David Blecken
Dec 19, 2017

5 of the best pieces of work from Japan in 2017

Clarity of purpose, utility and entertainment set these campaigns apart

Yahoo Japan's initiative for blind voters was an important step towards improving the entire electoral process
Yahoo Japan's initiative for blind voters was an important step towards improving the entire electoral process

In the simplest terms, our belief is that any creative work for brands should either be useful or entertaining. Preferably both. If it isn’t either, we urge the people behind it to seriously think twice before foisting it on the public.

Following are five examples of work that stood out from the past 12 months. Readers might disagree, and that’s fine. We have selected these pieces purely from the work we have covered, because they fit with the philosophy outlined above.

1. Yahoo Japan’s website for blind people

This initiative was a great example of a big brand using its power to actually make things better for people. It was a mammoth task for Dentsu, but something we hope will have lasting significance and encourage all communicators to give extra consideration to their audiences.

2. Toyota’s car rental café

Toyota appears to be one of very few carmakers to openly acknowledge that many people just don't want to own cars these days. Of course, it still wants to sell cars. But this rental service, developed by Inamoto & Co in Nagoya, is an example of a brand thinking from the customer’s perspective rather than its own and giving people an incentive to spend time with its products even if they don’t plan on buying them.

3. adidas’s ‘Green Light Run’

Adidas has a history of advising running enthusiasts on how to run better. This idea by TBWA Hakuhodo took things further by using technology to facilitate a safer, more enjoyable running experience through Tokyo. It was a standalone initiative, but we see lots of potential for this kind of utility-based work in future.

4. Double A’s paper extravaganza

As we said, if you’re not going to be useful, be entertaining. This collaboration with OK Go definitely was. Admittedly, it did use up a lot of paper. But at least they recycled it.

5. Diesel's interpretation of walls

This stood out as an example of how to localise a global branding campaign. The work tapped into changing social dynamics in Japan in a fun and interesting way while remaining true to the brand's ethos and irreverant tone.

Bonus: Yoox’s self-destructing deals

Work that advertises deals is usually dull. This idea by Google (not unique to but inclusive of Japan) was anything but. The idea of having just 15-seconds to ‘save an item from destruction’ by buying it injected new life into the process of online shopping and managed to combine branding and business perfectly.

Campaign Japan

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