Staff Reporters
Feb 1, 2023

40 Under 40 2022: Nobuhiro Arai, TBWA Hakuhodo

Given the length, breadth and depth of his work and his capabilities as a leader, it is surprising that Arai is not even 40.

40 Under 40 2022: Nobuhiro Arai, TBWA Hakuhodo
Proven leaders with path-breaking expertise 

Nobuhiro Arai

Senior creative director
TBWA Hakuhodo 

Nobuhiro Arai made his debut in the same year that the iPhone was first released in Japan. It seems almost fated, then, that his career in advertising has been built on disruptive ideas that are not limited to TBWA, but have raised the overall level of Japan's creative work.

In 2013, he developed an innovative delivery app for Domino's Pizza, which generated millions in revenue and pioneered the business growth through smartphones. This made him the youngest person ever to win Japan's Mobile Advertising Awards Grand Prix. In 2016, he teamed up with an artist called Lyrical School to produce ‘the world's first dedicated vertical music video’, making a song by an unknown artist go viral instantly—it garnered over a million views in only two weeks with zero media fees.

He showed the world the potential of mobile creativity with the ‘Giga Selfie’ project, which has collected numerous awards including Cannes Gold. Through his meticulous strategy, he made TikTok a major presence in Japan, helped Sony grab a sizeable chunk of the market share in the wireless earphone market, transformed Paidy, the first fintech in Japan into a unicorn company, and ran a highly successful campaign ‘ProPILOT Mops’ at the NBA Japan Games sponsored by Nissan this year.

In a career spanning 13 years, he has received over 150 domestic and international awards, including Clio, Adfest, and Adstar Grand Prix. Arai is also the agency’s go-to person to lead pitches they cannot afford to lose. He has gone undefeated in the last two years and has brought in Sony, Paidy, S.Ride, Koala mattress, and the mobile game Mixi Monster Strike under the agency’s umbrella.

Arai is passionate about nurturing future leaders and spares no effort in sharing his experience and skills with the industry as a whole. He teaches how to disrupt businesses beyond advertising at the Disruption School designed by TBWA Hakuhodo and the creative industry magazine Sendenkaigi.

At home, he led his team members, Takumi Sekiya and Atsushi Tokuoka, to win the JAAA Creator of the Year and to be a Japanese representative for Cannes Young Lion respectively.

He is committed to creating a comfortable workplace for working mothers, and recently brought in a ‘no-meetings after 6pm’ rule for his team. Arai's emphasis and understanding of work-life balance comes in large part from the fact that he himself became a father last year.

Proven leaders with path-breaking expertise 


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