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Belo Medical Group knew what it was doing when it recruited the very de rigeur advertising agency Gigil Group to develop their latest campaign. Known for its viral attention-grabbing video ads that more closely resemble arthouse shorts, the leading aesthetic clinic knew that whatever Gigil came up with would elicit strong reactions. And elicit strong reactions they did—except of course, as we all know, for all the wrong reasons.

As soon as it was posted on Belo’s social media accounts on August 10, the #PandemicEffect commercial was universally panned online. Many felt the ad was in poor taste, as the real #PandemicEffect was less about failing to feel beautiful and more on losing jobs and loved ones. Others denounced the ad’s decision to uphold outdated beauty standards and portraying women with plus-sized bodies and body hair as ugly.

In response, Belo quickly deleted the video ad in less than 24 hours. Still, the damage has been done. The overwhelmingly revolted reaction to the commercial brings about a learning opportunity: not just for the creative team involved but for all of us marketing and advertising professionals. What does the #PandemicEffect snafu teach us about effective marketing strategy and how to carefully craft a campaign message?

Empowering messaging trumps scare tactics.

The science backs it up: studies find that ads that evoke pleasant feelings consistently resonate with consumers more than negative, neutral, or information-based commercials do. In fact, positive-based messaging can strike a chord in consumers and is most likely to translate into positive beliefs and attitudes towards the brand. It may be tempting to go for scare-tacting messaging in order to elicit a strong reaction, but positive ads in the long term are still the best ploy for a brand to strengthen and maintain its relevance.

There’s a need to keep up with the times.

Times and cultural norms have changed, and the way people talk about beauty nowadays has become more inclusive and empowering as opposed to the oppressive standards of yore. The Belo ad might have benefitted from lengthy focus group discussions or even social listening, at least just to get a handle on how their desired customers discuss beauty online.

Think long term.

A great example of a campaign that had a perfect handle on how women feel about beauty is Dove’s 2013 “Real Beauty Sketches” digital ad. The company ran with an empowering message on how women are more beautiful than they perceive themselves, and the results speak for themselves: the ad won the Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and achieved 4.6 billion media impressions. But more important is the campaign’s lasting impact on the brand: nowadays, when people think of Dove the brand, they equate it to inclusive beauty that empowers and encourages.

How would you have improved Belo’s #PandemicEffect video ad? Chime in the comments below!

Have you been resisting the urge to leave home and head to a cafe and catch up with your friends? If so, kudos for helping flatten the curve! Of course, steering clear of restaurants and pubs may be the wise choice, but it can also affect your social life. What other socially distant option do we have to see our friends but the dreaded Zoom call?

Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to spice up our con-call catch-ups without triggering workplace Zoom PTSD. Below, we list down a few activities to make video-call night with friends something to look forward to!


Missing weekend movie marathons with the gang? Or maybe you all just want to rewatch Game of Thrones together to remember what the point was? Here’s something to tide you over: Teleparty is a free Google Chrome extension that allows you to stream shows and films in sync with your friends. Available for Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO, it even comes with a little group chat box so you can all comment on the plot in real time.

Check out Netflix Party here.

Among Us

Following in the footsteps of Monopoly (aka the ultimate friendship wrecker), Among Us is essentially a game based on deceit: the better you are at lying, the more likely you are to win. Set in a spaceship setting, the goal is to return back home to Earth with your space crew alive. The twist? There’s an alien imposter aboard your ship determined to kill off the crew—and it’s up to you and your friends to find out who among you is the traitor.

Check out Among Us here.


If Pictionary is your friend group’s go-to for game night, you might just enjoy an online game of Skribbl. Unleash your inner Picasso as you attempt to doodle a variety of words and concepts, and have your friends guess what you’re drawing. The person with the most correct guesses wins! Sounds like a piece of cake? Think again: have you ever wondered how to draw the word “forgiveness?”

Check out Skribbl here.


If you’ve been looking for a fun twist to your humdrum group trivia night, and/or have been wanting to channel your inner Alex Trebek, here’s your chance! JeopardyLabs gives you free access to a wide database of over two million Jeopardy games, with topics ranging from history, pop culture, to world capitals. The best part? You can even create your own personalized Jeopardy game—perfect for when you want to test your buddies on how well they remember your group’s inside jokes.

Check out JeopardyLabs here.

Drink Talk Learn

An ingenious twist to your typical drinking game: a drunk PowerPoint party. Created by four engineering students from the University of Waterloo, Drink Talk Learn’s rules are simple: Create and present a three-minute PowerPoint presentation about, well, anything. If you go over the time limit, you have to finish your drink and resume your lecture. The viral game is more than an excuse to break out the alcohol—it’s also a great way to learn new things and share your passions. And let’s face it, we might as well put those months of Zoom presentation skills to use, right?

Learn more about Drink Talk Learn here.

Despite the pandemic, your friendships can still stay strong. With these online games, enjoy quality time with your buds the fun-filled (and most importantly, socially-distant) way!

3 years ago I started BREVO, a creative agency in the Philippines.

It was never my intention to do so.

See, I’m from the world of government-to-business consulting, tech, and finance. Born and raised in the UK, I’ve spent a large chunk of my life working with CEOs and government officials in Malaysia and the Middle East to help developing countries, well, develop. I’m an entrepreneur with experience in start-ups and even software development.
But the head of a creative company in the Philippines?

A lot of my friends, when they hear what I’m currently doing, and where I’m doing it, think I’m mad.

“Why the Philippines?”

“You have a wife and kids there?”

“Are you running a sweatshop?”

Like many people outside the Philippines, they don’t fully understand the country’s unique offerings. They think of the “war on drugs”, the lack of infrastructure, and Imelda Marcos’s shoe collection.

But here I am, running my own creative company, and experiencing the highs and lows of doing business in this fascinating — and endlessly challenging — market.

Setting up shop (not a sweatshop)

Let me backtrack a little. In 2011, I had an office in Malaysia with the goal of developing software to serve the Philippine market. I figured we could operate the business remotely, foregoing the need to set-up physically in the Philippines.

It seemed ideal. However, workforce issues in Kuala Lumpur, such as lack of ambition, drive, and loyalty among employees (largely a cultural issue, but that’s another story for another time), convinced me to establish a second base in Metro Manila to try my luck there.

When we moved to the Philippines in 2012, my business partner and I started working with a team of 10–15 people, developing software products and producing content. I was immediately struck by the strong work ethic, deep training, and communication abilities of Filipinos. It was refreshing and intriguing.

Our workforce, primarily made up of fresh graduates from the creative arts and I.T. sector, had well-tuned technical skills. They were loyal, worked hard, had a great deal of talent and passion, as well as a sense of real community. What they seemed to lack was direction and an understanding of entrepreneurship.

A powerful seed was sown in my mind.

The Return

I eventually left for Dubai and the US for more consulting work. But I knew one thing: the Philippines was a creative and technical powerhouse. Which came in handy when my consulting work began to extend to the Philippines years later.

In 2016, I came back to Philippine shores, met an ambitious young consultant and we began working together. We started with banks, creating online solutions and content for financial institutions. Two things quickly became clear: Philippine companies need creative marketing work and the considerable Filipino talent pool was primed to meet this need.

Thus Brevo was born.

That’s the origin story in a nutshell. The growth story, however, is long and arduous! Another post for another day.

For now, I’m just happy to have a company that’s thriving in the Philippine market. No easy feat, and a lot of sweat, tears, and hair follicles were given up to make this happen.

I’ll tell you about it one day soon. As they say here, “sa susunod nalang!”

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