For Philippines-based art director Adrian De Guzman, the thought that he would enter the advertising industry didn’t cross his mind much growing up. The self-confessed active and super talkative kid grew up in Navotas City, which he refers to as a “SEA-ty” because of the regular flooding. “I would normally go out of our house with my slacks curled up and would brave the knee-deep waters.” As someone who was a leader at school, his early years put him in a privileged position to speak his mind thanks to his parents’ progressive approach to life. “As a queer person, I am very humbled and very thankful to the upbringing my parents have brought to me.”
As the years progressed Adrian used his ability to speak his mind to weld together his passion for pop music with his podcast, Pop Emergency. “She was born last May, and it was actually a year in the making! The explosion of creativity during the time of pandemic made us finally do it. Think of it as two pop music stans profoundly talking about the different facets of pop music. We talk with depth and critically analyse anything that we want to talk about.”
The podcast really came into its own during the Philippines’ lockdown with Adrian and his co-host Alwyn receiving countless messages about the positive effect they’d had on people’s mindsets during the difficult time. “We have taken this platform to a whole new level—a safe space for queer people like us and for people who just love music. The amount of waves doubled until we started to get a feature from Scout Magazine, a leading youth and pop culture publication in the Philippines. And since everything is political, our show had a new purpose: to empower and amplify the voice of minorities—including the queer community.
“In November, several typhoons hit our country. And Alwyn and I thought of ways to help. It led us to our #PopMovement campaign, which aimed to raise funds for the victims of the typhoons. With everyone’s help, we were able to raise an astounding amount of Php76,000 ($1580)!”
With such an exciting side project, Adrian has never let his professional career slide and after initially studying for a degree in mechanical engineering, to take after his father, he shifted to communication. “To be honest, we only had one subject in college that would properly tackle advertising, but at the same time, we were really encouraged to join competitions outside of the school to sharpen our skills more. I will never forget that one time when I presented my idea to my professor for a radio PSA, I think it was a very pivotal moment for me because it got me hooked on advertising.”
Taking this into his career, he recalls how his responsibility to “give back” to the LGBTQIA+ community compelled him to work on the Knorr ‘Kanya-Kanya’ campaign
for which he drew upon his life. “In the actual script made were the words my mother said to me when I came out to her. When we presented that to the client, they were very supportive and receptive of the idea, which made me happy. It may not be the chosen idea, that didn’t stop me to further think of queer stories because there’s always a lot to be celebrated about us—our stories, our struggles, our hardships and our existence.”
While this particular project drew upon his personal experiences, the advice Adrian remembers the most throughout his career is a boss telling him that the first ten ideas are ones that colleagues already have, the 11th and 12th come from the very core of the brain. This provided him with food for thought: “It really honed my craft in terms of ideation that critical thinking is very important in this industry.
“Everyday is a challenge for people in the advertising industry especially for creatives. The only constant factor and/or determinant for growth is the amount of ideas we put out that gets approved from our creative leaders.” And while Adrian does feel frustration with budget limitations getting in the way of expressing creativity, the process of thinking of new ideas is one that excites him greatly. “Nothing beats the feeling when clients give enough and/or more than enough.”
The excitement of Adrian’s career and passions lends itself to his zeal for harnessing his creativity and for him: “Creativity comes out in different forms, and it’s always up to us how we maximise it in all ways, always!”