How do you mount a disruptive marketing campaign when people are holed up in their homes and you have to compete with life and death stories like Covid and who’s announcing his or her candidacy for next year’s elections?
You have to make your campaign larger than life. It has to have shock value so people will pay attention. It has to be both strange and delectable enough for people to almost instinctively share it on social media or talk about it.
That was how Netflix intended the “Trese” marketing campaign to be. And it had to be really big because, well, the anime adaptation of the award-winning graphic novel deserves the attention, says Herbert Hernandez, one of the founding partners of GIGIL, the agency in charge of the “Trese” campaign.
When we found out it was GIGIL who was behind the vandalized and slashed billboards of “Trese” we immediately got in touch with Hernandez who is not a stranger here in ANCX. GIGIL is the advertising company known for out-of-the-box campaigns such as the RC Cola “adopted child” campaign and the New Danes Cheese series of commercials where a chunk of cheese is always trying to explain the red spots on his body to people he meets (Hindi tattoo yan, bacon ‘yan.)
Hernandez says Netflix gave its full support to the series, and GIGIL was more than happy to help put the spotlight on Filipino talent. He makes special mention of Stef Pajarito, a Filipino, the company’s Country Marketing Manager, and Daphne Ng, Marketing Creative Producer for Southeast Asia, who gave the GIGIL team the direction.
Since “Trese” is set in Manila and highlights Philippine mythology, Netflix wanted to offer Filipino viewers an experience of the metropolis through their marketing communications campaign. For better storytelling, they ran it in phases and carefully mapped out a plan.
Hernandez says it took his team two months of preparation to mount everything—from ideation, briefing, immersion to the product, and presentation of ideas, to choosing the right partners, and deciding on the billboard placements. “Medyo komplikado siya. In fact, four teams ang nagtulong-tulong to do this campaign,” he offers.
The advertising exec says talking to Budjette Tan, the writer of the horror/crime comic book series, inspired them to come up with ideas for the campaign. Netflix made sure GIGIL told the “Trese” story through their collaterals.
The campaign started out with the installation of the “Trese” billboards, which got delayed because of typhoon Dante that recently hit Luzon. “It had to be done simultaneously all over the country, so dapat on cue lahat,” Hernandez shares. And of course, these had to be mounted while everyone’s asleep.
Last Sunday, netizens were puzzled, some were dumbfounded to see social media posts from Netflix showing “vandalized” and slashed billboards of the animated series. “What kind of monster would do this???” said the caption. “If you see something, say something—we’re going to find out who did this.”
By Tuesday, it was revealed the culprits were actually creatures from the show. Hernandez says they were supposed to even show the aswangs doing the actual slashing and vandalizing of the billboards—actors and a whole production team were hired to do this—but they had to forgo the plan due to bad weather.
Good thing the team had rehearsal the day before, so footage released on social media later on were taken from that rehearsal coverage. “Aswangs” and “tiyanaks” in action were “caught” on CCTV cameras, snippets from which were posted and shared online by the social media influencers GIGIL tapped. “All over the country ito. Actually, yung mga unang nag-post ng aswang, taga Visayas at Mindanao yun,” says Hernandez.
If nobody noticed the “Trese” billboards were taken down temporarily, and then slashed and vandalized, it must be because of the typhoon, adds Hernandez. “Nag-work for us na bumagyo,” he says.
The GIGIL founder says they wouldn’t have achieved the desired outcome of the marketing campaign without the said “gimik”—because while people notice billboard ads, it takes a special touch for it to really call attention and leave an impression. “Napansin ng fans ang paglabas ng [Trese] billboards, pero napansin sya ng buong Pilipinas nung may sumira.”
Following this “pakulo,” there were street art installations everywhere, the “Not Alive,” concert by Up Dharma Down during the countdown to the launch, and the Trese “takeover” at ABS-CBN.
Hernandez shares with ANCX that they are very happy with the campaign’s results—they got the reaction they wanted and so much more. “Ang maganda dito, lumagpas na sya sa fans [ng comic series]. Yung mga Pinoy na walang alam sa ‘Trese’ before, they are now really looking forward to watching the show,” Hernandez says. “May nagpo-post on Twitter saying naiiyak sila sa ganda ng campaign. Kinikilabutan sila sa nangyari. They were overwhelmed and really excited.”
In less than 24 hours after its release, Trese has already leaped to number one on the Netflix Top 10 in the Philippines list.