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Tea with GT

Hange Man

Hange Woman

Before I met GT Inc. on Friday I had a scout around their website in preparation. The ‘Love Needs Distance’ project that is featured on there was so powerful it actually made me cry – I knew this was going to be an interesting meeting!

I met with Naoki Ito, Creative Director, and his assistant Takayuki Rokutan. They describe GT Inc. as a 360° Agency – working across all types of Advertising media – interactive, video, ambient, outdoors and good old-fashioned print. The entirely independent company is 3 yrs old and made up of a core team of six.

They took me through some of their showcase projects. Firstly they had to explain the strange figures (above) that were in the meeting room with us – an Out of Home campaign for a Japanese mobile game called “Hange” which translates as “Half”. They created these enigmatic ‘half’ people and dotted them around key spots in Tokyo – using FeliCa software (previously referenced in an earlier post) a passerby could touch their phone to the quirky creatures to download the game for themselves.

They then took me on a fantastic journey from the sublime – a beautiful piece of print for the Japan Interactive Advertising Annual, based on the layout of a blog, in which they re-inforced the concept of 360° thinking by designing a 4-way mirrored typeface (this took a lot of explaining as my knowledge of Katakana isn’t exactly brilliant!) – to the ridiculous with the hilarious viral ad for Coffee Max (canned coffee that features heavily in my drinks machines study!). This features a ‘Human Car Race’ so inline with our western perception of crazy Japanese gameshows one might almost think it was a real event!

But of course I was most taken with the blind-branded entertainment project that they created for Sagami Original and the “World’s Thinnest Condom” (0.2 mm to be precise). GT were charged with creating a condom “power brand”, something that didn’t exist in Japan, and for this Naoki felt they had to move away from crude ideas around Sex to abstract, gentler universal themes of Love. Tying into concepts of distance (0.2 mm?), safety, restraint and passion he came up with the concept of “Love Needs Distance”.

Tapping into the Japanese passion for reality TV (although, I should add ‘Big Brother’ has not made it here!) they selected a real couple in a long-distance relationship willing to run for 24 days (1 Billion millimeters!) to meet each other in Tokyo, not only that but prepared to make all communication in that time – sms, video calls, faxes (yes, apparently the Japanese still have an attachment to the fax machine – a nostalgia for a simpler time, perhaps?) available to the world.

What I found most interesting about this advertising narrative was not only that they ran a ‘blind’ campaign for a month drawing people in to the human and romantic tale of two lovers running to see each other, but that once the reveal had been made the campaign had a second, perhaps even more powerful, life as a ‘making-of’ piece. Everything was up for grabs and interest was totally sustained, rather than the audience feeling in any way duped.

The project was PR’d with data research on long distance relationships – it emerged that 50% of Japanese people had experienced a long distance relationship in their lives and of them 50% of couples in this situation had cheated. This research was seeded and linked to the ‘event’ on Japan’s answer to Facebook, Mixi.

Naoki worked for ADK (the third largest Japanese Ad agency) before joining GT and covered in all areas of the business – Sales Promotion, Account Planning, Interactive Production and PR before crossing over into the creative realm. This experience feeds his holistic approach to campaigns and strategy – he strongly believes in creating a core concept and then working to cleverly integrate this idea into all areas of design, content and publicity – something he is exceptionally good at. He talked energetically about moving into Chinese markets where the work is less domestic, and of constantly breaking new ground in all media. Having seen the work, met the man and been totally inspired by his approach, I have no doubt.

Hello

I'm Franki Goodwin - freelance Creative Director and Digital Strategist. This blog was started whilst on sabbatical in Australia and Japan in 2009 and is now my day to day professional ramblings, drawings and interesting-ish happenings. A selection of my work is also showcased below. franki@frankigoodwin.com