Consumer ads through the years

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco () - May 28, 2002 - 12:00am
Last Saturday, I cited bath soaps to be among the consumer products that had always advertised heavily – especially on television. Below are the other products that always bought commercial spots into TV programs from the time television was introduced in the Philippines.

By the 1960s, bottled shampoo had already dislodged gugo (coconut bark) and calamansi as the most popular cleaning agent for the hair – thanks to shampoo commercials on television. But shampoo was marketed to be "for women only" back then. Men were afraid to even touch the shampoo bottle for fear of being branded sissies. (To wash their hair, they used bath soaps.)

In the early ’70s, however, Gard came out with its series of Charlieng Balakubak ads. Its first version had this good-looking man in formal attire having the time of his life dancing at a party – until the dance partner is repelled by the sight of dandruff flakes on both shoulders of his dark-colored suit. Version II had Evelyn Morato (she became an erswhile TV host of a noontime show) sharing her umbrella under the rain with this supposedly cute guy who – horrors – turned out to be Charlieng Balakubak. This Gard TV commercial emboldened men to buy shampoo openly in supermarkets – thanks to Charlie and his dandruff.

Another popular shampoo commercial in the early ’70s featured Margie Moran’s sister, Lulette, then a popular UP coed. The slant of this ad showed how this shampoo was so rich and lathery, you can create various figures on your hair using suds from Halo. There, we saw Lulette playing with suds and forming them into bunny ears and other shapes – including the traditional grandmother’s hairdo.

Now, I don’t know what became of Lulette Moran (although Margie is still very much around). Even Halo shampoo seemed to have disappeared from the supermarket shelves along with her and her lathery shampoo suds.

Always present on television as part of commercial gaps were detergent soap advertisements. Even then, Tide was already a leading brand (although it only came in powder form – with Breeze as its chief competitor. The Tide ads always stressed on its ability to make white clothes even whiter – kahit hindi mag-kula.

In the early ’70s, however, one Tide commercial got the flak from grammarians. In one Tide TV ad, you see, a woman supposelly picked at random from outside what lookhed like a supermarket (or was it a wet market?) was asked if she was willing to give up her box of Tide in exchange for two boxes of another brand. The woman, of course, responded in the negative and said, Kung may one-man-woman, ako naman ay one-woman-soap." This commercial ran for quite sometime because that line – in spite of the wrong grammer – became very popular among TV viewers.

More aggressive than detergent soaps were the soda commercials. In fact, there was already a cola war even in the ’60s between Coke and Pepsi. Coke’s most popular commercial was this one where people from different nations were gathered and made to sing the Coke jingle – the one that starts with the line: "I want to buy the world a home and furnish it with love." The refrain was the one that goes, "It’s the real thing... "Coke also gave away yoyos and other item with the Coca-Cola logo on it.

Pepsi, on the other hand, capitalized on the popularity of the Disney characters and gave away mini posters of Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Snow White and her dwarfs. The Royal True-Orange giveaway, however, was the most functional: a flashlight in the shape of a Royal True-Orange bottle. The opening scene of the TV ad that launched this promo, in fact, started with this line. "Wowowow! Boteng umiilaw!"

Royal True-Orange wasn’t the only orange-flavored soda that time. There was Mirinda, which was also bottled by Pepsi. (Is there still Mirinda now?)

The other soda brands then were Teem, RC Cola (it disappeared toward the mid-’60s, but reappeared in 1991), Apple Sidra (very short-lived) and Canada Dry, which had different flavors – the most popular of which was Uva.

Cheaper than Coke, Pepsi and Royal were the Cosmos sodas: Sarsi (sarsaparilla) and Sunta (orange). While Coke and the rest cost P.25, Cosmos was only P.10 per bottle. In 1969, the Mutya ng Pilipinas beauties, headed by Lourdes Muñoz, endorsed Sunta on print and on TV. That year’s Miss Asia, Wonkyung Suh of Korea, was assigned to make the pitch for Sarsi.

Even cheaper then Sunta and Sarsi at P.5 were two soda brands that did not even bother to advertise anywhere. Bayani and Avenue, both of which immediately disappeared in the market after only a few years.

Very active in the advertising some in the ’60s and ’70s were the milk brands – particularly Darigold and Liberty Milk. There was even a game show on Channel 11 back then that was cutie Darigold Jamboree.

The commercial of both Darigold and Liberty were actually meant to attract the CD market because there were quite cheap – being only filled milk. The most expensive milk brand then Bear Best Brand, which came in a flat round can and wrapped in yellowish paper. It was whole cow’s milk and those who bought it were either the very rich or the lower middle-class suffering from the early onset of tuberculosis. Yes, it was.

Since it was not within reach of the masses and was not advertised in the beginning, a lot of Filipinos didn’t even know how to pronounce this brand correctly back then. They called it "Beer Brand." Only when the TV commercial – a rather crude animation of a mommy bear with a feeding bottle and nursing its young – did they realize that it’s actually pronounced "Bear Brand," believe it or not.

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