Gunjan Prasad
May 4, 2023

Industry Craft Lions jury president values 'emotion over function, dreams over efficiency' in judging best work

CANNES LIONS JURY PRESIDENT Q&A: Dentsu Japan's Yoshihiro Yagi breaks down his process, insights and sensibilities on selecting the best work.

Yoshihiro Yagi, Dentsu Japan
Yoshihiro Yagi, Dentsu Japan

An accomplished creative with a forte in artistic expression, Yoshihiro Yagi is a veteran of sorts in playing jury. One of Japan's most internationally awarded creatives, he was a two-time judge at Cannes in 2012 and 2017 and part of the jury at various festivals, including D&AD, Clio Awards, Adfest and Spikes Asia.

 As the Industry Craft Lions jury this year, Yagi will use his eye for simplicity and his deep understanding of the principles of good design to judge the uniqueness of creative vision and finesse in execution in this category. Ahead of the Festival, Campaign sat down with Yagi to understand the different aesthetics which make for a winning work. 

What’s the most exciting aspect of being on the jury at this year’s Cannes in the Industry Craft Lions category?

People feel pleasure when they see beautiful things. How many people can achieve this state of mind? I believe that this is the true measure of progress and prosperity in our society. 

In order to support an economy in which humanity and cultures thrive, I hope to look for work by brands that make each of our lives brighter and more beautiful. Cannes Lions is the place to share such endeavours with the world. 

How would you define the industry craft category? Has the pandemic changed it in any way?

It is the most exciting place for business and art to meet. Craft has a significant impact on moving people's hearts and minds, because it greatly influences perception. It is the final textural point between the brand and the consumer on the contact surface. We will look into how the brand's vision and its voice are expressed in the final output.  

Most companies and brands are created out of an urge to do something about problems that can't be overlooked. For example, Panasonic was born from the founder's desire to bring the power of electricity to every home after seeing a train running in the city. Honda was started from an inspiration the founder had when he thought it would be easier for his wife to go shopping if bicycles had motors. 

This is the same as an artist who is not painting for self-satisfaction but is trying to present a problem to the world in their own way. While finding and solving problems in society is a business, I think it’s also an art. It should be very beautiful and fun. Great craftsmanship can give shape to the very human impulse of the brand. It should synchronise the brand's economic activities with genuine social enrichment and bring about harmony. 

What, according to you, would be the criteria of finding “the best work in the world” in your category?

In addition to the technical qualities of the craft, whether the brand is following its own ethics and working on what it really wants to do as an artist. And do people really choose it as a brand they want to support, empathise with, and pay a certain price for it? 

The best craft work should strengthen the emotional connection between the brand and user with the brand’s voice and tone. When these things are done at a deeper level, I think it is very beautiful. Enrichment over convenience. Emotion over function. Dreams over efficiency. 

Size and scale are important factors, but I also hope to look for values that are rooted in humanity and should be passed on to the future. To do so, I will need massive help from my fellow jury members with all their insights, intelligence, and sensibilities. 

Share some campaigns that have been landmark examples attesting to the creative mettle of industry craft at Cannes so far.

Craft that utilizes animation and music to bring people together once again with the fundamental value of water, which is irreplaceable for human beings, and the brand's love for it. Look at the multi-awarded Evian Water Boy Commercial above for inspiration.

The NTT DoCoMo Xylophone is one of those passed-along films that can stop people in their tracks. The campaign is a video of a cell phone product using thinned wood, but it utilises a sound design that makes you want to keep listening. It speaks more about the brand's love for forests and trees than the product's design and specifications. It’s a project that captivates you at once. 

(The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.)

Campaign Asia

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