Chris Lopez For Christina Lopez, her 25 years in media may look like a long and winding road across different creative fields that do not seemingly connect. However, if you look closely, you will see rich experiences in different creative industries that contribute greatly to her ability to do multi-platform functions in her current role as Metro Group Head of the ABS-CBN Lifestyle Ecosystem or LES.
After graduating with a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) Advertising degree from the University of San Francisco in 1992, Lopez worked as a production assistant on the film “Murder in the First” by Le Studio Canal Plus. It was a memorable first job on the movie starring Academy Award winner Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon and Christian Slater.
This was one of the most physically demanding jobs she ever worked on—16 hours a day as a production assistant entailed everything from manning the 20-line phones, driving the producers around and cleaning the men’s restroom once when the janitors did not show up. There were great times, too—like being the only Asian and the only woman picked to join the first assistant director’s team during principal photography.
Moving back to Manila in 1995, she worked for three publishing groups, three advertising companies and a multinational cable company before joining ABS-CBN. She earned her spurs as copywriter (for Lintas Manila), group copy head (Hemisphere-Leo Burnett), freelance creative director (J. Walter Thompson), freelance writer (Design & Architecture Magazine), freelance writer and art director (in People Asia Magazine and in Eastgate Publishing) and as director for Marketing, Communications and On Air (MTV Philippines).
Synergized cable and print
She was with MTV Philippines when she was invited to head Integrated Marketing for ABS-CBN’s Cable Channels and Print Media Group (CCPMG) in March 2007.
“I reported directly to Monchet (Jose Ramon) Olives, who first presented the idea of a synergized cable and print business back in 2007,” Lopez recalls. At the time, Olives was ABSCBN senior vice president and head of CCPMG.
“In my first year, I worked predominantly with the existing marketing teams of CPI (Creative Programs Inc.) for the cable channels and API (ABSCBN Publishing Inc.) for print. It was a team of about 10 Marketing heads and officers. We eventually added more people and grew the team to about 15 to manage the marketing, promotions and events of seven cable channels and 17 print titles that were divided into four genres—female, male, youth and entertainment,” she adds.
Managing four teams
In 2008, she was also asked to head the creative teams of the seven cable channels and in 2011, she was assigned two more additional roles: Content head for Metro titles and head of Special Executions and Special Projects. So there was a time when she was concurrently managing four teams—Marketing, Creatives, Metro Editorial teams and Special Projects. In 2013, she was asked to leave the four departments to take on a new role as the Content and Editorial director for API.
Lopez culls some of the learnings she absorbed from her earlier assignments: “March Ventosa, head of Marketing for ABS-CBN in 2007, was my former boss in HemisphereLeo Burnett. He told me to be patient. ABS-CBN is a big company so sometimes trying to get something done is like trying to move an aircraft carrier. He also said ‘people will ultimately judge you by what they personally know about you.’ He said this to me when I made a call that was good for the brand but unpopular with some people. This was his way of telling me to have faith in people and their ability to make fair assessments about me in spite of whatever fake news may have been said out of anger.”
“Philip Cu-Unjieng, who was part of the sales team in CCPMG, was my former boss and editor at People Asia Magazine. ‘Don’t assume that when you send an email people will read it.’ I learned this the hard way. It is still best to talk to people directly. Best practical advice.
First on PH media scene
“In those early years of CCPMG, we were tasked with doing something new and pioneering with the merging of the print and cable businesses, a first on the local media scene. It was an exciting time, but also a challenging one. Like with introducing anything new to an organization, timing is critical and of course support from the top makes a big difference.”
Today, she works with some 50 people in Metro brands across all platforms: Metro, Metro Society, Metro Home, Metro Weddings, Metro. Style and the newly launched Metro Channel.
“This new setup is part of the organization’s mandate to align platforms across ecosystems and markets we serve. Our goal is to establish the Metro platforms as the authority on the best curated lifestyle content. We are set up this way to ensure that we provide the affluent female market with content that informs, inspires and transforms lives.”
Lopez considers herself fortunate to have found her passion early in life.
Sense of purpose
“I was 14 when I discovered what I wanted to take up in college or pursue as a career. It was always clear to me that I would be part of the creative industry and media. Although the journey that led me to where I am today was not a straight path, but a zigzag road that exposed me to film, advertising, publishing, cable and production, all these experiences that I have grown to love contribute greatly to what I do today as Metro Group head. Having this sense of purpose and the fulfillment of this creative need helps me be a better person overall. It helps me stay centered and focused on what should matter.”
She adds: “The Metro Group is a new chapter in a creative journey that has completely enriched my life. Creating with a bigger sense of purpose makes the experience all the more meaningful and worthwhile. I am grateful to my bosses, and to the people who encouraged me to go down this road, for making me part of a group that was primarily set up to enable, empower and inspire women to create and live their best lives now.”