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Seed Creativity presented to the world in Cannes

The 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was held from June 17 to 24. During the event, Dentsu held a seminar called Creativity for Business Innovation, in which speakers from the Company introduced the concept of “Seed Creativity,” and discussed methods for creatively developing projects together with clients against the backdrop of increasingly broad and complex issues that need to be overcome in order for businesses to progress to the next level. Seed Creativity offers a way for conventional advertising companies to not only handle the advertising-related work they specialize in, but also become involved from the business development stage. As such, it has implications for businesses and ad agencies worldwide. In this installment, two of the seminar speakers talk about the essence of Seed Creativity and its future possibilities.

Seed Creativity presented to the world in Cannes

Many members of ad firms and agencies listened attentively at Dentsu’s seminar held on June 19 at the main venue of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

We want to broaden the possibilities of creativity by specifying domains

Seed Creativity presented to the world in Cannes

Kazuhiro Shimura

Creative Director
Dentsu Inc.

In this year’s seminar, we discussed how an ad agency can introduce a new style of creativity from the initial stage of a client’s business, and illustrated that with the case of the OPEN ROAD PROJECT for Toyota Motor Corporation, which we have been involved in for many years. It is a project that has searched for ways to improve urban mobility through the use of the Toyota i-Road, a small electric vehicle (EV) that combines the characteristics of both a car and a motorcycle. By sharing information with outside experts, the project has continued to make progress in finding solutions for the lack of parking spaces and EV charging stations in Tokyo. Going beyond the advertising and communications work that ad companies have traditionally handled, we assembled a team with the client at the project development stage and went much farther upstream in this project.

I think that similar kinds of initiatives have probably been done by ad companies around the world. Nevertheless, because their domains of focus were undefined, they did not attract attention for taking on this challenge. We took the opportunity we had at Cannes to specify the domain that our team worked in, and named it “Seed Creativity,” with a desire to present to the world the new possibilities for creativity and ideas possessed by ad agencies. The word seed not only refers to how coming to fruition differs depending on how things are grown, it also refers to changes inside a seed at the DNA level, and how they can have a huge effect on life afterwards. If we can become involved from the stage of discovering the seeds of innovation, what we need to do in the second half of the sphere of communication will also change. Rather than just being in charge of advertising-related work, ultimately, we were able to increase the value given back to people. What we were able to contribute was identifying genuine issues from the perspective of consumers, and offering and implementing solutions. Even at the stage of creating businesses, we made use of the abilities we have always applied in advertising projects up to now.

Dentsu has experienced both failures and success over the years when awards were given at the Cannes Festival. We gained a great deal of feedback not only from creators around the world, but also from client companies. By taking advantage of that, I want to launch new innovations again and see many new precedents happen worldwide.

The ability of creators to mix things up can be applied at any stage of business

Seed Creativity presented to the world in Cannes

Yasuharu Sasaki

Head of Digital Creative and Executive Creative Director
Dentsu Inc.

While serving as a juror for various advertising awards, I have noticed a big trend: the realm of creativity is broadening. As new components get mixed on the digital palette, there have been notable cases of the creative function being applied in advance of advertising-related work. On the other hand, I have grown concerned that creativity is waning, as the work involved in creating conventional advertising has declined in recent years. Indeed, some even talk about the demise of advertising. Traditionally, creators have played a role in mixing up the values that have become fixed in organizations and going back to the standpoint of users. By uncovering issues that have been overlooked, creators can find a basis for concrete solutions. With that in mind, we proposed the domain of Seed Creativity while using projects that Kazuhiroi Shimura had been involved in as illustrative examples. For example, the OPEN ROAD PROJECT created a new urban mobility ecosystem with a parking space service app. Rather than pointing to the product itself as the reason why such a service had not become established in Tokyo before, the project identified the problem of a lack of parking spaces, and then had people search for parking spaces on foot throughout the city together with a company involved in outdoor media. That was just one of many creative ideas.

After the seminar, many attendants told us that they had become highly interested. We received especially good responses from agencies from outside Japan, which generally have very clear specializations. Copywriters also appeared keen on applying Seed Creativity as soon as possible. They were enthusiastic about trying something new. The fact is that among people who now specialize in digital-related work, only around half of them have a technical background. The other half are not even technically literate, buy they proactively and courageously leaped into the digital realm early on because they found it fascinating. If we do not pay much attention to the Seed Creativity that originated in Japan, we might fall behind the rest of the world.

Creators who have done advertising-related work in the past can become business creators. The conventional approach to advertising work is no longer a sure path to success, so I want to see them take on the challenge of newly applying creativity with an open mind. I also hope that business people will reflect the ideas of creators not only at the business development stage, but at every stage of business. Even without specialized organizations, the power of creativity can be incorporated at every level of business, so it is sure to open up different directions than those taken up until now.

An example of Seed Creativity: OPEN ROAD PROJECT

Seed Creativity presented to the world in Cannes

The OPEN ROAD PROJECT is being carried out by Toyota Motor Corporation’s Future Project Division with a vision to expand the freedom of urban mobility, especially through the use of Toyota i-Road, a personal mobility vehicle first announced in 2013. In collaboration with companies outside the Toyota Group, the division is conducting a large number of field tests for promoting greater use of the i-Road, including test drives by people recruited from the general public. Over the course of that process, the project has developed various services for the drivers, such as an app that shows a network of small spaces throughout Tokyo for the vehicle to park in, and an electricity-usage data-transmission system that allows previously unused outdoor electrical outlets to be utilized as charging areas. The promotional video for the project has won many advertising awards around the world, including awards at Cannes Lions.

Seed Creativity presented to the world in Cannes

i-Road, test driving on the road.



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