It goes without saying that you'll be needing billions for airtime and high-end ad agencies (not to mention surveys bought from Quiapo sidewalks). Beyond nice, wrinkle-and pimple-erasing lighting and musical ditties more contagious than the bubonic plague, here are some of the other elements of an effective ad:
Use artistas. What I could not forgive, however, is when the Old Dolphy is thrown into the muck and placed in an ad that is totally barren of wit and humor. I love Dolphy. But there's a reason why ABS-CBN canned his sitcoms and his last movie was second to the bottom on the list of Metro Manila Filmfest ticket sales. The man says he wants to work. Similarly, there are cardiac patients who pull out their IV tubes just to walk down to the canteen for a greasy bowl of pork adobo. But never fear: Dolphy will outlive us all.
Project yourself as one of them. Which is why Villar intones the word like a goddamned mantra. And which is why, in his ads, you'll hear "mahirap" more frequently than you'll hear "bonggang-bongga!" from Lolit Solis. I remember the last time we–I mean, they (i.e. you mutherf–kers)–bought that schtick from someone. Two years after, he got kicked out of Malacanang and was jailed for plunder.
Don't project yourself as beautiful. Because, in the deepest, darkest recesses of their simple minds, they will hate you. I suspect that this ad had something to do with the dismal slide of Loren's ratings. You can't walk on a ricefield and beam like this:
Be concrete. Just as poetry should have a central image, or an "objective correlative" according to our homeboy T.S. Eliot, so should your ad present something concrete. Enrile's ad–despite the silly choreography and singing–zeroed in the cell phone load issue he had so valiantly tackled in the Senate. But why is it that when he says, "Gusto ko happy ka," it sounds rather… threatening?
Use "accidents" to your advantage. All it takes is just a camera, a microphone, and a man on the street who'll say something unforgettable. I call it the "Pepsodent-bebelgum" model–kids, have someone who has lived through the '80s to explain. In this man's case, the total absence of a Shakespearean diction and human charms worked to his lovably goofy advantage. He certainly gets my vote.
Try to inject subtly snide comments indirectly referring to the competitor. This is from the Rudy Distrito School of political campaigning: throw a few elbows to the defenders' ribs while driving to the hoop. The magic of insinuations: "Hindi ako magnanakaw" vs. "Si Villar lang ang may kakayahang gumawa ng sariling pangalan."
If possible, utilize the element of surprise. The unexpected, the seemingly out-of-place, to make a jarringly potent effect. Check out Gordon's use of a Christmas carol, in what could be one of the few, more dignified campaign ads. Sober and straight to the point. Sometimes it's good to be a Dick.
Never, ever attempt to rap. Gotta have skillz to pay the billz, yo.
Artwork by Warren Espejo.