For an industry that people associate the most with the commercials we see on television, ads we read in publications, and the creation of consumer demand for products and services through the daily bombardment of targeted posts—or that next viral campaign on social media, one may be moved to ask: is that all there is to the world of advertising? Do advertising agencies and creatives exist for the sole purpose of enticing, promoting, and selling—making products fly off the shelves as the old saying goes?

Thankfully, times have changed. And so has the industry of advertising. Agencies globally are fast adapting advertising that’s imbued with relevance and purpose, of leveraging on creativity towards creating a positive impact on communities, the marginalized, and for supporting causes that make a difference. And with this new brand marketing focus in these new times, a shift from brand promotion to value creation has given rise to the challenge of creating good work for social good.

Good advertising work by doing good

Among the local creative agencies that have embraced this ethos is GIGIL, International Small Agency of the Year in the Ad Age Small Agency Awards for 2021. Apart from imbibing the spirit of being fun, Filipino, true, brave, and all passion, which is well expressed in the unexpected thinking that comes with their work, the young creative hot house also takes to heart the belief that “good work also means doing good.”

“We keep reminding ourselves that ideas are our primary resource—and that when utilized properly can do a lot of good,” says Jake Yrastorza, Managing Partner. “So, we’re always thinking of unconventional yet effective ways to help push our advocacies and those of our partners.”

This is a principle they’ve brought to life by adapting, in these trying times, responsive, high-impact advocacies towards education and the youth: the #GiveBackgrounds phone drive campaign for online learning and the 75 under 75 program that addresses the needs of struggling learners, both under the auspices of Silid Aralan, Inc.; and the Push Pinas voter registration effort.

#GiveBackgrounds: second-hand gadgets give new purpose

With the onset of the pandemic bringing physical, face-to-face classes to a halt and the subsequent shift towards online learning, the lack of access to the needed gadgets such as smartphones among kids in underprivileged communities became readily apparent. Thus, the agency partnered with the education-focused NGO Silid Aralan, Inc. (SAI) in launching the #GiveBackgrounds donation drive and its goal of providing 600 Silid Aralan Learners with smartphones.

Seeing how virtual backgrounds are commonly used in Zoom calls, a question was posed: what if these were monetized, by featuring a QR code that leads people you’re meeting with to a website where they can make donations?  This was the idea behind #GiveBackgrounds—the backgrounds that keep on giving, so more smartphones can be bought and given to Filipino students, so they can study remotely.

This novel undertaking is still ongoing, but they’re well on their way of reaching their target of donating 600 smartphones.

75 under 75: teaching underperforming students to love learning

Again partnering with Silid Aralan, Inc. (SAI), the agency this time set out to celebrate underachievers by helping young students who are underperforming academically, those with grades 75 and below.

Tapping into Silid Aralan’s proven Ground Zero program that’s focused on academic improvement and transformation through interventions customized to their passions, hobbies, and learning styles, and by believing in every student’s potential for achievement, SAI makes these underachievers love learning, therefore motivating them to perform better.

“We are not teaching kids how to learn, we teach them how to love learning,” said Arcie Mallari of Silid Aralan, Inc. “We are actually building the character of the child, the learner.”

Having previously established the effective Ground Zero program, Silid Aralan then called for entries to the “75 under 75” competition that GIGIL conceptualized, in which teachers from different public schools across the country were called to enter their chosen students, each one receiving a learning materials package, internet allowance for online learning sessions, and the supervision from a mentor cum learning facilitator.

An initial 100 plus entrants were received which was further reduced to 75 students from the Ilocos Region, CALABARZON, Metro Manila, Cebu City, Cagayan de Oro, and South Cotabato.

Push Pinas: encouraging the youth to register in 2022 elections

Targeting another timely concern in encouraging the youth—who account for more than half of the voting population—to take part in the 2022 national elections and make a positive impact, the agency partnered with NGO Push Pinas for a voter registration campaign. Part of its initial effort was the development of a viral video that emphasizes the consequences if they don’t register to vote, where the proponents ensured that the execution was lighthearted enough to attract intended audiences but without diminishing the seriousness of the message.

Harnessing the power of advertising and creativity

Even with the amount of challenges that our country is facing today, Yrastorza remains a firm believer in how the power of advertising and the strength of creative work can create a profound difference in society, one step at a time. Thus, the agency has further adopted other advocacies such as mental health concerns under Padayon, the Walang Iwanan Alliance and the production of an e-commerce campaign called “Langit Points” on Lazada and Shopee towards buying food for the hungry during the pandemic, and helping freelancers find work through Indierectory.

“We’ve seen that in the different projects we’ve worked on—whether it’s providing hope for those having difficulties at school, reassuring people struggling with their mental health, encouraging those with more in life to contribute to the hungry—we’ve witnessed how powerful ideas can change lives positively,” he says. “We would like to be doing this for many, many more years to come.”

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