Early in my career, I worked for Dentsu here in Tokyo at its behemoth home base. Then, four years ago, after living and working in the States, Singapore and China, I had the opportunity to come back to lead the Ogilvy Japan office. And I must say, there's never a dull day. As anyone who has visited can tell you, Japan is a land of the quirky and innovative - and quite often at the same time. These five recent works reside at various points along the quirk spectrum, while all displaying design sensibilities we've come to love and respect...
Yamauchi No. 10 Family Office - WebsiteWebsite Design: Mount Inc.
First is a fresh take from Nintendo's founding family. While also a thinly-veiled tribute to Hiroshi Yamauchi (the founder's grandson who transformed the playing card company into the global game maker we know today), it serves as a corporate website
but with all the fun and pop of the gaming world.
Nissin Cup Noodle - '50th Anniversary Super Flavours'
Package Design: Nendo
The 'Grandaddy' of all cup noodles, Nissin, was celebrating its 50th birthday. To make a splash, it put its ear to the ground (which now means listening to social sentiment) and heard daydreamers fantasising about combining the flavours of their favourites. So, in an effort to give the people what they want, four 'super flavours
' were released, pairing carefully-selected combos from 28 originals. I highly recommend the chilli tomato mixed with curry!
The Nippon Foundation - 'The Tokyo Toilet'
Japan is well-known for its amazingly modern toilets, complete with upward spraying water streams at one's choice of velocity. Now, these toilets are hitting the streets, parks and other outdoor locations, but with even smarter designs and functions. One, designed by Pritzker-winning architect, Shigeru Ban, solves the problem of not knowing if it's occupied before entering by using see-through glass that turns opaque once you enter. Another, designed by TBWA\Hakuhodo CCO, Kazoo Sato, provides a pandemic-safe non-touch environment by having all functions operational through voice-command. Check them out here
Coincheck - 'Ncheck' and 'Graffiti'
Director: Takaaki Yamazaki
"Please remove that line 'When you're talking crypto-assets, it's Coincheck'. We can't see my face." "OK" *she drops off most of the text but leaves the bottom row* "No, no. That's not what I mean." "Now we can now see your face." "But now it just says 'ncheck'? What's 'ncheck'?" "OK." *visual note: the words come back on* "No. no, no. If you put them back, you can't recognise it's Shota Matsuda, right?"
"Please remove that line, 'When you're talking crypto-assets, it's Coincheck' You can't see my face." "OK. Oops this isn't..." *visual note: she accidentally reveals her doodling* "What's that?" "Sorry." "I'm not mad. Let me see it again. I won't be angry." "OK." "What's this?" *visual note: she shows it and other doodles* "This is also a good one." "That's one's not bad...wait, what're you doing!?" "Thought they were nice." "Oh, did you?"
Ok, this is weird - and difficult to comprehend as it's in Japanese - but stay with me. The client is a cryptocurrency exchange platform. And it's targeting the crypto-intimidated. So, they hired a really famous leading male actor named Shota Matsuda, but in the films, only a still
of him is seen, photographed by Japanese legend Kazumi Kurigami. So, there he is, motionless, and we hear his VO complaining to the supposed director (a young whispering female) about the words covering his beautiful face in the still. In one spot, upon request, she drops most of the words off his face. The written message changes from 'When you're talking crypto-assets, it's Coincheck' to simply 'ncheck', which he's no more satisfied with. In another spot, the young director adds an assortment of playful illustrations to his face. Just watch them
and use your imagination.
au by KDDI - 'Virtual Shibuya Halloween 2021'
Agency: Geometry Ogilvy Japan
Last year, KDDI introduced 'Shibuya Virtual Halloween', a virtual safe space for Halloween fun during the pandemic. But this past Halloween, with the city's infections dropping and restrictions loosening, the holiday was poised to return to Shibuya's physical streets. But hold on...this MetaCity was even more poised to take off. This year's virtual event had similar top-notch Japanese entertainment, but they added the 'Avatarium' which let visitors create look-alike avatars so you could recognise friends on the virtual streets and chat. There were even paid avatar city guides to show you around and tell you a joke. Also some pretty decent shopping. The Shibuya MetaCity may be here to stay...