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How do you change the game?

This is the question that The 22nd Philippine Advertising Congress (#AdCon22) kept answering again and again over the course of the 4-day event. To their credit,  the organizers stayed true to the theme; and we witnessed a number of firsts for the industry. For me, these were the highlights:

1. Staying at CWC

I’ve been to Camarines Sur before (Caramoan); but the trip was ruined by typhoon. So I was happy to get the opportunity to come back, but now in the famous CWC. It’s the first time that the congress is being held at CamSur Watersports Complex; and it’s a pretty awesome place. It’s got great accommodations and the people there are helpful.

Our company was one of the few who got to stay inside Villa del Ray. We booked the Wood Cabins, which were really charming and rustic but still modern. The medium cabin we stayed in was pretty big for two people, we were able to fit in as much as five! It’s air-conditioned and comfortable. We hit a couple of snags at the beginning where there wasn’t enough water; but it was fixed soon enough. The room also appears pretty new in that it lacked furnishings and there were no hangers; but I didn’t mind. I still loved the room.

As for the other amenities, I didn’t have a chance to wakeboard, swim or do any sort of watersports activities. Between the seminars, talks and going around the booths, we just didn’t have the time or were too tired to do much else. That is one big “sayang” for me. I wish we had more opportunities to go off and actually walk around CWC.

Unfortunately, a number of delegates we knew weren’t able to stay inside the resort. The other hotels were 15-30 minutes away, which was pretty inconvenient for most of them. Buses and shuttles were provided by the organizing committee, which helped a bit. But with all the loot bags and giveaways during the sponsored meals and the trade exhibits, it would mean lugging everything around the whole day until the end of the night. Not ideal.

2. New ID

I still remember the gigantic ID wrapped around our neck during the last Ad Congress. This year, it was nowhere to be found.

The colored band/tag system that they implemented this year was an effective way to identify the delegates from the others. The tag is a waterproof, hard-to-remove bracelet that had to be around our wrists for the entire congress. It was really convenient and it meant we wouldn’t have to worry about those huge ID necklaces, which could easily be left in the room. They also implemented a biometric system for identifying the delegates. It’s a system that is simple yet high-tech, convenient yet effective… something that future AdCons could learn from.

3. The Big 3 Session

Having Atty. Felipe Gozon (GMA), Gabby Lopez (ABS-CBN) and Manny V. Pangilinan (TV5) under one roof in one session, you would think that the universe would implode… but it didn’t. And the industry was witness to a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see all three network heavyweights in one stage.

I was beyond thrilled to have watched them talk about the business of network television, the debate on who’s number one, pirating talents, the efforts to be digital and so much more. The moderators were entertaining as well: Korina Sanchez with Atty. Gozon, Mike Enriquez with MVP and Luchi Cruz Valdez with Gabby Lopez. The high point for me would have to be the first interview. Korina’s questions were direct but a bit “showbiz” enough to keep the audience and Atty. Gozon on their toes. And he answered them with flying colors.

It was a historical few hours that no one will ever forget.

4. Prizes and Parties!

The Ad Congress is known for its parties and prizes for the delegates. This one was no exception. Here are just some of the stuff the sponsors gave away:

iPhone 4S, iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Php100,000 cash, a trip to Cannes, Toyota Vios, even a brand new Mini Cooper! There were also a ton of gadgets, phones and more given away during the trade exhibits. It would’ve been more awesome if I had won something; but I’m never lucky. Still, the thrill that these raffle draws gave were a lot for the delegates to take in. It was all pretty exciting.

Other than that, there were parties every night. I had a blast dancing and mingling with people in the industry. It was a lot of fun. The music was great. The energetic vibe was infectious. We had no choice but to party all night.

*side note: This year’s party anthems would have to be a tie between Party Rock Anthem and Moves Like Jagger. During the last Ad Congress, it was I Gotta Feeling.

5. Araw Awards Craft

Award-giving bodies in the industry are always about the creative and the agency people behind them. That is why I was so happy that this year’s Araw Awards honored the production side of things through the Craft categories. Direction, cinematography, editing and casting are important factors in making a commercial film effective. I’m beyond pleased that we in production were finally being recognized and awarded for the work that we do. It was truly a game-changing move that is one of the biggest highlights for me this year.

As a bonus, our company Straight Shooters Media, Inc. bagged four awards! Two bronzes (editing & casting) and one silver Araw (direction) for “Cooking Mo, Cooking Ko!” plus one gold Araw (casting) for “The Howl and the Fussyket” (which I was part of!). Nestle Philippines was also awarded Advertiser of the Year in large part due to their groundbreaking Kasambuhay Habambuhay Film Anthology, which our films participated in.

AdCon22 was definitely historical in that it challenged the norm of this bi-annual, industry-wide event. It embraced technology and its possibilities. It recognized the need to go beyond what has been done in the past in order to give a bigger and better event for all the delegates and attendees. Here’s to the next AdCon!