Yukino Miyazawa (Copywriter, Advertising and Design Department, Shiseido) × Toru Yoshida (Creative Strategist, Naked Communications Tokyo) × Noriko Matsubara (Creative Director, Advertising and Design Department, Shiseido) Words that Move People. The Future of Shiseido’s Advertising Copy

This is an interview series in which creators at Shiseido discuss the idea of beauty with other designers and professionals active in their individual fields. In 2016, which marks the 100th anniversary of Shiseido’s Advertising and Design Department, guests appearing in this series will consider future Shiseido designs. This issue presents a conversation under the theme of “words as advertising copy,” which have conveyed Shiseido’s ideas of beauty for each era. Today’s guest is Toru Yoshida from Naked Communications Tokyo, who has taken charge of the strategic planning for many renowned companies. Creative Director Noriko Matsubara and Copywriter Yukino Miyazawa from Shiseido, who are working with Mr. Yoshida, join the talk. The world of today is overflowing with more words than ever. What kind of future awaits the advertising copy that has supported Shiseido until now?


Toru Yoshida
Creative Strategist. Joined Hakuhodo in 1985, but moved to WIEDEN+KENNEDY TOKYO in 2003. Taking advantage of his experience in strategic planning gained at the two companies, he took charge of service and planning as the Head of Planning at Naked Communications, Inc. from January 2012. To date, he has been involved in a wide range of projects in product development for brands, advertising sales promotions, studies, and branding for more than 200 companies including Shiseido, Nike, Google, Honda, Lotte, and P&G.

Noriko Matsubara
Joined Shiseido in 2000 after gaining experience in advertising agencies and other companies. She has been involved in advertising production for numerous brands in Japan and overseas. From 2006 to 2008, she was the editor-in-chief for the Hanatsubaki magazine. She is currently the Creative Director in charge of BENEFIQUE and other corporate brands.

Yukino Miyazawa
Joined Shiseido after graduating from the College of Sociology of Rikkyo University in 2010. For one year beginning in August 2013, she was temporarily transferred to an Internet production company to learn the fundamentals of digital communication. She is currently in charge of INTEGRATE, ELIXIR, and d program, among others.

The Values of Advertising Copy that Change with the Times

-- The Values of Advertising Copy that Change with the Times

Matsubara Previously, I had drawn my own impression that much of Shiseido’s advertisements focus on graphic design, and that it was difficult for the advertising copy to play a leading role in such an environment. All of the Shiseido campaigns in the 1970s were works that left a deep impression on people, and I was also inspired by them even as a child. However, when I spoke to Mr. Takao Onoda, a senior copywriter in the company, I learned a surprising fact (laughs). At the time, Mr. Onoda, who was working in the campaign office, would determine the selling method together with the sales team and then present a single piece of advertising copy to the company president without any visuals or storyboards.

-- This means that they practiced a copy-oriented strategy, didn’t they?

Matsubara Mr. Onoda explained clearly that “Regardless of the times, advertisements exist in order to sell a product, and for no other reason than that.” Hence, they produced their advertising copy after close discussions with the sales representatives, and upon gaining insight into the women of the times. The postwar period through Japan’s period of rapid growth was an era of pronounced materialism among Japanese people. Examples of advertising copy include “Brighter Silhouette and Shape – to Your Eyes” (1973, Shiseido CHIFFONETTE) and “Swaying Eyes” (1976, Shiseido CHIFFONETTE), which marketed makeup to light up the eyes of Japanese women at a time when eye makeup had not yet become an established cosmetics item. The catch-phrase “She Is Fresh Juice” (1975, Shiseido NATURALGLOW) created a fresh and vibrant image for orange-colored lipstick, which was difficult to sell. Words connected new values with our perspective of the world, and such TV commercials brought us great excitement.

-- Mr. Yoshida, I hear that you majored in Japanese linguistics at university, and have a stronger interest in languages than most people. Furthermore, you are now engaged in work related to the communication strategies of a wide range of companies. Do you support the idea that “the advertising copy of the times = words?”

Yoshida Advertising copy fulfills the role of dissecting and translating the values of its era. For example, during the economic development after the Second World War, we aspired toward a European/American form of cosmopolitan lifestyle, and the ownership of material objects such as home appliances and cars came to represent a rich lifestyle. In order to realize that, improvements in industrial production capability and the development of mass marketing through mass media took on great significance.

-- I believe your illustration of the end of the postwar Japan paradigm is about the same, isn’t it? Postwar Japan emphasized rebuilding the nation, and hence improved its industrial production capability to become a society that pursues efficiency.

