Saturday, May 23, 2009

UFC Sarsarap... "...put your hands in the air..." ...and nutrition out the window!

The whole concept behind the economies of scale has always been a fact of life here in the Philippines. But some "product developers" (or mad scientists) at pseudo-ketchup mega-brand UFC have just insulted the Filipino middle class even further. (And the citizens don’t even know it yet.)

Introducing UFC Sarsarap Rice Buddy! The latest “product” from another semi-monopolistic conglomerate aimed at making a buck off hapless people, while helping push the rapid downward spiral of Filipino malnutrition even faster than ever.

"...But man… to peddle a product of such questionable value..."

As an ad guy for over a decade and a half, I can imagine the ultimate joke is that the cost of the tri-media ad campaign, the fees of a has-been celebrity endorser, the product development fees of the creative house, the “research and development” costs, and the production cost of the sachet packaging makes the cost of the actual product mere crumbs.

At P5.00 per sachet (suggested retail price), I’m guessing that a few milliliters of starch, sugar, MSG, breadings, flavoring powder, and of course water will chalk up less than a single Peso at the most. And I’m being generous there.

So the product exists mainly so we can see a poor cup of rice haplessly made to look like said has-been celebrity endorser singing a sad, sad tagline: “No more lonely rice.”

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"...so rich and delicious that people sometimes came by to buy only the sarsa..."

In the advertising universe not too long ago in an ethical galaxy now far, far away… there was a beloved product called “Mang Tomas Sarsa ng Litson.”

People may not know this, but legend has it (according to my yaya, when I was a child) that there really WAS a Mang Tomas lechon store in Metro Manila. And the legend further states that their “sarsa” (or liver gravy, for non-Filipinos who may be reading this) was so rich and delicious that people sometimes came by to buy only the sarsa.

Fast forward to the present. The lechon store is no more (was it ever?), but the bottled sauce lives on. People have made “Mang Tomas” a staple in the cupboard. Used with or without lechon. Now the concept of using anything one can find in the cupboard to top off some rice, whether it be with some soy sauce, or a pinch of salt, a bit of bagoong, a spot of banana “ketchup,” or (horrors) Mang Tomas, is a common practice in every Filipino home. In my “growing years” (which didn’t do me much height-wise), I have wolfed down up to five cups of rice matched up against a single tablespoon of bagoong (again, shrimp paste, for non-Pinoy readers).

At one point, Mang Tomas “Sarsa ng Litson” was relaunched into “All-Around Sarsa” with an amusing ad campaign that featured local band, Parokya ni Edgar. One of the most memorable moments of that ad was when Mang Tomas was used (horrors, in public view!) to top off rice as a viand substitute, and even as a bread spread (again, horrors!).

But see, while some people found it demeaning, it was being done. And at the very least, it was presented merely as an “alternative use.” It’s pretty common to find a bottle of Mang Tomas in very other Filipino home. What the residents do with their sauce is none of anybody’s else business.

But man… to peddle a product of such questionable value to capitalize on a people trying to scrimp and save in every possible aspect, and render them even more malnourished than ever… a whole new level, man… if they used the money to produce the Sarsarap monstrosity and diverted it into a rural feeding program, they can probably cover a few hundred barangays.

I have been told that Sarsarap isn’t doing too well in the stores. I hope it falls sooner than expected. Because while I believe that Pinoys really are hanging on to every Peso like crazy, they still have enough self-respect to not want to be caught dead with a “product” that is pretty much little more than an added insult to a nation’s already deep injury.

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‘catch you later…

12 comments:

DrStirringRhod said...

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DR. STIRRING RHOD
http://docmuzic.blogspot.com/

black cat said...

I understand where you're coming from, though I see it in a totally different way. Besides being a testament to how poor Filipinos are (imagine having to resort to buying sarsa because you can't afford the real thing), this product also gives people a wider selection of food they can afford. Nutritional concern is for those that can afford it, and unhealthy food such as this together with instant noodles are some of the few things that most Filipinos can afford to eat.

But if its not doing well, then it probably doesn't taste good? Now I'm tempted to try it :)

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

Hello, Black Cat... Thanks for dropping by. Give me your opinion about the product's taste if you have the time...
Hope to hear from you again!

Robin Smith Benitez said...

IMO, the reason why it doesn't sell well is because people are doubtful if the product would taste good. Well, it doesn't taste good, since there's no repeat purchase going on...a reason why the campaign's kinda persistent and aggressive.

Mang Tomas and Sarsarap is owned by the same family (Camposes), they want the consumers to consume more of their products so they market condiments as ulam na.

I would try Sarsarap if it has REAL meat and vegetables in it - just like those retort curry and donburi pouches in Japan.

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

Hi, Robin!
I personally couldn't even stomach looking at the product visuals on rice. Instead of selling crap like this to people, how about the government do something about the cost of basic goods like food, instead of spending their money on political campaign ads?
Thanks for dropping by!

Anonymous said...

Hi.

Have actually reaserched about it and it contains real meat which were actually dehydrated and pulverized. This is better instead of using just soy sauce , or used oil, or coffee or even softdrinks, which most of the Filipinos use to flavor their rice, which most of us may not know. And this is a reality...

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's fair to say bad things about something we are not sure of and people we don't even know. Maybe, the reason we feel it is an unaccpetable product is because we are well-off, that's why we can afford to do surfing the net and creating blogs like this, buy japanese food.. etc.. If we happen to see the real world outside, and step out of the internet houses and airconditioned offices, then we might think the other way.

let's ask ourselves, what are we doing to help the nation raise from deep poverty? criticizing what other feels they are doing good for the poor filipino? come on! we can do better than that!

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

Hello, Anonymous... (yes, both of you, particularly the second guy/gal)...

I like the subtle jabs at my supposed affluence, which is grossly exagerated. However, I can say for certain that I am very familiar with the product concerned since we own a supermarket, and have the product demonstrated and/or sampled to us by the sales agents.

I am quite familiar with the real world. Again, however, I suppose I must say for the record that whatever I say is not a personal attack in any measure. My apologies if you are in any way connected to the people behind the product. Mine are only opinions, and truly subject to both taste, as well as personal interpretations.

Thanks for dropping by.

black cat said...

mr/ms anonymous 8:05PM, I quote from you: "I don't think it's fair to say bad things about something we are not sure of and people we don't even know" also, are you doing anything to help the nation rise from deep poverty? (Im not and I wont insinuate that im doing anything.)Unless youre some missionary that has denounced all earthly luxuries, lets avoid the hypocritical BS about helping the poor. For the Sarsarap product,it never was and will never be about about helping the poor. They developed a product that targets the poor. period.

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

Hey, 'Cat...
Good to find in these parts again...

Rigor Mortis said...

well , you are a konyotikk faggot so you'll never understand what this is for.

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

Oops! Correction on an above statement...
Mang Tomas Lechon (the store) really did (and still does) exist. My apologies.
Details on the link below...
http://dennisvillegas.blogspot.com/2009/05/mang-tomas-pioneer-philippine-lechonero.html