Kentaro Kimura: To conquer people’s hearts and minds, you have to do something crazy

Mar. 11, 2024
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For the power of non-traditional advertising, see what one of the world’s most award-winning creators shared

Kentaro Kimura, photo: Golden Drum

“First, I act from a position of empathy towards the client and view them as a single target audience. Then I turn emotion into conviction,” Kentaro Kimura tells us. With over 150 awards from internationally recognized forums, he is one of the most awarded creators in the world. He began his career as a strategic planner, subsequently became a creative director, and in 2006 founded Hakuhodo Kettle, an agency whose mission is to go beyond the boundaries of traditional advertising methods. Its customers are Toyota, Sony, Google, Suntory and others. To date, Kimura is the Chief Creative Officer of Hakuhodo and is responsible for all of the company’s offices. The reason for our conversation is his role as Chairman of the Jury in the direction of Omni-Channel Drum within this year’s edition of the Golden Drum International Festival of Creativity. The festival will take place from 9 to 10 October in the Slovenian town of Portorož. See what Kimura told about the power of the “non-traditional” in the advertising world and the criteria by which he will evaluate the participants in the competition.

You have an extensive portfolio of award-winning work, what qualities or elements truly impress you when evaluating the creative work of others, and why?
In order to conquer people’s hearts and minds, to dictate their behavior and create a lasting effect, I believe you have to do something crazy. It could be an innovative idea; a bold challenge that challenges the traditional way of thinking; incredible mastery and elaboration of even the smallest detail; a previously unimagined way to use technology that changes our lives or completely reverse the perception of a brand. The key to success in my opinion is creating those crazy points.

As the president of the Omni-channel Golden Drum Jury, how do you approach evaluating campaigns that span across various channels?
It is important not only to combine multiple media, but also to create a scenario that drives people to the intended customer journey.

Could you share insights into three of your most unconventional ad campaigns, explaining the inspiration behind each and what made them stand out in your creative journey?
“Memories for the Future by Google”: If we lose the past, we cannot look forward. We walked through the earthquake and tsunami-affected area and discovered the insight of the victims. Then we came up with idea of creating a platform to recover their precious lost memories.

“Loving Eyes”: A father’s love for his daughter is invisible but always on and working, which is the same as the anti-collision safety function of the car. And that invisible love is recorded in their eyes as previous exchanges taken place in the car. The team discussed for so many days until midnight about love and safety and reached this insight.

“Hibiki Glass”: When people drink whiskey, they imagine many things taking time with a glass in their hand. To visualize this imagination and provide a new whisky experience, we combined a very traditional whiskey glass with innovative sensor technology and created the interactive whisky glass world.

When presenting ideas to clients what key aspects do you emphasize to ensure your creative vision aligns with their goals?
I always try to convince my clients from both an emotional and logical perspective. First, I emotionally move and empathize with the client as a single target audience. Next, I turn the emotion into conviction by logically proving that the emotion and empathy will efficiently and effectively realize the business goals. In other words, I encourage the drama of the client’s decision making from both the right brain and then the left brain.

As a creative leader what advice would you give to aspiring ad directors looking to make a lasting impact in the industry?
I believe that you should value the aspirations that consistently exist within you. If you can erupt your internal magma, you can make a lasting impact in the industry.

What impact will artificial intelligence have on the advertising industry?
I believe that AI will positively affect our creativity in three stages: In the first stage, AI will increase the time we spend on creativity by replacing tasks that do not need to be done by humans. In the second stage, as we find the areas of work that AI cannot do, the creativity that only humans can create becomes clear. In the third stage, AI will boost and amplify our creativity as a powerful partner for us. In short, we should be aware of how we can use AI in our work for the purpose of increasing our imaginative time, understanding what only we can do, and maximizing our own creativity.

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