In a country fueled by heavy social media use like the Philippines, an authentic connection with one’s audience is a must. With this, celebrity endorsements have proven a most effective way for brands to make the most dynamic connections possible.

At the height of the pandemic, social media became everyone’s escape from reality. Many turned to K-Dramas and K-Pop music as sources of comfort—becoming the everyday trending topics on social media.

Yet despite COVID-19 closing cinemas and live events, one group thrived amidst all uncertainty: BTS. TIME’s Entertainer of the Year 2020 scored a handful of No. 1 hits, expanding their fan base from regional to global and reaching record heights.

“What made BTS the world’s no. 1 is their relatability,” said Demai Granali, founder of the BTS fan page ARMY Connect Philippines. “BTS managed to be the ‘shining light’ for their millions of fans, whom they felt were having a much harder time than them.”

Using social media as their medium to communicate with their fans known as ARMY, the 21st century pop icons were able to cement their status as the world’s biggest and most influential band in no time.


During the height of the lockdown in 2020, BTS captured the attention of telco giant Smart Communications Inc. (Smart).

Smart had been trying to tap the band for quite some time but couldn’t seem to find the right channel to do so.

So the brand turned to PUBLICITYASIA, the top PR agency in the Philippines known for its high-profile work in celebrity marketing and endorsement deals.

PUBLICITYASIA was tasked by Smart to do what has never been done before: secure BTS’ first commercial endorsement in the Philippines.

“We wanted to create an inspirational campaign that would resonate to the younger generation,” explained Jane Jimenez Basas, the former Head of Smart’s Consumer Wireless Business and now CEO/President of MediaQuest Holdings.

“Smart needed the right ambassadors who can help deliver the message; and we knew there was only one act capable of doing just that.”


“Negotiations took place for several months. BTS has become so big that at one point, we nearly lost the deal. But we kept pursuing. Never letting go of our passion to get the contract closed,” says Basas.

“Our agency PUBLICITYASIA was instrumental in closing the deal for Smart. They delivered the impossible.”

The campaign “Smart + BTS: Live Your Passion with Purpose” was announced on Jan. 18, 2021. It went on to become the biggest celebrity endorsement deal in the history of Philippine advertising – a feat that will be hard to beat in years to come.


Celebrity acquisition requires high-level, professional negotiation skills. With PUBLICITYASIA’s vast experience in dealing with the world’s biggest celebrities, the agency consistently manages to bridge the gap—making Filipino brands and fans experience the exclusivity and indispensable value of these
international stars bring to each campaign.

“A partnership with a world-renowned individual or group is the most impactful way to reach the brand’s target audience,” says Joyce A. Ramirez, Lead PR and Head of Celebrity Acquisition at PUBLICITYASIA.

Following the headline-grabbing news that Smart has sealed a partnership with BTS, the agency would go on to launch other high-profile celebrities for the brand, including Captain America star Chris Evans and fourth generation K-Pop idols TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT).


“I think what sets us apart is our expertise in connecting the world’s biggest stars to local brands,” said Ramirez.

Prior to BTS, the agency also closed One Direction’s first commercial gig at the peak of their global popularity back in 2012.

Ramirez continued: “We’re very fortunate to have closed brand endorsement deals with 2 of the biggest boy bands in modern pop history.”

“No other Philippine agency has pioneered and mastered celebrity acquisition, branding, and pairing the way we do it.”

For PUBLICITYASIA, it is always a matter of making the impossible, possible.

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Source: Manila Bulletin (