Students of The One Academy, one of the world’s leading art and design college, were graced by the presence of Kentaro Kimura, co-founder and executive creative director of Hakuhodo Kettle, one of Japan’s most prominent advertising agencies, during the recent POLYCON 2016, an international digital media arts festival held at Bandar Sunway and Kuala Lumpur.
Kentaro is known for his foresights and sharp mind when it comes to creative campaigns that cross beyond the boundaries of strategy, creativity, digital and public relations fields. He has a strong track record within the industry, possessing over 100 prestigious awards including 8 Grand Prix in various international advertising festivals.
For an advertising magnate such as himself, Kentaro asserted that the most important thing for creativity remains to be passion. At POLYCON 2016, Kentaro was the keynote speaker for the Symposium held at Technology Park Malaysia, Bukit Jalil, where he shared about his visions of advertising and how it has the potential to improve quality of life.
According to Kentaro, the advertising field is drastically changing, as can be observed through the addition of competition categories of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a global event and gathering for professionals in advertising, creative communications and other related fields.
With his keen observation of human lifestyle that is changing rapidly with the environment, Kentaro realises the imminent problem posed by such reliance towards technology that makes us feel complacent with convenience and comfort, making us more ‘robotic’ day by day while knowing we will never revert to our previous ways of life.
Kentaro’s answer to this issue is evolution. Therefore, instead of being ‘back to human’, he titled his POLYCON keynote ‘Forward to Human’, that is, creating human-centered technology and creativity that can humanise us instead of the opposite. In application, Kentaro advised The One Academy students to always install an EC (emotional chip) when creating their own campaigns.
By utilising this “chip”, it allows people to tap into their emotional energy, which is the source of humanity. Though, he stressed that an emotional energy is not a superficial state of mind such as happiness and hunger, which are emotional outputs. Love, for instance, is an extreme fundamental in our lives and so it is a form of emotional energy.
One of his greatest examples of humanising technology is his Suntory Hibiki Glass campaign. Despite already being one of Japan’s best blended whisky, his campaign revamped the brand and brought it into relevance by developing the world’s first interactive whisky glass. The microchip-embedded whiskey glass provided a new drinking experience in which bar patrons will trigger visual and aural feedback in the bar based on which kind of whiskey they took and how they move the glass.
On top of his Hibiki campaign, Kentaro also displayed some of his other works that embed the themes of confidence, nostalgia, politeness and curiosity to create appealing brand stories. Based on his vast experience judging for advertising competitions, besides idea and craft, participants such as The One Academy students should emphasise on the impact that their campaigns can exert on its audience.
In addition to the Symposium at POLYCON, Kentaro also conducted a Masterclass which involved a more hands-on intensive setting that would allow for students to effectively build up their campaign conceptualising skills, following The One Academy’s ‘Masters Train Masters’ philosophy. He trained students using the five fundamental self-created techniques of ‘Creative Alchemy’ that can “generate brilliant ideas”.
Presented in colourful, eye-catching illustration and live voice over by Kentaro himself, he introduced the creative alchemy which is founded based on two creative methods practised in the creative thinking process – the city thinking which depicts a safe and logical way of thinking, and the forest thinking; the unconscious or subconscious thinking which involves risks and brings far more brilliant ideas.
From these two, he focused on how the forest thinking can be cultivated – through five formulas. The first formula is Combine. It is where a new idea is borne out of the combination of existing ideas. For example, mixing a robot and a police will give you Robocop, while love and contract gives you marriage. His Hibiki Glass campaign was a perfect example of this formula as it combined tradition with innovation.
The second method is Mimic. This involves implementing an existing idea but not necessarily a copy. The method takes the basis of one idea and applies it to a different situation. One example of this is the sushi train, which idea apparently came from a bottling plant where bottles in a production line are placed on a conveyor belt for filling and capping.
The third method is Upside Down or doing the reverse of what is expected. We have been taught to avoid catching virus infections for example, but the cure for an infection is to inject a virus into the body. In the movie Planet of the Apes, it’s the apes who ruled the world while humans are the slaves or animals. In September last year, Yahoo Japan launched Hands on Search which turned spoken words into physical objects by using 3D printers in an effort to help visually impaired children to learn about objects around them.
The fourth one is What If, which challenges how people perceive reality, like the creation of the dog door which allows dogs to go in and out of the house through a specially built door within a regular door. In Kimura’s example, he showed a series of ads for Toyota which put forward the kaizen principle of continuous improvement by showing damaged cars in hospitals being cared for as if they were living beings.
The last one is the Truth Behind. Through this method, creative professionals are tasked to discover the reasons behind actions, behaviors, decisions, occurrences, or other activities to generate deeper and more emotionally connected ideas.
Following the devastating tsunami in Japan’s Tohoku region in 2011, many families lost more than just their properties and belongings but also memories in photos. Google Japan and Hakuhodo Kettle arranged to facilitate the collection of those old memories by crowdsourcing requests for pictures from all over Japan to assist those who have lost those mementos in a project called Memories for the Future.
After the idea goes through the forest thinking method, it is ‘brought back to the city’ to incorporate reality. At the end of the day, these five methods for creative alchemy and the contrasting ways of thinking can easily be discovered through the regular ideation and creative processes but it was Kimura’s way in conveying those elements which made the entire concept very compelling and fascinating to learn.
Some of his parting words for POLYCON was “creativity needs diversity”. In order to develop great ideas, students need to go out, see the world and absorb the experience. With great ideas, one should also strive to change the world for the better. Kentaro sees himself as being reborn every day, and therefore, gets new opportunities to create more good in the world.
“If you can’t change the world today, you just might be able to tomorrow,” Kentaro said to inspired The One Academy students.
Kentaro Kimura during his Masterclass at The One Academy for POLYCON 2016.
Q&A session with students during Kentaro Kimura’s Masterclass at The One Academy for POLYCON 2016.
Group photo at the end of Kentaro Kimura’s Masterclass at The One Academy for POLYCON 2016.
Kentaro Kimura during his keynote ‘Forward to Human’ at Symposium, Technology Park Malaysia, Bukit Jalil, for POLYCON 2016.