Robinsons bets Galleria rebirth on viral 'twin snake,' Alice Dixson ad

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2018 01:34 PM | Updated as of Nov 13 2018 02:18 PM

MANILA -- After 1.2 million views on Facebook, Robinsons hopes to translate social media virality to foot traffic in its refurbished Galleria mall, banking on nostalgia and new shops aimed at millennials.

Released in time for Halloween, the ad poked fun at the decades-old urban legend that taipan John Gokongwei's daughter, Robina Gokongwei-Pe, had a twin snake lurking inside the mall, preying on beautiful women inside fitting rooms.

It starred actress Alice Dixson, who according to the story, was attacked by the snake inside the mall. Dixson recreated the urban legend, but the hissing reptile turned out to be a kid in a green costume.

Kaths Laudit-Chong, who conceptualized the Facebook ad, recalled how it racked up 1,000 views per minute shortly after it was posted at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.

"We weren't expecting virality out of it," Chong said, adding the concept was approved by Gokongwei-Pe. "We really wanted to debunk that urban legend."

"The netizens have spoken and they experienced the real Galleria through this ad," she said.

Dixson's own reinvention is the perfect parallel for Robinsons Galleria, one of the first malls erected along EDSA. Its spot on the corner of the capital's main highway and Ortigas is witness to massive protests, including one in 2001 that installed a new government.

Before she was a fitspiration for women over 40, Dixson was one of the most popular actresses in the late 1980s, around the same time the Gokongwei patriarch and rival taipan Henry Sy raced to build shopping malls in urban centers.

Dixson parlayed her Binibining Pilipinas-International to a starring role as the mermaid "Dyesebel" on the big screen. She also played Faye, the fairy who fell in love with mortal Enteng Kabisote on the original "Okey Ka, Fairy Ko."

"Alice is really relevant because she reinvented herself," Chong said of Dixson.

Galleria's new campaign is about creating "new stories" in a mall that has become the site of first dates and family gatherings, said Robinsons Land director for public relations Roseann Villegas.

Villegas, who met her husband at Galleria, said handling the "snake" urban legend at the start of her career was a "PR nightmare."

But Gokongwei-Pe is a taipan's daughter with a sense of humor. In 2012, the Year of the Snake, she approved a display of goods made from snakeskin in one Robinsons branch, Villegas said.

In one Twitter post, she posed with a plush snake perched on her shoulders, calling it her "twin."

Speaking at the UP School of Economics 10 years ago, Gokongwei-Pe gamely confronted the urban legend.

"My kakambal was supposed to be the source of our wealth as she laid golden eggs. She was supposed to be hiding under the floor of the fitting rooms, and every time a beautiful woman would enter, the floor would open and she would land right inside the mouth of my kakambal na ahas," she said.

"I have no idea who started this incredible story, but I have to tell you that some people believed it and even started staring at my legs to see if there were any signs of snakeskin. A few people still ask me about it, and I have to tell them na naging handbag na ho sa Robinsons Department Store," she said.

The interiors of the renovated Robinsons Galleria. ABS-CBN News

The interiors of the renovated Robinsons Galleria. ABS-CBN News

The interiors of the renovated Robinsons Galleria. ABS-CBN News

The interiors of the renovated Robinsons Galleria. ABS-CBN News

The refurbished Robinsons Mall has brighter interiors, done mostly in white with wood accents. The iconic elevators were replaced with four pillars, making the space look bigger.

Shops are also grouped per floor. On the pampering wing, stools are ready for husbands and boyfriends to wait on their partners while having hair, nail and waxing treatments.

 

Existing tenants either expanded or renovated their stores. The cinema section is also getting an overhaul.

Robinsons has 49 malls nationwide and Galleria is the first and the biggest. Several others are being renovated.

Taipan John Gokongwei (second from right) attends the opening of Robinsons Galleria. Handout photo

Taipan John Gokongwei (second from right) attends the opening of Robinsons Galleria. Handout photo