Why ad agencies are paid the big bucks: Coca Cola and The OFW Project

Persuasion 101. Lay out a strong emotional context, extend sharp emotional hooks, feel the bite from the audience, reel in the catch, then flash the brand. This is the science that earns the ad agencies the big bucks. Using flashy moving visuals — and lots of money to cobble these into an “inspiring” video — the persuasion agents of mega-conglomerate Coca Cola have turned their chick-flick video Coca-Cola Where Will Happiness Strike Next: The OFW Project into the latest viral hit.

Who were the subjects of this video? The usual. Filipino overseas foreign workers (OFWs) who are in an all-too-familiar situation: they have kids to feed back home and sick relatives to fund, no money to spare for trips back to visit them, and lots of sob-stories to tell drawing upon a chronic homesickness they suffer from.

For the ad man, these ingredients thrown together into a potent brew, makes the turning of Coca Cola into the new OFW “hero” a walk in the park. I can hear the clinking of toasts being made by a bunch of suits laughing all the way to the bank echoing from the distance…

That said, it is a bit unfortunate for Coca Cola and its awesome marketing machine that this quaint ad was released at a time when Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III issued his latest brainwave on the OFW situation of the country he presumes to lead…

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine economy is now focused on “investment-led growth” and is no longer heavily dependent on the remittances of overseas Filipino workers,” President Aquino said yesterday.

“The fact that we are a little bit more insulated now points to the fact that we have more investment-led growth rather than purely consumption resulting from OFW remittances,” Aquino said in an interview on the sidelines of the awarding ceremonies of the 2011 Bagong Bayani at Malacañang.

I can give credit to Noynoy for at least aspiring for a Philippines that is “no longer heavily dependent on the remittances of overseas Filipino workers”. At least at the conceptual level, the Second Aquino Administration is celebrating the right thing, even if the cause for celebration is based on some flawed thinking. As consultant Ben Kritz points out, economic growth is not enough — it has to grow significantly on a per capita basis for it to make significant contribution to reducing poverty (and reducing the need for OFWs to suffer the condition that Coca Cola seemingly takes advantage of in its ad) over the next several years. However, the numbers tell a different story…

[The Philippines’ Household Final Consumption Expenditure] contributes to both GDP and GNI, yet as it has significantly increased (and the increase is indeed significant, because the population is increasing at the same time) the country’s productivity is slowing, and the country is earning progressively less per unit of production.

The real deal is a lot less romantic and chick-flickish (and is quite politically incorrect), unfortunately. Like I wrote a while back in my piece Overseas foreign employment – Filipinos’ pwede-na-yan solution to poverty

Where and when exactly does “responsible parenting” start? Does it start when one already has four kids to feed, clothe, and educate? Or does it start when one first considers having them? It seems Filipinos have forgotten or choose to ignore the latter aspect of being a “responsible parent”.

Having children, then suddenly finding ourselves unable to provide for them is irresponsible. Seeking foreign employment at the expense of sound parenting and labeling it as heroism white-washes this collective irresponsibility and further adds to the counts of this irresponsibility.

It is irresponsible for one to produce offspring without considering one’s long-term ability to provide for them materially as well as emotionally and spiritually. Foreign employment and abortion are sometimes the results of this lack of planning. Leaving one’s young children to seek employment overseas is different from abortion in only one aspect: with abortion, the social problem ends right there and then; with foreign employment involving young children, the problems just begin. OFWs who “sacrifice” family life and the people who lionise them as “heroes” forget that these absentee-parents are turning loose unto an already dysfunctional society a whole generation of absentee-parented youth. Their “sacrifice” is our society’s sacrifice as well in terms of the burden of absorbing this absentee-parented generation. The absentee-parented generation will be no improvement over a generation that already failed dismally at collectively building a strong state.

OFWs are just out to make a better buck for the amount of trouble they have to go through to do it. And there is nothing wrong with that. But let us not pretend that they are more special than you or me who do the same thing and aspire for the same results, albeit under better circumstances.

