Giancarlo, age 40, was born in Quezon City and raised by his parents, Nilo and Tessie Pacheco, in San Jose and San Francisco. He now lives in Southern California with his wife, Lillian Chang Pacheco. While finishing his degree at San Francisco State University, he launched an events promotion company that catered to Asian Americans with over 500 events annually. This company formed the core business of Plan C Agency in 2005.
“Advertising became a product of events promotions,” Giancarlo said. “We had to develop campaigns targeting Asian Americans, using social media and guerilla marketing tactics.”
Destiny in a Name
Plan C is an acronym joining the last names of its original founders: Pacheco, Lomotan, Au, Nguyen and Choi. Giancarlo has guided Plan C Agency (PCA) toward diversifying its business. “PCA definitely specializes in event marketing,” he said. “However, we now service clients and specialize in creative, media buying, digital and social media.”
With today’s Asian Americans as tuned into all the channels of the digital universe as other mainstream consumers, the argument that they need advertising targeted specifically to them is debatable. For instance, a Chinese girl might find Chester Cheetah as endearing as the average Cheetos eater.
Advertisers that get bogged down by their doubts risk missing out on an opportunity with powerful metrics. Giancarlo’s sales pitch goes like this: “There are over 15 million Asian Americans in the country. The Asian American market is very diverse; 75 percent of Asians in the United States are born in an Asian country and speak a language other than English; one-third do not speak English very well.”
Through the years, marquee clients have put their faith in Plan C, including Verizon, Gilead Life Sciences, Pernod Ricard USA, Jollibee Food Corporation, AARP, City National Bank, Philippines Airlines and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Their business has led Plan C to add a New York office.
“Social Media is huge especially when it comes to event marketing,” related Giancarlo, a former executive with Pitney Bowes and AT&T. “PCA uses event marketing as a primary method to reach millennials, who are heavy when it comes to social media.”
Helping the Community
Pro bono clients have benefited from the agency’s growth. Plan C supports the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Filipino Leadership in Network, Filipino American Arts and Culture (FPAC/FilAm Arts) and Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA). Giancarlo sits on the Board of the Asian Advertising Federation.
As a businessman who does charity work, Giancarlo understands the criticism that advertising fuels rampant consumerism and other materialistic behavior that polarize society into the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor. In defense of personal choice, he stated, “America is about capitalism and consumption. It’s not the responsibility of the ad professional to curb this appetite. It’s up to individuals to determine what is too much, which many already do.”
Stretching the bright side, as technologies allow more laser-targeted advertising, more groups may eventually become isolated, enjoying more exclusive interaction among their own kind. Any refinement that permits people to find their niche is to be encouraged. When these consumers separate into their own worlds within the digital constellation, the leftover communities will have wide spaces, like parks, supermarkets, malls and churches, for human contact. In this respect, targeted advertising can make the world a friendlier place for the social and the unsocial.
“Millennials have been connected all their lives and are willing to share their information to marketers to get more targeted ads,” Giancarlo observed.
Advertising has come a long way since the white chauvinism of the “Mad Men” era. Regardless of his industry’s future direction, Giancarlo Pacheco will never abandon his Asian family. “My Filipino heritage is basically why I do what I do,” he remarked. “My events promotion company first catered to Filipino Americans before eventually growing into a Pan Asian audience. I want to be a role model to other young Filipino Americans.”
Anthony Maddela works for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. He and wife, Susan, have two children – Charlotte, age 12, and Gregory, 10.
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