Yoshida That’s right. Amidst such changes in society, consumers in Japan acquired a new lifestyle and learned concepts such as “fashion” and “beauty,” and began to enjoy their lives. After that, however, we experienced events such as the bursting of the economic bubble and the Great East Japan Earthquake, and realized the limitations and distortions of an ideology centered on efficiency. We then began to escape from material wealth. That is to say, rather than the wealth of owning material objects that we purchase with money earned from selling our time, more and more people began to pursue value in enriching the intangible happenings that occur during their allotted lifespan, such as relationships, richness of experience, or the creation of something that is useful to others. This was a trend toward the rebuilding of society with a focus on humanity, and it is perhaps natural for the roles of advertisements and advertising copy to undergo a gradual change under such circumstances.

Advertising copy for Shiseido CHIFFONETTE: “Brighter Silhouette and Shape – to Your Eyes” (1973). Photography: Noriaki Yokosuka Illustration depicting the end of the postwar Japan paradigm and the social conditions at the time (Artist: Toru Yoshida) Illustration depicting the return to a humanity-oriented society after the burst of the economic bubble and major earthquake disasters (Artist: Toru Yoshida)

Toward Advertising Copy that Influences People

-- How does the communication strategy you work on link with the creation of new advertising copy that can meet the changes of the times that you have just described?

Yoshida Firstly, precise and appealing advertising copy that hits the mark on new perspectives and ideas has always functioned as a means of selling things. Against this concept, I feel that advertising copy that influences people has become increasingly important. For example, I think that hashtags in social media are an extreme form of advertising copy in modern times. There is a wide variety of hashtags, from those that become wildly popular as jokes, to those that give rise to social movements. Outstanding hashtags induce many people to voluntarily disseminate information or take action, and contribute to significant behavior among people.

-- “Advertising copy that influences people” not only encourages consumers to buy, but also encourages them to take the next action, doesn’t it?

Yoshida Yes. I believe that advertising copy today should serve as material to communicate some form of message. In the present times, everyone is in an environment that allows them to disseminate information, instead of being a passive audience. The final audience that we deliver our advertising copy to is the consumers, but these consumers have now also become the media. Consumers today do not simply consume information and experiences, but stock up on them in order to transform them into something that is useful to themselves, or take them as investment for themselves. In that sense, instead of the B-to-C concept that we have been accustomed to until now, we may be in an era in which messages are sent out in a concept that is similar to B-to-B. This is one of the meanings of “influencing people.”

Matsubara While Shiseido aims, of course, to sell material goods such as cosmetic products, it also promotes the important concept of beauty. Although trends are constantly changing, lustrous skin and a beautiful complexion are universal aspects of human beauty that we will always continue to pursue. Being directly involved in Shiseido’s advertising production, I believe that in-depth, daily exploration into this area is a way of striking the precious mother lode. Perhaps I could say that we are digging deep into the essence of human nature.

Advertising Copy to Satisfy People’s Emotions

-- Ms. Miyazawa, you are an active young copywriter. What do you keep in mind when you are coming up with advertising copy?

Miyazawa I once read in an interview with a copywriter that “copywriting is the work of creating ‘directional arrows.’” This happened precisely at the point when I was wondering what a copywriter was, and I remember a strong sense of conviction immediately after I read that. Since then, whenever I come up with advertising copy, I constantly ask myself whether or not the copy serves as a “directional arrow” that moves people’s hearts.

-- This echoes the concept of “advertising copy that influences people” brought up earlier, doesn’t it?

Miyazawa Yes. In my case, I would say that rather than producing copy, I find it. Instead of beautifully trimmed words, I feel that the words that are familiar to us, that surround us, are sometimes more powerful. It would be ideal if the advertising copy that I “find” in this way became the words that we can pass on to many people like batons, as Mr. Yoshida described before.

Yoshida When I work in a team, I often propose that we first create a wall. This is not a wall that separates people (laughs), but a board where everyone can stand shoulder-to-shoulder to look at as we give our opinions freely. When each individual brings various ideas to the wall, puts them up, and superimposes them over one another, everyone naturally begins to adopt a similar perspective, looks and thinks in the same direction, and combines their creative forces.

Matsubara In a vertical organizational structure segmented into areas such as copy, visual, and marketing, where the decision rights lie often becomes a serious problem, and conversely, gives rise to uninspiring average outcomes that please everyone. Your working style is different from that, isn’t it? As a strategist who works together with various professionals, how do you view copywriters and how do you collaborate with them?

Yoshida I believe that those who are able to appreciate the various human emotions can become outstanding copywriters. It is the power of emotions that influences people. If we connect facts through time and inject our emotions into them, this creates drama. By allowing human emotions to flow through a framework of logical strategy, we are able to create the driving force that influences people. Of course, every writer has his or her own characteristics and strengths, and that in turn has an impact on the communication strategies that we adopt. There is an infinite variety of combinations depending on the team.