As the star of the movie The Sound of Music Julie Andrews once sang…

So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Some of us did something good or bad or something right or wrong in our childhood or past. Perhaps our parents did too. Or their parents. And whatever that was (or the collective outcome of many smaller such things) accounts for the individual circumstance each one of us finds ourselves in today. And that’s all there is to it.

So let’s afford ourselves some teary time and have a Coke as we view and pass along The OFW Project. We’re entitled to have a laugh or shed a tear every now and then when we consume entertainment — as long as we remain conscious that entertainment is not reality.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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26 Comments on "Why ad agencies are paid the big bucks: Coca Cola and The OFW Project"

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Celebrating an economic tragedy with a product that sabotages the local sugar industry. Too bad one would die of thirst to swear off all Coke products, they really don’t deserve anyone’s money.

Hyden Toro

What investment-Led growth, Noynoy Aquino is talking about? What kind of investments? Real Estate? Extended Feudalism (Corporate Farming)? Labor intensive industries? Investment by his Oligarch Buddies, on Energy Sectors? So that they will grow richer and richer?
He’s just confusing us…or…he does not know what he is talking about…
We have no Basic Industries, that can produce jobs for people…

jesus v a villamor III
jesus v a villamor III
i was an OFW for 23 years and i left the philippines in 1980 because during my time the salary for a nurse in the private sector was 720 pesos gross…i do not know how much that translates in today’s pesos but i can definitely tell nothing has changed since a lot of filipinos are leaving for the same reason i did over 30 years ago…i understand the sacrifice of being far from your family, but i do have this question to those featured in the ad and to all other OFW’s who have not returned home because they would… Read more »

i’m not impressed. all advertising and branding is contrived and people who lap it up are plain stupid. period. advertising aside, coke is a lousy product, there are better drinks you can spend your money on. maybe it’s just me, i’m not moved by any of these emo stuff, the images are just that, acting. this theme of the crying ofw families has been exploited ad infinitum. none of it is real. it’s corny.

jesus v a villamor III
jesus v a villamor III


i admit i was choked up a bit watching this video because i can relate…but in the end this is still an ad for coke,,,exploitative and made for one reason only…brand recognition nothing more nothing less

Der Fuhrer
We all know the hate ad campaign of Der Fuhrer in his continuing, fixated, obsessive hatred against the tagged yellow star of David Arroyo Family. The demonization of her human rights is continuing. GMA is denied cellphone/gadget and even laptop communications. Being held incommunicado is also a human rights violation. This can happen to anyone now because of the dictatorial tendencies of Der Fuhrer. If you care for your human rights… Contact Amnesty International (bottom of their webpage) as I did and do the truth ads in telling them what is happening in the Philippines. Expose Der Fuhrer to the… Read more »
Jet Hernandez
Just need to qualify things. Ads are directed to a certain market segment. The coke video wants to nail down the psyche of the OFWs. From an MBAs perspective, the form and substance is OK because there is a certain touch of “corporate social responsibility” (ahhhhhrg what a term). From a deeper sociological and economic viewpoint… it’s simply a selective and curative move to increase “buyability” of kokakola. Natural behaviour of the firm. (micro perspective) On the macro-perspective you can have lotsa lotsa isyus… Namber wan – The ad specifically targeted LAND BASED TEMPORARY MIGRANTS. These migrants have their families… Read more »

Parehas din yan ng ginawa ni Abnoynoy ngyun, ginawa n nilang holiday ang chinese new year, (teka parang ganito rin nung nakaraan ah, may bibitayin n nmn ba?)


there is nothing impressive with this ad. pinaglaruan lang ng coke ang damdamin ng bobong pinoy.


One word after watching the ad: PATHOS. It practically screamed at me throughout the whole ad. Mass Communication and/or Communication Arts students or graduates should know this. So how come all comments I read about that ad on Facebook are how they were moved by it? Tsk. It’s sad.


when you say fiction, you mean this