AOY Insights is a new content series celebrating some of the top wins from Campaign Asia-Pacific's Agency of the Year awards. Join us as we take a closer look at the entries that struck gold this year.
Category: Independent Agency of the Year – Japan/Korea
Key clients: Porsche, Mitsubishi FUSO, Skyn, Greenpeace, Red Bull, Beats by Dre, Tabasco, Salesforce
New clients this year: Duolingo, AMEX, NBA, HP, Cloudflare, Empire of Arkadia, Kodansha
’s mission is to become Asia’s leading independent creative agency network and after winning gold in 2021, it has made further progress on that ambition. USN represents the voice of millennial and Gen Z audiences, while supporting local creatives through its gallery in Harajuku.
With a finger on the pulse of millennials and Gen Z, USN understands how to reach them through digital, social media, influencers, and activations in line with this audience’s principles around gender and LGBTQ equality, sustainability, and humanitarian issues.
Some examples of this principle in work include the Harajuku-based agency promoting electric vehicles for Porsche; the world’s first all-electric truck with Mitsubishi FUSO; fighting carbon emissions with Greenpeace, and encouraging an open and transparent conversation about sex, sexuality, and contraception for Japanese condom brand Skyn.
The past few years have seen USN expand first into Singapore then Taiwan and most recently Sri Lanka, backed by an expanding digital development studio. USN believes it is only as good as its people and a focus over the last year was staff recruitment and retention, and reducing staff turnover. An in-house talent manager has pursued a strategy that has resulted in an increase in external talent acquisition, and a third straight year of reduced staff turnover — which is at its lowest figure yet.
Skyn and USN have worked together for six years, with the agency helping shatter taboos around advertising condoms. USN did this by positioning Skyn as a brand that helps couples stay together, changing brand perception and overcoming category barriers to the point where they are now able to buy media and have their pick of shoot locations.
USN took charge of Red Bull’s launch of ‘The Orange Edition’ in Japan, framing it around the theme of ‘Wings that shine with happiness.’ The launch culminated in four simultaneous events — in Sapporo, Shibuya, Umeda and Hakata — with popular illustrator Chalk Boy headlining a live performance at the main event in Osaka.
The UltraSuperNew Virtual NFT Gallery put art and creativity in the spotlight with a real-life exhibition of digital art in a space normally reserved for photography and contemporary art. The gallery can now be seen from anywhere in the world thanks to its 3D website and will be live at the end of this year. It offers curated NFTs as a response to the market for these digital assets becoming prone to opportunists focused on money over art.
Judges say: USN were praised for their “very clear vision and mission as a Gen Z and millenial-oriented agency” and the team’s ability to “engage with clients that are targeting millennials and Gen Z.” Judges also noted USN for its cultural relevance and willingness to push boundaries and deliver meaningful messages.