Herbert Hernandez: The Manila Rock Star and Advertising Executive Behind GIGIL

Herbert Hernandez
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Herbert Hernandez is a man of many talents. He is a successful rock star, lead guitarist, songwriter, and advertising executive. Born in the Philippines, Hernandez was first guided towards music by his older brother, Darwin, who taught him to play guitar in high school. Hernandez became proficient at the instrument, but still prioritized his studies, eventually earning his degree in Fine Arts with a Major in Advertising from the University of Santo Tomas. During his university years, Hernandez founded his first band, Moonstar88, which has since become one of the most well-known alternative rock bands in the Philippines.

A Rock Star and Advertising Executive in Manila
Since 1999, Hernandez has toured with Moonstar88 as their lead guitarist, and in 2002, he added “songwriter” to his resume. His songwriting abilities have been formally recognized by the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (FILSCAP). Hernandez’s musical talents are so impressive that he also tours and writes songs with the established band 6cyclemind as their lead guitarist.

Hernandez’s success in music is only one part of his story. After graduating from university, he landed his first advertising job with J. Walter Thompson (JWT) Manila, a major agency. His talent for the visual elements of advertising campaigns quickly earned him recognition, and he began receiving promotions. He moved on to DM9, and later Young & Rubicam, where he worked under one of his idols, Badong Abesamis. The two found that their skill sets were complementary, and together, they created award-winning campaigns that were both commercially successful and critically acclaimed.

The Birth of GIGIL
It was during his tenure at Young & Rubicam that Hernandez and Abesamis decided to leave the corporate world and form their own agency, GIGIL. In its short life, GIGIL has accomplished incredible feats, earning recognition in the form of dozens of awards, including APAC Effies Awards 2020, 2021, 2022; Cannes Lions 2021, 2022; and Ad Age International Small Agency of the Year 2021

Herbert Hernandez and Badong Abesamis have different strengths, which they utilize for GIGIL’s benefit, allowing them to create things they can be proud of. Hernandez believes that the key to GIGIL’s success is the culture they have built that assures everyone that it’s okay to make mistakes.

The independent agency is now one of the most successful in the Philippines, with a solid track record that attracts clients seeking unique and newsworthy campaigns. Hernandez considers himself lucky to be pursuing one of his greatest passions, collaborating with a talented partner, and working with a hand-picked staff.

GIGIL is a testament to what can be achieved when experienced professionals with a shared vision and complementary skill sets come together. The agency’s rapid success and many accolades are a testament to the founders’ expertise and the dedication of their team. Their willingness to take risks and “just be themselves” in launching GIGIL has clearly paid off, as the agency has made a name for itself in a highly competitive industry.

One of the most impressive aspects of GIGIL’s success is the culture that Hernandez and Abesamis have cultivated. By creating an environment in which everyone’s contributions are valued and mistakes are seen as learning opportunities, the agency has been able to attract top talent and produce exceptional work. This approach has allowed GIGIL to not only excel in Philippine advertising but also to create a supportive community within the agency.

Looking forward, it’s clear that Hernandez and Abesamis have big plans for GIGIL. They are focused on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and attracting bigger clients. It’s also encouraging to see that they are prioritizing kindness in their hiring process, recognizing that a positive work culture is essential to maintaining the agency’s success. With Hernandez’s creative vision and Abesamis’s writing skills, there’s no doubt that GIGIL will continue to make waves in the advertising industry for years to come.

Personal Life is a Priority for Herbert Hernandez
Hernandez’s success in music and advertising would be impressive enough, but he also manages to prioritize his personal life. Married since their mid-twenties, Hernandez and his wife have three children. Investing in his family is a top priority for the busy Hernandez, who makes time for date nights, lunches and dinners at home, and even playing video games together. He invites them to visit the office whenever work allows, so they can see what he does when they are apart. Although his schedule is packed, his family is never last on the list; instead, they are incorporated into every possible moment.

Creating success in multiple areas requires sacrifice, and Hernandez is no stranger to trade-offs. He often sleeps only four hours and relies heavily on coffee to stay focused and energized. His days are regimented and require adherence to a strict schedule in order to fit everything in. But for Hernandez, the hard work and dedication are worth it. He lives out his every dream, pursuing his passions, collaborating with talented people, and building a fulfilling personal life with his family.

Herbert Hernandez is a talented musician, advertising executive, and family man who has achieved success in all areas of his life in Manila. His passion, hard work, calculated risk-taking, and faith in God have all played a role in his success. Hernandez’s story is a testament to the idea that success is achievable with the right mindset and determination.


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