City of Manila,  Roamer's Roundup

On The “Erich Billboard” Stunt

It has only been less than a week since July started but it seems there is one big issue that has pretty much defined this month so far. Yup, we’re talking about that “interesting” billboard that popped up in the Manila skyline recently.

The billboard, located at the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue and Nicanor Reyes (formerly Morayta) Avenue, had an “interesting” premise. An ambitious, even crazy one, some might say. It was depicting a faceless guy holding one of those boxes that would usually contain a ring or necklace but instead contained a coffee bean in this case. Along with it was a message addressed to actress Erich Gonzales, addressing her in her full real name no less, by some guy identified as Xian Gaza saying that he “likes her a latte” (quite overused pun, I say) and asking if he can invite her for coffee.

Billboard stunts like this one are not common but are not exactly new. One example that comes to mind is the “Olivia” billboard that was the talk of the town a few years ago which turned out to be an ad by a property developer to sell its condos. Which leads to the question: is this some of form of a marketing stunt as well by this Xian Gaza fellow? Considering that the guy has a coffee business (among a number of other alleged “businesses”), there is that possibility that it is so, especially that there’s a celebrity involved.

With that said, this piece will not spend much time critiquing this Xian Gaza fellow. A quick search should tell you all you need to know about him, many of them not positive ones. Instead, the Urban Roamer would like to zero in on the ad itself and the “mistakes” it has committed as far as achieving its goal is concerned.

First, what’s with addressing Erich Gonzales with her screen name and real name? I mean, what’s the point of including her real name? Both names refer to the same person so stick with one name to call her. And that alone should give one the creeps.

Second, why is the guy in billboard faceless? Faceless guys are creepy, so this already doubles the creepiness of this billboard. If the faceless guy is supposed to be Xian, why not have the face show Xian’s face or a caricature of him? Then again, some people don’t like the guy’s face at all so why not show a mascot instead? For a guy who supposedly is a CEO of some “businesses”, this would have been a great branding opportunity for him and his businesses. Brand recognition is all I’m saying here.

Third, why is this ad placed in Manila’s University Belt area? Does Erich study or frequent the area? Yes, I know that the location does not matter in the virality the billboard achieved, and it can be argued that the billboard can make people frequent the place where it is located. But then again, she’s a famous celebrity. And if you are a guy with a big ego who wants to show off to impress one, you go all out and go for the maximum. What I’m saying here is that….this should have been placed in EDSA, where there’s a better chance for Erich to see it herself. And if this turns out to be a marketing ploy, then it will somehow turn up good for the business. Just ask Empire East.

Despite what has been written as to why this guy did this stunt, it’s still baffling why he did this, publicity  aside. After all, a billboard of this size located along a major thoroughfare and a busy area like Manila’s University Belt costs a lot. Yet part of me somehow kinda relates to this as I have done some stupid things like this for a girl before. It turned out well. (to be read in a sarcastic tone; it did not and I felt stupid doing that in the first place)

But like I said, I won’t badger on the guy too much here. There are people who are already doing that for him, including the guy himself. In the end, all the Urban Roamer has to say about this is: whatever. Let me drink some UCC Coffee from Japan Home Center as I read some news of some real relationship goals.

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