Mariko Ogata (Copywriter and Senior Director, Hakuhodo Incorporated) × Takeshi Ono (Chief Creative Director, Advertising and Design Department, Shiseido) × Saiko Kawahara (Art Director, Advertising and Design Department, Shiseido) Empathy, longing… Who are the “images of women” depicted by Shiseido created for?

This is an interview series in which creators at Shiseido discuss the idea of beauty with other designers and professionals active in their respective 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. The image of the “ideal woman” varies across eras and cultures, from the goddesses depicted in famous works of art and the actresses featured on the silver screen, to the senior colleague at work you aspire to be. In its pursuit for beauty Shiseido has drawn out the inner beauty of the women living in different eras through its continued efforts to depict the images of women who tug at our heartstrings. Amidst the dizzying changes of the times and values, how are new images of women created?

For this TALK, we welcome Ms. Mariko Ogata, a successful copywriter from Hakuhodo, as our guest. Creators Takeshi Ono and Saiko Kawahara from Shiseido join in the talk. The three speakers discuss the image of women in the future, including differences in the perspectives of men and women, as well as differences arising from culture and times.


Mariko Ogata
Born in Tokyo in 1978. Joined Hakuhodo in 2001. Mariko Ogata is a popular copywriter who has created advertising copies for leading corporations including Shiseido, Lumine, Kirin Brewery Company, and Nissan Motor Company. She has won numerous advertising awards, including the TCC Award and the Grand Prix of the Asahi Advertising Award. Her first published novel was Shichakushitsu de omoidashitara, honki no koi da to omou (Remembering you in a fitting room, you should be my true love.) (GENTOSHA INC.). Ogata has many female fans who resonate with her copies, which express the subtle emotions of women. She has also composed song lyrics for Nanba Shiho and V6. Since 2015, she has been serving as the Editor-in-Chief for the magazine KOHKOKU published by Hakuhodo.

Takeshi Ono
After graduating from the Department of Visual Communication Design at Musashino Art University, Takeshi Ono joined Shiseido’s Advertising and Design Department in 1990 as a graphic designer. Since 1994, he has mainly been involved in producing advertisements for domestic cosmetic brands (TESSERA, PN, TSUBAKI, and ELIXIR) as an Art Director and Commercial Planner. He is currently in charge of creative direction for brands such as ANESSA and PRIOR.

Saiko Kawahara
After graduating from the Department of Fine Arts, College of Arts, Nihon University, Saiko Kawahara joined Shiseido in 1992. She has produced numerous works in collaboration with renowned photographers overseas. She excels at providing photography direction with a sense of class, and has consistently created representations of beauty with a focus on global brands. She is currently in charge of art direction for clé de peau BEAUTÉ.

First encounters with the images of women created by Shiseido|1

--Could you each first introduce yourselves, and tell me about your work and your encounter with the images of women created by Shiseido?

KawaharaMy encounter with the images of women created by Shiseido happened when I was a student, through a product leaflet that I received from a small cosmetics store in my neighborhood. I was attracted not only by the beauty of the model, but also by the overall clean feel and elegance of the leaflet, including its design and text. Since then, I continued to visit the store every time a new leaflet was released. When I started working at Shiseido after I graduated, I was also linked by fate to my first supervisor, Mr. Katsuhiko Shibuya (currently the Executive Creative Director), who had produced that leaflet.

OnoIt was the heyday of television and popular songs when I was a student. My admiration of the commercial campaigns that Shiseido launched for each season at that time could be described as my first encounter with Shiseido. I have a particularly clear memory of the commercials that I saw from the second half of the 1970s to the 1980s. The perspective of the world presented in those advertisements was a brilliant and vivid one, which fused glamorous women together with the cool music of Eikichi Yazawa, Twist, and RATS & STAR. Having experienced that, when I joined Shiseido as a graphic designer, I made an active effort to become increasingly involved in the production of commercials.

--As a copywriter, Ms. Ogata, you play an active role on the sites of production for various corporate advertisements, including Shiseido. Do you have any memories of your “encounter” with Shiseido?

