In 2001, Filipino alternative pop rock band 6cyclemind was formed and immediately gained mainstream exposure. In the 20+ years since then, the group has released five studio albums, gone through some lineup changes, and toured nationally in the Philippines. Although current lead guitarist Herbert Hernandez did not join the band until 2010, he has spent the last 12 years as an integral member of the popular group. And in addition to his performance duties with 6cyclemind, he also tours with his band Moonstar88 – and founded an award-winning advertising agency.
It’s fair to say that Hernandez is a busy guy – and maybe a little bit of an overachiever – but with so many God-given talents, can you blame him for putting them all to use? A well-known rock star and songwriter in the Philippines, it seems impossible that Hernandez is just as talented – or even more so – when it comes to executing advertising campaigns.
And yet, it’s true. In addition to his musical talents, Hernandez is an accomplished visual artist with creativity to spare. And even though Herbert Hernandez’s music career took off before he got his first big break in advertising, he has made room in his life to pursue both at a very high level.
How Did Music Lead to Herbert Hernandez’s Advertising Career?
From a very young age, Herbert Hernandez excelled at both fine arts and music; in high school, his older brother taught him how to play guitar and later became his manager. But when it came time to attend college, Hernandez honed in on a Fine Arts degree with a Major in Advertising – right as he launched his first band, Moonstar88.
Upon graduation, Hernandez did not immediately land an advertising gig. He continued to perform with Moonstar88 and started taking on freelance graphic design work creating album covers for several bands. Although his dual careers initially intertwined, it wouldn’t always be that way.
His graphic design work created enough of a portfolio to get hired at JWT Manila, and he began to climb the corporate ladder in the advertising world. After moving to a new agency, DM9 JaymeSyfu DDB, and receiving a major promotion to Creative Director, Herbert Hernandez felt that he might have to choose between music and advertising. At his day job, he was receiving praise and recognition, including some significant awards for his campaigns. He also had a young family to support.
Luckily, people encouraged him to keep at music as a creative outlet. It was right around this time that Hernandez joined 6cyclemind. Impressively, Hernandez had also found a new way to merge his love of music with his love of advertising. He started Lakihan Mo Logo (“Make the Logo Bigger”) in 2010, which is described as “a commercial break for people making commercials.” Lakihan Mo Logo is a concert series featuring bands made up of Manila-based ad agency talent, with the simple goal of giving ad people a way to relieve stress. They have performed 58 concerts over the years, and some of the participants have been signed as professional recording artists. Hernandez also put together 12 “Rockovery” concerts to raise money to cover the medical bills for seriously ill members of the advertising industry.
How did GIGIL come to be?
These days, GIGIL is well-known in the Filipino advertising world, with huge clients, dozens of international awards, and disruptive, viral campaigns. But five short years ago, GIGIL didn’t exist. Herbert Hernandez had moved on from DM9 JaymeSyfu DDB, and taken a job with Young & Rubicam, where he was promoted yet again, to Executive Creative Director. He was also working under one of his mentors, then-Chief Creative Officer, Badong Abesamis.
But when another advertising agency targeted either or both Abesamis and Hernandez for recruitment, the two executives realized it was time to make a big decision. They could continue on in the corporate world, or they could start their own independent agency and take full control of their careers. They chose the latter.
With Hernandez taking the lead on visual elements, and Abesamis a highly talented writer, their complementary skill sets were a perfect fit. GIGIL was born. The agency’s name, which can’t be directly translated into any other language, was suggested by Abesamis. It has a loose meaning of “the overwhelming feeling of wanting to squeeze something.” Playful and distinctly Filipino, GIGIL pushes the envelope and creates advertising campaigns that “beg to be talked about,” moving culture, and ultimately, moving products.
Although starting their own business meant an immediate pay cut while they got started, Hernandez was able to fall back on income earned while performing with his bands. Once again, music and advertising found a way to co-exist in Hernandez’s life, and even make new opportunities possible.
These days, Herbert Hernandez has the kind of packed schedule that makes many people cringe. He rises early and spends the day in meetings and client presentations for GIGIL, making time for lunch and dinner with his family. Many nights, he’s performing with either Moonstar88 or 6cyclemind. Thanks to coffee, very little sleep, and sheer passion for what he does, he continues to excel as a rock star, entrepreneur, and advertising creative.
Like most of the Philippines, we can’t wait to see what Herbert Hernandez takes on next.
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