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The Tokyo Trip 21 November, 2006

Posted by Hilton Barbour in Us.
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Tokyo at night

Prior to my first Japanese trip, a colleague gave me this sage advice, “In Tokyo, things are what they are…unless they are not” Having been to the Far East before, the dichotomy of his counsel didn’t surprise me – after all, if Asia epitomizes dichotomies and Tokyo must be the poster child.

With 33 million (give or take) souls in one metro area, it ain’t surprising there is an exception to every rule. The ultra-modern skyscraper next to the centuries old Shinto shrine, the conservative, composed work colleague who transforms into a college kid on Spring Break after a few drinks, the efficiency of Shinjuku subway station with 3 million daily travelers to the chaos of Tsukiji Fish Market; Tokyo is home to them all. And it was here that Steven Elliott and I traveled in late October to meet with our colleagues from Dentsu Y&R.

The Banner/Dentsu relationship is quite young and is based on servicing our Hitachi DMG client. With Banner’s strong European technology credentials and Dentsu’s impressive reputation in Japan, the combination was a natural partnership to service Hitachi’s European business. The Japan trip was to build on the growing relationship between the two agencies and to begin crafting the next evolution of the “Best Kept Secret” campaign we launched in May 2006.

In short, the trip was a runaway success. Nothing compares to a real live indoctrination into the Japanese obsession with technology and design. As a 30-something male, you try resist an eight-storey building dedicated solely to all manner of electronic gadgets. Couple that with a city that actually has annual robot shows. Steve and I missed a robot conference by a few days where the highlight was a race between a robot that can run and one that can ride a bike! If you want to get technology – especially in the consumer space – nothing beats Tokyo.

We also benefited immensely from the counsel of our Dentsu colleagues who took great pride in ensuring we understood the nuances and sensibilities of Japanese aesthetics and design. All key inputs as the Banner/Dentsu team attempt to develop a unique brand voice for Hitachi. It has certainly been an interesting challenge for us to develop a campaign that recognizes Hitachi’s pedigree in the electronics category whilst celebrating its unique Japanese heritage. You can just imagine the passionate debates that ensue…

Ultimately, as Banner deepens its relationship with Hitachi and Dentsu, we will continue to grow our expertise in one of technology’s most unique and vibrant markets – Asia. With partners and clients like these, we’re looking forward to forging further partnerships and friendships in the region. One’s, ideally, that will unearth some interesting opportunities. What an exciting journey that promises to be!

See our Tokyo Flickr slideshow here.

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