas. Some things were just not in their right places.

Was I missing something? Or have I been jaded already by other advertisements that the EQ diaper commercial did not seem to convey the message it apparently wants to send to the market?

Market test

If I’m not mistaken, advertisements, especially those for radio and TV, are pre-tested with their intended audience before their release. Although the people behind advertisements are supposed to have their feet and ears on the ground, the reaction of the people to whose attention the commercials are directed has to be gauged in advance to ensure the effectiveness of the promotion. After all, what good are beautifully conceived and prepared advertisements if their target audience does not respond to them favorably, i.e., buy or avail themselves of their underlying products or services.

Aside from the early measurement of public reaction, aren’t commercials also supposed to undergo factual, gender, political, social and other related testing? Are the facts and figures mentioned accurate or supported by credible proof? Does the advertisement send a subliminal sexist, racist or ageist message, or otherwise denigrate other people? Are the words and photos used offensive, demeaning or insulting to some sectors of our society?

Standing alone, some words may appear plain and simple, but used in a certain style or form they may hurt other people’s sensibilities. Remember the “Nakatikim ka na ba ng kinse años?” advertisement of Napoleon Brandy in 2004? Although its advertiser claimed the “15 years” referred to the age of the liquor, not to minor children, the double entendre drew strong adverse reaction from the public and forced the advertiser to pull out the commercial.

Strong reaction

How could the company not know that its presentation of Lapu-Lapu was politically incorrect or would draw umbrage from Cebuanos who, in terms of the number of people who speak the dialect, are the biggest in the country? The commercial was an unflattering satire of an historical event that Cebuanos take fulsome pride of because of its exalted standing in our history. The Battle of Mactan, considered the first Filipino resistance to foreign invasion, was trivialized as having been fought over baby diapers. Mercifully, its contents were not highlighted.

The advertising company’s research department seemed to have missed the fact that the Cebuanos are, like other regional groupings, fiercely loyal to their birthplace, history and culture that they would not brook condescending portrayals of the things they hold dear. The EQ advertisement incident should put advertisers and advertisement companies on notice on the need to be more circumspect in the preparation of promotional materials.

How frustrating must it be for a company to incur huge expenses for an advertisement that tarnishes, rather than enhances, its image and, in the process, lose the patronage of its target market.

For comments, please send your email to rpalabrica@inquirer.com.ph.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Advertisement , Business , column , Lapu-lapu , raul j. palabrica

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • 22 houses destroyed, 3 hurt as violent wind storm hits village
  • 242 out of 438 pass board tests for chemical engineers
  • Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  • 5 OFWs from Negros quarantined for MERS-CoV tests
  • Release of village chief’s truck caught carrying illegal logs slammed
  • Sports

  • Alaska takes quarterfinals opener over San Mig Coffee
  • Jackson finds second wind to push Meralco past Rain or Shine
  • NLEX fights off Derulo Accelero to remain unbeaten
  • Mayweather diehard Bieber eats pride, poses with Pacquiao for photo op
  • Power Pinays rip Singapore to enter quarters in Asian volley tilt
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Oil prices to go up on supply concerns, optimism on US rebound
  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • QC woman who flew in from Middle East tests negative for MERS-CoV
  • DFA, DOH urge OFWs not to panic over MERS-Cov
  • Balikatan could spoil peace talks, says militant group
  • DFA officers hold workshop on aiding human traffic victims
  • Canada in communication with PH on toxic wastes
  • Marketplace