MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Philippine advertising lost one of its bright lights recently when Randy Mari Aquino passed away on March 21, 2021 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. With over two decades in the advertising industry, Randy was a beloved figure who colleagues viewed as a guiding light for many careers.
From 1994 to 2004, Randy rose through the ranks at Jimenez D’Arcy/JimenezDMB&B/Publicis Jimenez Basic through several name changes, eventually becoming Head of Planning and Research. In this role, he handled the entire strategic requirements of the agency, helping clients manage their brand portfolios, brand strategies, analyzing insights, and conducting brand research.
“I met Randy in 1996 when I joined Jimenez DMB&B,” shares Tats Cruz, Head of Agency, Publicis JimenezBasic. “He was head of Strategic Planning then. We were seatmates and would spend hours chatting away in our little corner in Pacific Star. He made me feel right at home. Randy was a friend who had a big and generous heart for everyone. His kindness was genuine. I will miss his positivity, his laughter, his bear hugs! One of his last messages to me was that he said he would pray for me, cheer for me and be there for me. I am sure he will keep to his promise from heaven!”
This was followed by a three-year stint as Managing Director of BBDO Guerrero Ortega from 2004 to 2007. “Randy joined us as planning director and became our MD in, I think, 2005,” says BBDO Guerrero Creative Chairman David Guerrero. “He was insightful in his thinking and led us into our new offices. He was someone who cared for everyone in the office and got us all to transition successfully to our ‘big new office’ at the time. He also recruited a lot of great people in the office and continued to stay in touch even when he moved on to other opportunities.”
Those new opportunities meant becoming CEO and Vice-Chairman for Ogilvy and Mather Philippines from 2007 to 2012. Tina Coscolluela, former Managing Director for Ogilvy Philippines had the following to say on Randy’s passing: “It may be a surprise to all of you but I only met Randy in a 4A’s meeting in 2007. I was going to retire the year after, and I was looking for my successor/strategic planning director. I consulted with good friends he worked with and he was highly recommended. We finally met each other personally in a 4As meeting where both of us were elected to the Board. We congratulated each other and I whispered to him that I will be in touch. In a few days I called and invited him for a drink at the Tower Club.”
“Interviews are always awkward in the first few minutes. Not this one,” Coscolluela adds. “We put the business talk aside in the first few minutes and then we were engrossed with stories. The waiter politely told us that it was closing time and I could not believe that it was already 10pm. We started at 6pm! It was a wonderful evening and I felt whichever way Randy would choose, we would become friends. That was the beginning of a friendship which lasted till he left us. Aside from being his boss, Randy and I shared the same family values. Every single get-together, the highlight of our conversation was about family. Randy’s stories drew me closer to him. But I am consoled that he is now at peace and pain free. Another gentle soul gone too soon. Farewell dearest Rands. Much love.”
For her part, current Ogilvy Philippines CEO Elly Puyat worked with Randy for two years from 2007 when she served as Head of Country: “Randy was always generous to a very headstrong and temperamental younger Elly. He was always understanding and patient. Traits I thought were weak then, but I understand now makes you even more powerful as a leader. Thank you Rands.”
After Ogilvy and Mather, Randy spent some time on the client side, serving as Head of Regional Market Development at Monde Nissin Corporation-Asia Pacific. He was then lured back to advertising, to become Chief Executive Officer at Y&R Philippines in 2016. In his long advertising career, Randy was actively involved with organizations like the 4As, the Adboard, the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA), and the Ad Congress.
“Working with Randy in numerous industry projects was truly a privilege” bares Blen Fernando, chairwoman of the Ad Standards Council (Philippines) and Chairwoman of the PANA Foundation. “ACRC/AdBoard, AdCongresses, Araw Values Awards and, of course, we were the founding incorporators of ASC. I was never Randy’s client as Alaska Milk, but our industry work made us good friends. He was a great talent – intelligent, witty, funny; but most of all, a caring, honest, fair, decent, and thoughtful friend.”
“When he retired from the industry, Randy sent me a surprise gift,” Fernando says. “When I asked what it was for, he simply said it was to thank me for believing in his capabilities, for the years of friendship. Randy, thank you for your gift of friendship. When I look up, I know you are smiling at us. I can even hear you mimic the voice of a past president making a big announcement: You attained your wish to have quality of life amidst your illness. Up there, you now have the best quality of life.”
