Jessica Goodfellow
Feb 23, 2021

'Extinction date' packaging design wins gold at Young Spikes integrated competition

Creative duo behind sustainability proposal discuss their creative process and what they've learnt from four years of Young Spikes competitions.

'Extinction date' packaging design wins gold at Young Spikes integrated competition

A Japanese creative duo from Dentsu and Recruit have won gold in the Young Spikes 2021 integrated competition in their fourth year entering the programme, for a bold design proposal that puts an 'extinction date' on the packaging of seafood products.

Shintaro Murakami, a creative technologist at Dentsu Inc, and Yuki Takahiko, the design director at Recruit, first teamed up to enter Young Spikes in 2017. The annual competitions are aimed at creatives who are aged 30 or under, and provide an avenue to respond to a client brief with either a fully integrated campaign or a 60-second video ad.

Conservation International (CI)—a nonprofit that works to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods—provided this year's brief. It centred around overfishing and the impact on fishing communities and consumers. CI asked participants to create an integrated awareness and partnerships campaign, directed at corporate decision makers, to encourage businesses to partner with CI to increase the sustainability of seafood.

It was stiff competition this year as more than 360 teams participated in the 2021 integrated competition. After two rounds of submissions, a jury of four agency experts selected the following winners for their quality of work and approach to the subject.

Award Entry Title Team
Gold Extinction Date Shintaro Murakami, Yuki Takahiko
Silver Ocean Exchange Ernest Chin, Claudius Keng
Bronze Sea Change Amanda Thomsen, Lily Nielsen
Special commendation Fisherman - FeshMan Yoshitomo Matsumi, Masanari Kakamu
Special commendation Elite Fish Maria Shimizu, Mihiro Odake
Special commendation Fishing Net - Actual Size Phanisa Wangsuk, Arprakorn Jongjaipra

In an interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, gold winners Murakami and Takahiko discuss how they formulated their 'Extinction Date' proposal, what they learnt from the brief that they plan to apply to their day-to-day jobs, and why they keep returning to Young Spikes year after year.

The first port of call for Murakami and Takahiko was to focus on the target audience of the brief, which was corporate C-Level decision makers. Given the brief's overfishing focus, the duo decided to focus their attention on gaining the favour of food manufacturers specifically. They decided that the most critical problem for these businesses is that fish resource extinction leads to fish product extinction—and this issue for the spine of their proposal.

They came up with a simple yet effective idea that food manufacturers could implement to align themselves with sustainable seafood consumption: printing an 'extinction date' next to the expiration date of their products, highlighting to consumers that overfishing will ultimately lead their favourite seafood products to disappear from shelves.

The duo calculated the extinction dates of different kinds of fish, including yellowfin tuna (2036), anchovy (2034) and pacific cod (2041), using publicly available data from Japanese fishery agencies.

As well as asking food manufacturers to print the 'extinction date' on their packaging along with a description of the sustainability project, they proposed that participating companies would donate 1% of product sales to CI to support its conservation efforts. The launch of the packaging campaign would be supported by a bespoke website, and the team expected plenty of earned media as a result.

Following the initial launch, they proposed expanding the concept beyond the food manufacturing industry to display on 'expiration date' on everything related to the fishery resources, such as dishes in restaurants, packages for fast foods, windows in aquariums and content in games.

Beyond the brief, Murakami and Takahiko put significant effort into how they communicated and presented their proposal to the jury—a critical element to any client pitch. In fact, Murakami reveals he couldn't speak English before the competition. He says he spent more than 3,500 hours on online English courses since the beginnning of the programme in October 2020, and now speaks with confidence.

Furthermore, to inject some creativity into the final presentation to the jury, Murakami, who is a creative technologist, created an AR gimmick in which sushi spins around his head and is slowly crossed out, to represent the food that will become extinct if the world continues to overfish. He created the AR overlay in just one hour.

Shintaro Murakami (left) and Yuki Takahiko (right) speak to Campaign after discovering they have won at Young Spikes

Murakami and Takahiko believe their skills perfectly complement one another. Murakami comes from an engineering background and is a whip-smart technologist, while Takahiko specialises more in brand marketing, design and copywriting.

Their friendship has blossomed over the four years they have taken part in Young Spikes together, which they believe has complemented their work. "We naturally became friends and drank alcohol everyday," jokes Murakami.

The biggest thing they have learnt from past competitions is the value of simplicity.

"We found that our ideas tend to be complicated—it might be because we studied science courses at university and love complicated things," they say. "We have learned that simple ideas are strong from many ideas in Cannes Lions, Spikes Asia, and other competitions. So we tried to keep our idea as bold and straightforward as possible."

The programme has inspired them to "love idea creation more than ever", which they say they can apply to their day-to-day jobs. This seems especially important to Murakami, who says he used to be more technology-oriented rather than idea-oriented due to his technical background. "The Young Spikes competition experience made me more confident about creating ideas, and I found that the process of idea creation is interesting and exciting," he says.

Both Murakami and Takahiko, who has also worked at Dentsu in the past, say their companies encourage them to seek out competitions such as Young Spikes and Young Lions to "develop our ideas and creative thinking ability".

Now they've won gold, do they plan to defend the crown next year? "Yes of course!" the duo say. For now, they are looking forward to sharing a virtual drink to celebrate their triumph.

See all our Spikes Asia X Campaign coverage:

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