VillanuevaAPRIL 1999. It had been almost a year since Genio Graphics started business but the advertising agency still did not have a client other than the previous company of its co-founder, Anthony Villanueva.

But Villanueva, a 1990 graduate of Advertising Arts at UST, was not worried.

When a Sun Life Financial representative came through the agency’s doors that month to have his company’s magazine conceptualized, a whole new market finally discovered the outstanding personalized services offered by Genio.

Now, Sun Life is just one of the many companies which owe their attention-grabbing advertisements to Villanueva’s agency.

The 39-year-old believes that he has his Thomasian roots to thank for the success of his company.

“It’s in the basic creative and technical training that the [then] College of Architecture and Fine Arts (Cafa) had developed had made me competent,” Villanueva told the Varsitarian.

Villanueva said the Cafa’s curriculum balanced the creative and the practical aspects of advertising.

“I did not regret that I chose UST,” he said.

Living a busy college life, Villanueva doubled as his section’s class president and as a Junior apprentice in his professor’s advertising agency, Resource Ads, during his third year.

His experience in Resource Ads helped him organize projects and seminars for the UST Advertising Society, which he co-founded in 1988.

Even with an overachieving college life, Villanueva found himself in trouble on his graduation year.

“My Workshop (thesis subject) professor flunked me because of technical problems on my thesis,” Villanueva said. He had to repeat the subject and thus only completed his studies in 1991.

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But, the one-year delay did not faze the diligent Villanueva.

In 1990, he joined a new marketing consultancy firm, Icon Communications, where he realized that he really was more interested in designing than in advertising.

“Back then, the two disciplines were not as well-defined as it is today,” he explained. In Icon, Villanueva took interest in making corporate identities such as logos and brandings, marketing requirements such as slogans and booth designs, and corporate communications such as in-house magazines.

Two years later, he was promoted as art director, which formally made him the officer in charge of the company’s graphic design projects.

On his own

Although he enjoyed being the top Icon artist, Villanueva felt that his job limited his potentials.

His colleague, Annie Pura, shared his sentiments. Together, they resigned from Icon in 1998 to form their own advertising agency—Genio Graphics.
Like any starting business, Genio encountered bumps along the way.

“We shelled in P20,000 each for the capital—and already P19,000 of that went into buying our company printer,” said Villanueva, who multi-tasked as the agency’s account manager and art director in the early days.

Business itself was even more difficult for the very young company, with its first projects only subcontracted by ICON.

“In exchange for our services, they would let us use their computers,” Villanueva said. “We were also paid in what seemed more like allowances than salaries.”

Everything changed the next year when Joel Rivera, a supervisor for Sun Life and Villanueva’s former advertising classmate, hired Genio to produce the marketing materials and the magazine of the financial services company.

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Since then, Sun Life has been a major client.

Genio’s designs include the branch murals of the Chinatrust Bank, exhibit and tradeshow booths of Mega Packaging, Inc., Roll-On-Roll-Off shipping supplement of the Department of Transportation and Communications, logo of the Exceed LPG Autogas, and annual report magazines of the Science Education Institute and GMA-7.

“We are now finishing the presentation of the business development company NineDots for Conex 2008, a convention exhibit of Philippine architects,” he said.

Villanueva has lately taken a break from the drawing board. He is now Genio’s managing director, in charge of dealing with their clients.

Meanwhile, his partner, Pura, has taken on the designing aspects.

From a two-man agency with P40,000 capitalization, Genio has grown into an P11 million firm in just nine years.

“I would not say it is my success,” Villanueva said. “It’s the accomplishment of God through us.”

With the agency now financially secure, Villanueva said he sees Genio heading straight to the top.

“It is almost an unofficial trend now that most of the big art directors in the country are UST graduates,” he said. “With that said, I am certainly proud of being a Thomasian in this industry.”

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