Photo by Abigail Amon

I Went to See Joyce Pring Talk (and Other Observations from AdCon 18)

I was a seat behind Joyce Pring for about four hours at AdCon 2018. This is like fate saying to me I did something right this year.

Of course, we’re too classy to start this piece on a stalker-ish note. Plus, I don’t want to look like I didn’t listen to anything the presenters talked about during the entire event. Err, at least I’m sure I caught the gist, though.

If you’re curious as to why AdCon is a big deal (it really is!), hit this link to know what it’s all about.

adcon 18 participants
Photo by Abigail Amon

Done? Okay then, let’s recap the important stuff from AdCon 2018!

“You’re the brand, m**********r!”

Joyce Pring was arguably the most recognizable among the roster of presenters on this year’s AdCon. A self-made celebrity with no backing from any of the top entertainment conglomerates in the country, her topic was ostensibly about “personal branding”. And no, she didn’t say that above quote—that one I heard from Kumail Nanjiani back when he was still co-hosting The Indoor Kids podcast—but it’s Nanjiani’s voice that kept ringing through my ears when Pring began to talk about developing a personal brand.

Joyce Pring Talk AdCon 18 Iloilo
Joyce Pring | Photo by Abigail Amon

“Personal branding”, as a concept, became en vogue as of late because of how it’s supposed to be useful for standing out in a very crowded job market and, of course, because of the huge numbers of bloggers and vloggers who sear by its potency. Pring, whose stock-in-trade was making hugot-themed jokes, cracked a lot of those during her talks, and I could see how she applied it even on something as short as a 45-minute talk.

Not going to lie, though: I’m still on the fence as to how much we really need to “brand” ourselves. For one, it’s like giving credence to the perception that we’re just nothing more than commodities whose data can be sold and whose behaviors can be manipulated.

Amidst all the signs that we’re heading towards an Orwellian reality, I also completely get why personal branding has become a necessity these days: it’s hard standing out in a job market if all your CV contained was your school and skills. To Pring, it’s “measured by the quality of your work,” even if it means declining projects that are not in line with one’s convictions; in her case, she said she deliberately chose not to be involved in what she called “super-sexy” gigs. Yasss, women empowerment!

Besides, who am I to question personal branding when I have a byline above?

Positivity and Sincerity is Becoming Uso Again

On the rare times I get to mindlessly scroll through my Facebook feed, it’s easy to get myself thinking that we’re living in a screwed-up period. So, I really find it surprising—refreshing, even—to see that many of the speakers pushed for positive messages in their presentations.

Pring (I can almost hear you saying, “Ugh. Here he goes again.”) credits her Christian faith to encouraging her to collaborate with different creative communities while reiterating that “the world needs more good hearts.”

Chino King, a research manager at the Ipsos Group marketing firm, kept showing examples of the lighthearted ad videos he believed was indicative of the Philippine culture today (including this damn Jollibee commercial), while VJ Francisco, an in-house product designer at Globe Telecoms, said that people still connect with stories that are “humanly and humanlike,” all while reiterating that the advantage of today’s generation from the previous is that “millennials connect deeply with a purpose.”

Chino King AdCon 18
Chino King | Photo by Abigail Amon

On the other hand, Phillip Kimpo, Jr., a present-day councilor in Kalibo who used to head the editorial team of the ‘Choose Philippines’ campaign, also insisted that having a positive mindset is important because it gives marketers the abilities to highlight the important qualities of a brand; he also kept saying the phrase “positive vibes”, and I half-expected a Bob Marley song to play during the middle of his talk.

Phillip Kimpo, Jr. AdCon 18
Phillip Kimpo, Jr. | Photo by Abigail Amon

Hearing all of these makes me think of this next question…

Why Don’t We Have These Here?

AdCon 18 groups
Photo by Abigail Amon

During the two days we attended the event, it seemed to be a given that many of the graduating students attending the event would be departing to Manila to work. For all the positive news we’ve been hearing about businesses investing in Iloilo, the “brain drain” still looms large when it comes to hiring talent. Of course, we’re seeing engineers and nurses go to work abroad for better pay, so acquiring talent to support the local industry isn’t just a regional problem; it’s still an issue affecting the entire country.

Ironically, Pring—whose go-getting, entrepreneurial skillset have landed her jobs ranging from hosting to endorsing—may have provided the perfect example of what today’s young workforce can achieve in an economy where the probability of long-term employment is slim. It’s not just a question of “beat them or join them” anymore; you can actually build them. Do-It-Yourself is the reality we’re all in now.

And if you’re asking, I didn’t get a selfie with Pring. Life is hard, man.

Joseph Batcagan is the editor and a writer for Project Iloilo.