Advertising Pros Rally Behind Woman Sued for Cyberlibel by GIGIL Boss

Herbert Hernandez had taken the issue to court.
Photo/s: Campaign Asia

Dozens of advertising professionals rallied behind their colleague on Monday, after a cyberlibel case was filed against her by an executive of ad agency GIGIL, whom she accused of sexual harassment on social media.

Trade publication Campaign Asia reported that it had access to an "official criminal complaint" filed last Aug. 26 by GIGIL's Herbert Hernandez against Denise "Deng" Tee.

In her post dated August 12, the Wunderman Thompson Manila creative director said it took years of questionning herself to finally acknowledge that what Hernandez, a married man, had done to her in 2015 was discomforting.

While acknowledging a culture of silence that hounds women who come forward with their experiences against men from positions of power, Tee said apart from wanting a "sincere apology or acknowledgement" from him, she simply wanted to get it off her chest. 

Two weeks later, she got the cyberlibel complaint.

According to Campaign Asia, the complaint alleged that Tee commited the crime of libel when she made "defamatory statements or imputations" in her post that "became the talk of the town in the advertising industry".

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"The same are all malicious and false," the cited complaint said.

Dozens of support statements with the hashtag #IStandwithDeng flooded the Campaign Asia post on Facebook, as members of the advertising industry denounced the report for supposedly siding with Hernandez. 

"Public articles about offenders filing lawsuits do not only give them confidence but also takes away the courage of the victims*, who in this case are, already struggling to speak. As a reputable and authoritative voice in the industry, we expect a fair take on both sides (at the very least). Either that or just keep quiet Campaign Asia-Pacific," Miko Quiogue, a creative director from digital agency Dentsu Jayme Syfu, said in the comments section. 

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Others criticized Campaign Asia for how the story was written, as well as for timing. 

What went before

The firestorm started when Gigil released an ad for Belo Medical Group that went viral and angered the public as it harbored sentiments of body-shaming.

The ad was later taken down following huge backlash, but criticisms against the agency remained on social media.

Badong Abesamis, Gigil's other founding partner, confirmed in the Campaign Asia report that Hernandez went on leave from the agency following the fiasco. 

"To get to the truth, Herbert has brought the issue to the proper forum—the courts. Herbert hopes the filing of the cases will push people to responsibly use social media, so they don’t destroy other people’s reputations, businesses, and lives," Abesamis was quoted saying.

movement in support of women who come forward with experiences of being harassed has raised conversations against the men who commit transgressions in recent past. It also raised in criticism of industries that allow such cultures of silence to remain.

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