Chief Strategy Officer – McCann Worldgroup, Philippines
AME’s Grand Jury is the powerhouse behind the prestigious AME Awards, their high standard of excellence ensures that AME’s 25-year legacy is upheld and respected globally both by winners and industry reports measuring creative distinction.
2019 AME Grand Jury member, Gino Borromeo leads the cross-functional strategy team of McCann Worldgroup, the Philippines’ largest marketing communications agency whose clients include Nestle, Coca-Cola, Unilab, Jollibee Foods Corporation, BPI, Ayala Land, Philippine Airlines and San Miguel Beer among many others.
As Chief Strategy Officer, Gino brings nearly 20 years of hands-on experience planning for brands at the local, regional and global level – both for consumer and B2B brands. He is also the local market champion for Truth Central, the global thought leadership unit of McCann Worldgroup. Through the use of proprietary Truth Studies, Truth Central's mission is to uncover the hidden truths about people and culture that can make brands successful in the world today.
AME Awards: AME’s winners and entrants are behind some of the most innovative leading-edge creative work on the planet that delivers the most impactful result. Tell us about your process of creating and delivering creative and effective results. Are your ideas inspired or do they come together as the result of a collective brainstorming session with your team?
Gino Borromeo: How we define the problem defines the solution we will create. This is why our process is based on defining the outcome we want to achieve for the brand given its objectives and the challenges it faces. Defining the outcome not only helps us envision what kind of creative solution will be needed, it also helps us figure out early on how we might measure our success.
This kind of process is highly collaborative – it often involves different kinds of people with both analytical and lateral thinking ability. It’s also highly iterative – we start one way and often end up working back and worth as we discover new things about the problem we’re solving, and new ways to potentially solve it.
AME Awards: As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative and effective advertising…what do ads that have taken the brief and turned it into campaign that transforms opinions, evokes action and raises the bar for the brand have in common?
Gino Borromeo: While every campaign is different, there are two enduring traits that the most successful ones have in common.
The first trait is clarity about their objectives. The most effective campaigns are brutally clear about what they’re trying to accomplish. They are incredibly specific and realistic about how they’re going to help the brand’s business, and what specific kind of behavior or perception change they need to trigger among people in order to positively impact the business.
The second trait is they connect emotionally to people. It’s often overlooked that people respond with their emotions first. And that our emotions have an outsized influence on our behavior. This is true both for consumers and for jury members. So the campaigns that connect with us on a human level, whether they make us laugh, smile, swoon or cry, those are often the ones that move things for a brand.
AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?
Gino Borromeo: Effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards are important because they are a constant reminder of the fundamental purpose of our business: To drive the success of brands.
This purpose is often forgotten amidst the industry’s frequent soul searching and questioning of its reason for being. But this fundamental purpose to drive success for brands is arguably more relevant than ever and therefore something we need to lean into even more as an industry.
In a world where there are more brands than ever and more empowered consumers than ever, we have to be even better at driving successful outcomes for the brands we serve. This commercial purpose is not dissonant from the broader purpose many of us in the industry want brands to play. After all, a brand whose business is healthy has a much stronger platform from which to do good for the world.
AME Awards: Why did you agree to participate on this year’s AME Grand Jury and What do you hope to learn by viewing entries into this competition?
Gino Borromeo: I look at effectiveness competitions like the AME like what the Olympics represents for sports. It celebrates the best of what we can achieve. And by celebrating our best, it inspires all of us to do even better, so that someday we can also be among the best.
I look forward to seeing what the best marketing in the world today looks like. So that I may learn from their example and be inspired myself to do even better.
AME Awards: What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads and why in your opinion did they triumph?
Gino Borromeo: My favorite of recent years is the Guilt Trip campaign for V Line trains in Australia. It was solving a difficult problem, by smartly harnessing guilt to motivate young Australians to go home. The craft of the campaign itself and the craft of the case study were also brilliant. The thinking follows a very tight straight line, and it’s almost impossible not to be charmed by the campaign.
AME Awards: In your personal work what are the hallmarks of creative and strategic success? What campaign or campaigns are you most proud of (don’t be shy brag about your accomplishments)?
Gino Borromeo: As I said earlier, I truly believe that the twin hallmarks of creative and strategic success are 1) clarity of objectives and 2) being able to connect emotionally to people. Unless we move people into a particular action that’s good for the business, we won’t move anything for a brand.
One of the pieces of work I’ve particularly proud of is our recent campaign for Jollibee, Valentine’s Joy for the Heartbroken. More than its success in international effectiveness shows, it got the entire country reacting emotionally and talking about the campaign for nearly a month. It’s increasingly rare to see advertising take over the pop culture conversation, so for me it’s a great reminder of what we can do at our best.
AME Awards: What advice or guidelines would you give to potential entrants on earning an AME Award?
Gino Borromeo: Have a clear but compelling narrative. A lot of good campaigns don’t win because their story wasn’t told well. The judges need to know why your work deserves to win amidst so many other pieces of work.
Obsess about clearly defining objectives and measures of success. Judges will want to know how exactly the campaign drove success for the brand, and if it the success can truly be attributed to the campaign.
AME Awards: AME’s Grand Jury, emanating from 5 regions around the globe provides the opportunity to earn trophies within a region and on the global stage. Why in your opinion is the idea of AME’s Grand Jury judging both regional and then the entire Grand Jury judging all the Gold winning work to select Platinum winners and Best in Show important to both entrants and to jurors?
Gino Borromeo: It’s important because of the cultural context and diversity that you need to take into account when judging work from different countries. What may not look successful from one market’s lens may be totally different when you fully appreciate the cultural context of a particular campaign.
Doing it this way helps campaigns get reviewed on more equal footing vs applying the same lens to every piece of work.
AME Awards: What is one secret of your success that no one knows about you (till now)?
Gino Borromeo: Preparation, preparation, preparation. Success doesn’t happen purely by accident.
AME Awards: What philosophy or iconic individual inspires you in both your career and life?
Gino Borromeo: To borrow the words of Sir John Hegarty, “Creativity is a preoccupation, not an occupation.” It’s a way of being and a way of living. Wise words that remind me why this job is still the best job in the world.