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Being a rockstar is a full-time job. As Herbert Hernandez can attest, there’s a lot of travel involved, as well as late nights playing gigs, time in the studio recording, and writing songs. Add in promotional events, maintaining a cyber-presence for your fans, and rehearsals, and there’s not a lot of time for other pursuits. Unless you’re Hernandez.

The multi-talented Filipino musician and songwriter has played lead guitar for 6cyclemind, a pop/alternative rock band with a national following, since 2010. Incredibly, he pulls the same duties for the band he founded a decade earlier, Moonstar88. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he maintains a second full-time career as a Founder and Advertising Executive of the internationally-acclaimed agency GIGIL. 

Who is Herbert Hernandez?

Herbert Hernandez considers himself lucky that he grew up before the cyber-age, at a time when screens didn’t distract him from pursuing his many talents. He excelled in visual art from a young age, and always had an interest in music and even movies. Growing up in a successful family with an insurance sales agent mother and a mechanical engineer father, many opportunities were open to Hernandez.

A musically-inclined older brother, Darwin, was an early influence on Herbert. In high school, he taught Herbert how to play guitar and became his manager. Darwin has gone on to found Soupstar Entertainment, a music and events management and production group that manages Filipino bands Imago, Sandwich, Pedicab, Moonstar88, and 6cyclemind. Darwin is also a talented songwriter and can take credit for putting bands together - like 6cyclemind.

But even with his natural talent as a musician and the almost-immediate success of Moonstar88 upon its founding, Herbert wasn’t convinced that music was his life’s work. His college degree is in Fine Arts with a major in Advertising, and he has pursued visual arts since graduating. Although he started out with freelance graphic design work, creating album covers for several bands, it wasn’t long before the corporate advertising world took notice.

Ultimately, Hernandez’s advertising success would (debatably) eclipse his musical success - but he has worked hard to maintain both, finding personal fulfillment in doing so.

Herbert Hernandez’s Rise to Fame As a Popular Musician

In 1999, Herbert Hernandez founded Moonstar88 and over the last two decades has achieved incredible success with the band. They released albums in 2000, 2002, 2007, 2011, and 2012. For the first few years, Hernandez stuck to lead guitar. But in 2002, he pitched an idea for a song that their lead singer suggested he write and compose. That first song he wrote ended up being “Sulat," which became one of the most-played OPM songs on the radio, YouTube, Spotify, in open mikes, and at karaoke. Now, he has written some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Migraine," which has been streamed more than 94 million times.

In 2010, Hernandez joined 6cyclemind, which had already enjoyed years of mainstream success but was going through some lineup changes. With Darwin as their manager, Herbert was a natural choice to jump in on lead guitar. Since Herbert came on board, 6cyclemind released one album in 2012.

In addition to touring with both bands, Hernandez has been tapped as a top songwriter in the Philippines. In 2019, he was selected as one of the first-ever Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (FILSCAP) Master Campers. The honor meant that he joined other carefully selected composers for four days of musical collaboration at the inaugural camp. The composers, all from different genres and with different songwriting styles, worked together to produce demos with the help of industry arrangers and song interpreters.

And as if Herbert Hernandez wasn’t busy enough with music and advertising, he has found another way to merge his two careers since 2010: Hernandez started Lakihan Mo Logo (“Make the Logo Bigger"), which he calls “a commercial break for people making commercials." Lakihan Mo Logo is a concert series featuring bands made up of Manila-based ad agency talent, giving ad people an outlet for their stress. They have performed 58 concerts over the last 12 years, and some of the participants have been signed as actual recording artists. Hernandez also put together 12 “Rockovery" concerts to raise money to cover the medical bills of seriously ill members of the advertising industry.

How Hernandez's Digital Ad Agency Develops Creative for Cyberspace

For almost as long as Herbert Hernandez has enjoyed success as a musician, he has been equally appreciated and recognized as a talented advertising executive. He took his first full-time ad job with J. Walter Thompson (JWT) Manila in 2003, as a visualizer/designer, doing brochures and packaging designs.

Within a few months, he had been promoted to Art Director, and the promotions would keep on coming for Hernandez, who now laments that he was too focused on moving up the corporate ladder to take adequate risks early in his career. 

After three years at JWT, Hernandez moved on to a newly formed agency, DM9 JaymeSyfu DDB. During his six years at DM9 JaymeSyfu DDB, Hernandez moved up from Senior Art Director to Creative Director. It was during his time at DM9 JaymeSyfu DDB that Hernandez began receiving awards for his work, including a silver for outdoor at the 2010 Cannes Lions Festival for Mini Cooper's “Roller Coaster" poster, and a bronze for outdoor at the 2011 Cannes Lions Festival for the Department of Tourism of the Philippines. His projects also won awards at Spikes Asia, the Clios, Philippine Creative Guild, Ad Congress Araw Awards, and the Tinta Awards, among others.

Hernandez then spent more than five years at Young & Rubicam, beginning in 2012. Hired as Creative Director under Executive Creative Director Badong Abesamis, in a couple of years, Hernandez became one of the firm's youngest Executive Creative Directors. He and Abesamis found that their complementary skill sets - Abesamis specializes in writing, Hernandez in visuals - were an ideal match.

The awards kept coming for Hernandez’s work, Spikes Asia, the Clios, Asia Pacific Advertising Festival, Cannes Lions, and Ad Stars.

In 2017, Abesamis and Hernandez decided to strike out on their own, and GIGIL was born. Their client list boasts some of the biggest companies in the world, and the young agency has been inundated with awards. Their secret? Passion and hard work are more important than raw talent.

In order to create the kind of innovative, shareable material that “goes viral" (a.k.a free advertising) and that they’re known for, GIGIL staffers start with the goal of the client and what’s getting in the way of that goal. Each client’s problem is unique, so the solution they design is unique, too. Only then do they consider if their idea is good for the brand.

Ideas presented by GIGIL often “beg to be talked about," which lets Hernandez and Abesamis know they’re doing their jobs. They believe that ideas and brands should be talked about in order to move culture, which in turn moves people, and most importantly, moves products. Their work creates more compelling reasons to buy products. Their calculated risk-taking brings in big results for clients who are seeking to stand out from the crowd.

What is Next for Hebert Hernandez?

Herbert Hernandez’s daily schedule is packed with GIGIL meetings and presentations, Moonstar88 and 6cyclemind performances, and time with family. But he still has big plans for the future, including expanding GIGIL’s offices into other countries, while bringing Filipino talent into the global spotlight. After accomplishing that, he’s hopeful that retirement will be within the next 15 years….

Although it’s hard to picture this overachiever slowing down anytime soon.

Disclaimer: This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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