New Campaign Interview: Pabaon Sa Buhay (Protection for Life)

Created for P&G by Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore, the campaign idea is built on the core tension that every parent face in bringing up their children.

by Dasha Ovsyannikova


P&G’s Safeguard® has launched a new campaign called “Pabaon Sa Buhay” (Protection for life) – reinforcing the brand’s belief that the lessons learnt at home have the ability to shape and protect a child for life.


Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

We were given a brief for a new campaign in the Philippines which aims to celebrate the value of parenting. So we looked for authentic stories that will illustrate this vividly. That’s how we found the story of Norman King   - the very first Aeta graduate of the University of the Philippines, Manila. (The Aetas are considered to be the original settlers of the Philippine Islands.)


Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

In the Philippines, Safeguard is a mom’s first choice if she wants to protect her family from germs. As the leader of the category, Safeguard wanted to celebrate this maternal protective instinct. In every mother, however, there are two forces at play: one side of her never wants to leave her kid all alone for fear of what he may encounter in the big, bad world outside. But another side of her knows that leaving him to fend for himself as soon as he is able is good for his holistic development. To train her child to become more self-sufficient, the Filipino mom gives her child “baon” - a kind of provision that helps a child deal with the world outside. This baon ranges from the mundane (packed lunch or daily allowance,  practical advice) to the profound (life lessons, the right values). Ultimately, it’s this “baon” that gives a mom confidence that when she sends her kid outside he is properly provided for and protected. Thus “Pabaon sa Buhay” or “Protection for Life”.


Tell us about the creative brief, what did it ask?

The brief asked us to bring the idea of “Pabaon Sa Buhay” (Protection for life) to life in a way that will resonate and touch the hearts of Filipino moms - and reflect the role of Safeguard in their lives in the past 50 years.


Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

On one level, protection is physical: protecting your child from germs that may cause sickness for example. But on another level, protection extends to a child emotional well-being. This is why parents teach kids the big life lessons and good values that will help protect their character and identity as they deal with the world outside. Norman King’s mother Warlita is a great example of this. On the one hand, we think Norman brave for wearing the traditional “bahag” (a loin cloth - in this case, a formal one worn for ceremonial purposes) during his graduation ceremony. But on the other hand, that act was also a tribute to how his mother Warlita has been protecting his cultural identity all these years.


Can you share with us alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?

There were other equally powerful stories but we were always on the lookout for authenticity.


How did the client initially react to this idea?

We are very fortunate to have clients who were pushing us to do the best work. The decision to pursue this project is a testament to their bravery and intelligence. They loved this story at first presentation. In fact, they never asked for any revisions. The few changes we did have to make was a result of our extensive interviews with Norman King.


What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development.

There were a lot of hurdles - including: getting the approval of the entire Aeta community - not to mention Norman and his family; looking for all-Aeta leading players who knew how to act; and shooting as much as we can within the limitation of two shooting days.


What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

The profound humility of our all-Aeta cast - from Jonalyn, who played the mother to Borjack who played the small child - was extremely infectious. Insisting on them was a risky gamble that paid off - they are all such amazing actors. Doing this taught us the true value of reaching for utmost authenticity not just in the way we cast but in the way we create our films.


Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

This campaign will go wherever a mom’s protective instinct leads it. We’re aiming to do a full campaign using all kinds of media to carry this message.