MANILA: Emily Abrera has retired as chairman of McCann-Erickson Philippines, and has been succeeded by the agency's chief executive officer, Patricia Arches.
Abrera joined McCann Erickson in 1978 as creative group head. Her rise was meteoric, establishing her as one of the country's finest creatives. With the combined force of Abrera and her predecessors Don Dillon and Ray Dempsey, McCann was catapulted to the number one spot in 1987 by winning the San Miguel Beer account.
McCann has remained at the top since then. It continues to handle San Miguel, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Globe Telecom.
Abrera became the first Filipino president of the Manila office, as well as the first Filipino woman president of a multinational ad agency. Her ascension to the McCann presidency in 1992 coincided with the Philippine constitution mandating the nationalisation of agencies. She said her legacy was in having turned the agency into "a soft-hearted giant", a big business with a human face. She also mobilised McCann's clout for public service campaigns, tackling issues such as women's and children's rights, to the environment and voter enlightenment. Abrera has accepted the chairman emeritus role and she will help set up McCann's brand consultancy.