Toshi took me through some of his favourite projects including an epic ambient-media project for Sony, entitled ‘Colour is Magic’ where users could change the colour of their flagship store in Ginza through a website and watch it happen in real time. (I asked what happened when lots of people hit the site at the same time and the answer was, quite simply; “they have to wait”.)
He also told me about their work for Pachinko company Heiwa. Unsurprisingly, Pachinko companies have lots and lots of money so when challenged with promoting a new machine featuring a famous Japanese Manga series about a diamond thief called Lupin III they saw no problem with 777’s idea of offering 5 (count ‘em) ¥1,000 000 diamonds as prizes for the lucky site visitor able to crack the website’s code!
My absolute favorite story was of the campaign for the Future Marketing Summit 2007 where they installed a parrot in a cage with a webcam for 3 months (it’s OK, apparently “Fyu-chan” only worked for 8 hours a day) and invited users to try and to train it to say ‘Future Marketing”. The parrot was then wheeled out at the launch in the hope that he would say the name of the event on stage. He didn’t.
777 often work through Advertising giant Hakuhudo which Toshi cites as having many benefits when working across many mediums as they can focus on the concepts safe in the knowledge that they have the media/creative/strategy specialists to facilitate them. They also team up with companies like TYO Interactive and new digital production companies 602 and Kayac to develop larger projects. Toshi’s reputation is such that ideas, not size, are important to the clients they attract. As Toshi says “Clever clients find clever creatives and vice versa”
It struck me how much collaboration there is between the guys I have met on these pages to deliver big ideas within small companies – maintaining great relationships with clients and with each other as a network of digital visionaries, rather than business rivals. Toshi talked about Koichiro Tanaka (Projector), Naoki Ito (of GT, who I meet tomorrow) and Takayoshi Kishimoto from Unit9 (to whom I am forever indebted for making all of these introductions) and how important it is for the Japanese industry to have aspirational figureheads driving forward great concepts with great execution, integrity and attention to detail.
I was also interested to learn that Toshi teaches weekly at both Musashino Art University and Tama Art University progressing ideas of information and interactive design within their traditional Graphic Design courses. He feels he has an important role in facilitating new ways of thinking about changing media in Advertising and Design at student level.
It was a fascinating afternoon – we talked so much that I barely had time to eat the lunch that 777 had so kindly presented on my arrival. A small box which succeeded in simultaneously catering to my love of neat packaging, condiments AND coleslaw. Damn, these guys are good!