Hands down, this is the weirdest ad we’ve seen all year. The spot for the Philippines from RC Cola tells the story of a son who confronts his mother after he suspects he is adopted, given the insinuations of his classmates. It starts out as a typically soapy drama, but midway it takes a completely unexpected turn.
According to Gigil Managing Partner Jake Yrastorza, RC Cola has been the agency’s client for two years. The brief for this particular campaign was to differentiate the brand in the mind of the Gen Z drinker. Other brands had reached parity with the soda in terms of pricing, so RC needed to stand for something more impactful, he says.
The campaign hinges on insight around the word “basta,” which appears as part of the spot’s absurd title (“Nyahahakbkxjbcjhishdishlsab@!!!! Basta RC Cola!”) and in the dialog. The tagalog word loosely translates to “whatever.”
Yrastorza says the insight reflects the mindset of the brand’s Gen Z target. “They live in the moment. They don’t need a list of reasons before they do something. They can do or buy something because—well, you know, whatever. There’s no need to explain. We appropriated that attitude and made the brand stand for it. Making the RC a mirror of our drinker.”
But how do you make the leap from “whatever” to a scenario featuring a kid with glasses planted in his back and a mom with an RC Cola bottle head?
Gigil Associate Creative Director Dionie Tanada says that the category typically turns to music marketing and taste tests, so for RC, the agency wanted to seize on a different kind of territory—humor. “We used humor to make the brand stand for something cool in the minds of the Gen Z audience, so much so that they’d want to be associated with it,” he says.
The ad was directed by indie director Marius Talampas, who Tanada says was chosen for his storytelling skill and comedic timing. “One of the things we also do at Gigil is we try to get directors who aren’t too ‘commercial’ so they can lend fresh insight into the material,” he says.
The out-there humor of the ad feels more characteristic of ads we’ve seen from Thailand, but Tanada says it’s an unexpected approach for the Filipino market—“which is why we went for it. The Gen Z audience is familiar with that sort of offbeat humor and storytelling because of their 24/7 exposure to everything digital. And that is why it completely resonated with them.”
Yrastorza says the business results have yet to come in, but there are anecdotal signs of sales increases across the country, with many stores completely sold out of their RC stock and re-ordering product.
As for the story itself, we have so many questions: Is the kid really adopted? Does his cup-back come from being a child of bottle head? Is it kosher that Mom drinks her own cola? Is one of the boy’s grandparents a bottle of RC?
“You tell us,” Tanada laughs. But perhaps that’s the point. The spot already has all sorts of reaction videos on YouTube.
On whether we’ll see a sequel about the RC Cola clan, Tanada says, “Maybe there’s a sequel. Or a prequel. Or something totally different. We don’t know. Whatever!”
This article first appeared in adage.com