Safeguard Ad of the Month

Photo from Safeguard Philippines

Photo from Safeguard Philippines

PANA’s Ad of the Month is Safeguard’s “Pabaon sa Buhay” Ad Featuring Norman King, the first Aeta to graduate from the University of the Philippines

When the news broke about Norman King being the first Aeta to graduate from the University of the Philippines, it was a source of inspiration for many. But a short film about Norman’s back story of his inner struggles with his Aeta identity and how words of encouragement from his mother, Warlita, helped him overcome them, was a heartwarming tale about the enduring bond between a mother and son.

A segment of the three-minute film showed Warlita teaching a young Norman how to wash his hands and Norman innocently asks his mother if the reason why people call him “dirty” is because the color of his skin is the same color as soil. She takes his hands in hers and tells him that an unclean person is one with an unclean heart.


It is only in this short hand washing scene that the film hints at being linked to Safeguard. The film was actually the first time the 52-year-old brand and crown jewel of Procter & Gamble Philippines departed from its time-tested germ protection advertising formula.

“Safeguard enjoys a long and strong bond with its consumers, but it has always been rooted in the rational product benefits of the brand like the PAMET (Philippine Association of Medical Technologists) seal or the promise of fighting germs. We wanted to go deeper into the brand’s emotional benefits and family values,” said Lester Estrada, Procter & Gamble Country Marketing Director.


The result was a story about how the ritual of handwashing is also teaching moment that strengthens family ties. In the case of Norman and his mother, Warlita, it was a moment for her to pass on words of wisdom that would constantly remind Norman to be always be proud of his Aeta roots. Her words gave Norman the determination to rise about his circumstances.

From a brand messaging standpoint, Procter & Gamble kept its main messages about germ protection to mainstream channels and released the film about Norman only on social media.


Social media erupted with praise for the film.

Esquire Philippines applauded the commercial for its message to be true to yourself.

“For too long, brands have sold soap to Filipinos by promising whiteness...finally a soap commercial that for once, takes pride in who we are instead of offering us a chance to be something else,” read the article in Esquire.

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN came out with a list of the greatest lessons Norman King learned from his mother.


Netizens also took to the P&G Consumer Hotline to show how they were moved by the film.

Hi Safeguard! I'm a 19-year-old Communication student from Cavite. I've recently watched your advertisement about Mr. Norman King. I thought that it was inspiring and creative. The world needs more advertisements like these. I could not wait to graduate and produce quality films such as these. Thank you and I enjoyed it very much! <3  

~  Alyssa Mae Dela Pena


Hello there Safeguard, P&G. I just (want) to comment about the advertisement pabaon sa buhay. I really like it. It inspired me a lot, because a simple Aeta man live in a simple life, and poor. But they survive, with his mother gave him very touching and beautiful advice to him. Wow! How nice. Very touching advertisement, inspirational indeed. More power to you Safeguard. I want to be like Norman King.

~ Leo Lim


For Norman, the most touching was how the ad helped shatter stereotypes about the Aeta community.

“People are aware of the Aeta, yes, it's just that they were not noticed for a long time  because all people know about the Aeta is how they are usually portrayed in media: poor people, lacking education and still living on the mountains as hunter-gatherers,” said Norman.


“Even though the ad showed only a few scenes in the school, it illustrated how the Aeta people can go beyond, if only given the opportunity,” he added.

Norman was also surprised by how the ad also positively impacted people from all over the world as seen by their reaction videos on YouTube. He shared these videos with his mother who he said laughed when she heard the commentators say, "They are native” referring to the Aetas, “Because when you say ‘native’ it pertains to a native chicken in our culture,” explained Norman.

Warlita was especially touched by the reaction videos of people crying as they watched the film, proof that her words of wisdom have inspired not only Norman, but a world of people.