TOKYO - Not everything in our final summary of Advertising Week Asia is earth-shatteringly original, but we think these are thoughts worth holding onto all the same. They include the case against homogeneity; how traditional companies can catch up; and why Japan needs to rethink marketing.
The best work comes from unlikely pairings
In a standout presentation (which will be covered separately), Shiseido CEO Masahiko Uotani spelled out the importance of diversity in building and sustaining a successful global brand—not just in terms of gender, but of nationality, background and age. Separately, Jimmy Smith, CEO and CCO of Amusement Park Entertainment, drew on his time at Wieden + Kennedy to make a similar point.
As a young black man, he initially resented being forced to work with a “jerk” like Hal Curtis, whom he took to be “the whitest dude on the planet”. But the coupling ultimately produced one of Nike’s most celebrated basketball ads, and the two become good friends.
“If you want to be the best, you can’t work together with someone who looks like you,” he said. “If your agency is all-white, it sucks. If your agency is all-black, it sucks. If your agency is all-Japanese, it sucks. The only way to take things to the next level is by working together.”
Japanese companies need to separate marketing and sales
Shiseido’s Uotani pointed to a major hurdle for Japanese companies looking to build global brands: only around 10 percent actually have CMOs, he said. Most tend to think of marketing as a purely tactical discipline to drive sales. “We have to change to be more strategic,” he said.
There is hope for dinosaurs
It’s easy to scoff at the efforts of establishment giants to operate more like startups, but the approach should be applauded if the company is serious about change. Mitsuru Takamatsu, president and CEO of Quantum, invited representatives from Japanese giants NTT and Fujitsu to explain how they are embedding a degree of startup culture into their organisations.
Both are supporting startups through competitions and funding as a marketing-led initiative to introduce new business models into their companies. It has not been easy: in NTT’s case, the only way to get the president to attend a hackathon was to dress it up as a golf tournament, but he was subsequently converted. But NTT was adamant about one thing: agencies that propose such initiatives need to be prepared to take a risk with the client to ensure sales. “Is creating a [TVC] sufficient? No. We don’t want anything to do with agencies that can’t provide this level of service,” he said.
In his own session, B. Bonin Bough of Mondelez went on to discuss how his company is working to become a media owner in its own right. The food giant created a game that hosts advertising (even from competitors), and customised cookie packaging that sells for three times the cost of the regular product and is expected to become a US$300 million business. “We just have to take the time to identify ideas and allow them to grow inside our organisations,” he said. “Big organisations like ours have the chance to make it happen.”
(Silent) video is the future of mobile
Citing Cisco data that says three quarters of the world’s mobile traffic will be video by 2020, Takeshi Oshima of Facebook said that brands need to take into account that people tend to watch those videos with the sound off. It’s also essential to make an impression in the first 10 seconds, given the speed at which people scroll through feeds on their mobile devices, he said—but according to Facebook research, just 23 percent of ads actually deliver a message that’s easy to understand, within that timeframe, with the sound off.