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Thanks RC Cola, now can Filipino ads be weird again?

Japan gets too much credit for weird-ass commercials. Well, we can get weird too—just ask Y2K Filipino commercials. 

Recently, RC Cola’s latest commercial went viral for its absurd yet eerily heartwarming humor. It’s a story of a boy asking his mom if he was adopted all this time. Why did he ask? Well, he’s the only one in the family with four glasses stuck on his back. Little did he know, his mom’s well-kept secret is that underneath her head, she’s an RC Cola bottle. 

There are no famous faces in the ad nor a trying-hard attempt to relate to the youth. What it does have, however, is a relatable storyline for all ages. And that’s what made the commercial go viral in seconds. 

Twitter exploded because of this absurd ad. Going to the soc med site’s “RC Cola” will give you conspiracy theories, in-depth commentary and numerous “head removal ala RC Cola mom” memes. While it received a largely positive response, there are those who dismiss it as just a copy of Japanese advertisers’ humor. 

As a child raised on Super Ferry’s “Super Shawie” commercial, I would like to virtually shout this response: Hell to the fucking nah.

Weird Filipino commercials have always existed. And guess what? They are underrated as fuck. Y2K kids like me know that commercials nowadays are way different from the ones we grew up with. Also not to sound like a boomer on main, but they were way better too ’cause they weren’t afraid to be creative. 

So believe me when I say this; weird-ass Filipino commercials are underrated as fuck, but their impact is forever. 

People bookmark  their childhood with films or songs. In my case, I have iconic, weird and funny Filipino commercials as marker. They are composed of ridiculous earworm jingles (Rejoice “Sumusunod sa Galaw”), a sad storyline that will haunt you ’till you grow older (shoutout to McDonald’s “Karen Po” and “Kanlungan” ads) or a premise that just screams WTF (Boysen’s “Preso” and Fita’s “Sports Car” TVC know the vibes).

Even if we don’t buy what they’re selling, a weird yet iconic commercial can stick with you. It influences you outside TV  screens by entering the pop culture zeitgeist. Coca-Cola’s “Beat Sabay-Sabay” challenge ruled every classroom in the mid-00s. Hell, some of us didn’t use Dragon Katol, but we know the iconic line “basta lamok, tepok” uttered by a pseudo-Indiana Jones foreigner. 

These commercials were fun, enjoyable or impactful. Now, I’m starting to wonder—why is that?

Going back to Japan’s weird commercials, I may have found the answer. UCreative points out that advertisers in Japan don’t focus on the message, but go for full-on entertainment.

“Their thought process is (that) if a company or product is related to happy thoughts, then it’s a good thing, which is true,” writes UCreative. “You don’t want a product that spells your impending doom, or subscribe to a company that brings forth the loss of everything that makes you you.”

Now, I’m no advertising or marketing graduate. I don’t know the stats and the commercial game that well. But what I am is a consumer. And as a consumer, my insights in this late capitalist society still matter—even sought out. 

So believe me when I say this; weird-ass Filipino commercials are underrated as fuck, but their impact is forever. 

When I was a child, weird-ass commercials were a 30-second sight to behold, squeezed in between “Primetime Bida” or “Anime sa Hapon.” They didn’t make  me want to buy the product in a heartbeat. However, they dared us to laugh at the absurdity of life and to keep thinking big despite limitations. 

As a Filipino surviving a “cash rules everything around me” world, I must say [weird commercials] make the dreariness more livable.

I can’t think of any recent commercial with the same impact as the weird ones I grew up with. All I see are state-of-the-art computer graphics and a celebrity’s star power amping up a product’s appeal. To be frank, I’m so tired of seeing them. But creative ads like that recent RC Cola stunner give me hope. 

Nostalgia might be a culprit for my attachment to weird-ass, iconic commercials from the Y2K. As a Filipino surviving a “cash rules everything around me” world, I must say they make the dreariness more livable. And we all need that, especially now.

Read more:
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Art by Yel Sayo 

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