The 4As of the Philippines released a statement on Randy’s passing, saying, “We would like to send our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Randy Aquino. He was a respected member of the advertising community, an esteemed colleague, and a beloved friend. He will truly be missed.”
“Randy was Y&R CEO from end-2016 to 3Q 2017. I was his partner CCO. After the departure of a march of CEOs, Randy accepted our invitation to lead Y&R Philippines. He was a born teacher, whose deepest joy was mentoring others.” shares former Y&R Philippines, Chief Creative Officer and partner at GIGL, Badong Abesamis, ” He was a gifted planner, whose strategies, if a writer wasn’t careful, could sound better than their copy. He was a brave leader, who, in the face of bullies, stood up to power. Thank you, Randy Aquino.”
Randy’s final professional role was as Senior Planning Advisor at AdSpark. Here, he worked with the man who succeeded him as Y&R Philippines CEO, Onat Roldan.
“I have always considered Randy to be my career mentor — he prodded me to always have a well-thought out point of view that takes to account ALL sides, and to remember that people are truly at the center of everything we do so design it to have an impact in the quality of life. I was ecstatic when he accepted the consultancy role at AdSpark because I knew he would play a key role in creating a future-proof agency. It is worthwhile to note that, for someone of his stature and significance, his last stop was a local, independent agency who dreamed big. Just like him.” laments former AdSpark CEO and President Roldan.
“It is truly heartbreaking, but Randy is in a better place now,” he added. “He bravely battled pancreatic cancer for four years. Despite his condition, he was still working on a new AdSpark thought sparker until he passed. He refused to be slowed down. The industry is a bit duller as we lost Randy and his brilliance and integrity. May he rest in peace.”
“Randy always cared a lot about people: He always cared a lot about the consumer – are we listening well? Are we representing them well? Are we beginning this effort with them in mind? Totoo ba itong mga sinasabi natin, o haka-haka lang ito ng mga gumagawa ng produkto? Where will they be 3-5 years from now? What’s the context of everything? More importantly, though – he cared a lot about the people he worked with: always asking how you, your friends, your family are – in the most genuine way possible. Always making sure people are headed towards better trajectories in life, making sure everyone gets help, always taking every question seriously. And he sincerely enjoyed being with us.” – Martin Sarmenta, AdSpark Strategic Planning Team Lead
“What I really miss about Randy is his openness to new ways of working and thinking. He is unafraid to experiment and challenge norms. It was refreshing that someone from his background would be so willing to learn from us, but at the same time show how his knowledge can also mesh well with ours. He doesn’t impose. He learns and shares; as a continuous student and a wise mentor at the same time. “ – Jean Agor, Associate Director, AdSpark Media and Creative Strategy
Underlining Randy’s influence throughout Philippine advertising, other luminaries paid tribute, including Wunderman Thompson Philippines CEO Golda Roldan: “Randy is one of my dearest friends and a confidant. He was with me in my leadership journey. He would always remind me to believe in myself when I didn’t and he would nudge me on what I can do when I thought I couldn’t. He was always there for me especially the times when things were not easy. I am proud and blessed to have been part of Randy’s life. It’s so difficult to be happy now knowing I will never hear your voice again, Rands. But I will take comfort in the words you have told me on my 50th birthday – to always stay tough and sweet, like a tootsie roll. Rest in God’s light, Randy.”
“Randy has done so much for the industry- inspiring his colleagues not just with his strategic wisdom but with his positive approach in taking on difficult challenges,” notes Mio Chongson, president and Chief Operating Officer of Ace Saatchi & Saatchi. “He has mentored young entrants and made them appreciate the insights behind the creative work. As a friend, Randy has enriched my life, always encouraging me to capitalize on my strengths. I cherish every moment with him.”
“In the ad industry, Randy was every one’s kuya,” says Tonypet Sarmiento, Chief Creative at Screen+Surface. “A true leader who truly cared about people and purpose. His insights and pulse for consumers was as strong as his love for his agency circles. Like many, I was an employee, a fan, and am honored to call him friend. My wife Lizanne and I will miss him so much.”