David Blecken
Sep 11, 2015

Why arguments lead to the best work: Hakuhodo

SPIKES ASIA - In their session on Friday, creative directors from TBWA Hakuhodo and Hakuhodo Kettle wore the wetsuits from their larger-than-life recent campaign for Quiksilver in an effort to urge brands to to stun their audiences rather than simply produce work that they will “like”.

Hakuhodo: Controversy is needed to re-energise brands
Hakuhodo: Controversy is needed to re-energise brands

“The ‘like’ approach will not stop the brand from becoming obsolete,” said Takahiro Hosoda, creative director of TBWA Hakuhodo, referring to brands that continue to prioritise approval on social media. “The ‘no way’ approach can lead to breakthroughs and attract new fans.”

The duo outlined the ‘no way’ approach as going against consensus-building to deliver extraordinary, polarizing ideas. “If everyone likes it, something is missing,” Hosoda said. Of course, the client has to eventually come around to approving it—but waking them up from their stupor first is important. Hosada related one instance where he sprayed a client in the face with water to emphasise a point. The key lessons from the presentation were:

  • Don’t ask what’s possible—ask what’s impossible. The brief for TBWA Hakuhodo’s recent ‘X-Treme’ golf tournament for the Nissan X-Trail did not call for an extraordinary idea. When the team presented the concept of a competition played out over hundreds of miles of extreme terrain, the response was far from unanimous. “There was a lot of controversy and people said it was not feasible and would cost too much, but others loved it and in the end the project brought everyone satisfaction,” Hosoda said.
  • The best way to explain an idea is to enact it. “’Like’ ideas only need a presentation. More surprising ideas need to be demonstrated. We have to find alternative, inspiring ways to make presentations.”
  • Look for disagreements. “’No way’ ideas are essential for reenergising a brand. ‘Likes’ come from agreement, but ‘no way’ comes from argument.”

Campaign Asia-Pacific’s view: The presentation was engaging and the message valid, even if it was also a chance for Hakuhodo to present a showreel of its recent campaigns.

See also: Our original coverage of the wetsuits campaign, Sleek suits for surfing salarymen


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