-- In a team that brings together people who produce things, what are the important roles of a Creative Strategist?

Yoshida Strategy and creativity, as well as logic and emotion—we create unprecedented forms of communication within the dynamic chemical reactions that arise within these elements. Our work is similar to alchemy. From the focal point of the strategy that we have narrowed our choices down to, we offer inspiration that allows the creators to take flight with abandon. Our aim is to strike a balance between the best work that can be produced by the creators, and the best outcome for the brand.

『necklaces』(2015) MAJOLICA MAJORCA magazine advertisement that Miyazawa helped to produce (2015) 『necklaces』(2015) BENEFIQUE, which marks its 20th anniversary this year (2016)

Words of the Japanese Aesthetic to the World

-- In recent years, it has also become necessary for advertising copy to have a global character. It is necessary to have a stronger awareness of how the copy is communicated in other linguistic circles, isn’t it?

Yoshida Chris Riley (global branding and communication strategist who works with international corporations) once commented that the sensibilities and culture of the Japanese people should be communicated globally, and the value of such should be fully demonstrated. Since the Meiji era, Japan has imported much of the culture and values from other countries, and done well in imitating them. In future, however, he argues that there will be great potential in sharing with the world the appealing values originating from Japan. An example would be the Japanese expression boke, which captures in a positive light the parts of a photo that are unfocused. This expression has become common language used across the world, such as in the sentence, “This boke is beautiful.” I think that the eloquent transformation of Japan’s unique aesthetic sense into words and images in this way opens up an opportunity for advertising expressions in the future. This is because there are few languages that are as rich as the Japanese language in terms of its temperature and texture.

Matsubara Isn’t the value of experience something that can be shared beyond language? With the flood of information nowadays, I think that copywriters have to be armed with editing capability. I feel that it is necessary for copywriters to have a bird’s-eye view perspective that looks at how to communicate a value at various touchpoints in an appealing way, and further, which envisions that people disseminate the value.

Shiseido Advertising History, a collection of the company’s past advertising works

Advertising Copy as Teamwork, and Editing Capability

Yoshida One of the important aspects in the work of a Creative Strategist is building scenarios. This calls for editing skills to expand a simple idea along a time axis and compose it into something that is three-dimensional, or the analytical ability of extracting the simple essence from a complex phenomenon. One example of this would be Google’s Japanese copy that translates literally as, “Let’s search.” This is simple yet powerful, and serves as the starting point for coming up with outstanding creative ideas. This copy is based on the insight that the “searching is enriching” concept is embedded in the human DNA. We have evolved in our search for various things, and what we look for shapes how we live our lives. If we are able to combine our logical considerations of society, business, people, and brands together with profound insight and a manifesto that speaks of intrinsic values, I believe that advertising copy can become increasingly simplified.

Matsubara That is to say, something that may appear to be simple at one glance can gain power if it is backed by strong logic and configuration ability, right? Would that mean that a strategist is positioned as a facilitator with the overarching view within that framework? Going forward, the opinions and debates that arise as a result of horizontal connections will become increasingly necessary.

Yoshida Yes, that’s right. I am also of the view that advertising expressions of the future cannot be completed through the work of an individual creator. It is important to create an atmosphere on the production sites that is inviting for everyone. In such situations, it will probably become important to share values through manifestos or other means.

-- Ms. Miyazawa, as a copywriter, do you feel that it is important to share values in the course of production?

Miyazawa We are currently engaged in a project for updating a certain brand, in collaboration with Mr. Yoshida. In order to provide an indication of the brand’s positioning and direction, we first summarized the concept in words. When we conducted a customer survey on the concept, and it was extremely well received. Establishing the core concept that will serve as the anchor has strengthened the solidarity of the team, and we are now moving forward while sharing our thoughts and ideas with one another. In hindsight, I feel that what we produced, believing to be a concept, had in fact also been the “manifesto.”

Yoshida The manifesto is the essence of the project, as well as an aesthetic rule book. It does not fix the overall concept rigidly, but provides the core idea. The same goes for projects unrelated to branding, such as the planning of a charity project organized as a part of CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities. We would all agree that this is the best form to express our characteristic styles and contribute to the consistent development of the project. When the baton is passed from brand manager to creative director, agency, and the actual site of sales, which is the store, the feeling of running side by side and matching our paces with one another is born.

Matsubara I have also put into practice artistic direction that is centered on the creation of a manifesto, which I learned from Mr. Yoshida. With the manifesto, the marketing representatives and staff were able to head toward the same goal, and it strengthened our solidarity as a team. The outcome of our collaboration with Mr. Yoshida will gradually become public around autumn, and we are also looking forward to that.

Published in June 2016

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