OgataAlthough I was mostly uninterested in cosmetics when I was a student, my curiosity was piqued by Shiseido’s Actea heart commercial (1997) featuring Michiko Shimamori and Remi Hirano.

--This was the commercial with the copy “More Beautiful 50-Year-Olds Will Change Japan,” that the etcher Yoko Yamamoto and other female public figures also appeared in.

OgataI belong to the era of kogals, trend-obsessed teenagers. During my student days, the idea that “youth was invincible” prevailed around me. At the same time, however, I had a vague sense that youth was also transient. It was during this time that I saw this commercial that proposed the beauty in aging, and it left a deep impression on me. It was one of my favorite commercials by Shiseido, and I think that it would resonate strongly with people even today.

“Natsuko’s Summer,” produced with a musical collaboration with Twist (1979)

From the desire to be popular, to beauty as manners—the changing values of beauty|2

--Based on what you said, the images of women created by Shiseido have been diverse, and have focused not only on exterior appearance, but rather, consistently reflected the intangible values of the times.

OnoLooking back, beginning with the contemporary designs and illustrations of Ayao Yamana (1897-1980), who created the Hanatsubaki logo, and leading up to the bold yet exquisitely trimmed photographs of women’s eyes and lips created by Makoto Nakamura, as well as the unique worldview of Serge Lutens, Shiseido has consistently produced new images of women for the times. As Ms. Kawahara explained, these images were established based on an overall depiction that comprises the models, the title copy, and the design. We could say that history has been built up in tandem with changes in the media forms of the illustration, photographs, and videos.

--How were the respective images of women for each brand of the times produced?

OnoDuring the first stage, we decided on the targets for products across the entire company. Simply put, we considered the question “Who do we want our products to be used by?” On top of that, we gradually closed in on more detailed images of the women in our minds, such as “What type of house does she live in?” or “What type of fashion does she enjoy?” This process helped to deepen our perspectives of the brand. While I am sure these were the first questions considered regardless of the era, these days we are probing them especially deeply.

--How are these images of women applied to the actual production of advertisements?

KawaharaIt differs depending on your job scope. For example, the advertisement for INTEGRATE that I worked on together with Ms. Ogata used the approximately 10 lines of text that she had written as a starting point. Based on that point, we expanded and developed the images of women.

--The copy created by Ms. Ogata, “Live Lovely ♥,” accurately captures and summarizes the image of the INTEGRATE woman in a single word, doesn’t it? I understand that the aim was to respond to Shiseido’s philosophy of “drawing out the inner beauty” of a person.

KawaharaWhen we think about the images of women, to begin with, we cannot avoid the question of “Why do they use makeup?” In the past, it felt as if there were many people who used makeup because they wanted to look beautiful for others; recently however, there are also many who use makeup for themselves, I suppose.

OgataWe often hear that women put greater effort into dressing themselves up for a girl’s night out, don’t we?! Modern women do not limit their communication to their boyfriends; they enjoy participating in various communities, and start to gain a different perspective on marriage. Their partners then become only one of the reasons to use makeup. The growing trend of considering beautiful skin as part of good manners, or associating it with a sense of well-being and as a reflection of one’s inner state of mind, are examples of apparent changes in the value placed on beauty. On the other hand, we can always say that makeup and skincare are “switches” that women use to change the way they feel.

KawaharaIt is true that we feel excited when we use new cosmetic products; conversely, we feel depressed when our skin is in a bad condition… I think that for women, becoming more beautiful is a concept that is directly linked to our brains.

OnoI think the idea of the “switch” that Ms. Ogata mentioned is an important one. From there, it can also provide the chance for one to take a step forward and gain confidence and courage, right?

The line art illustrations by Ayao Yamana were produced in the 1950s. Shiseido’s de Luxe series / Reference: Shiseido Advertising History The illustration for the Shiseido Lipstick series was a work by Takushi Mizuno (1960s) / Reference: Shiseido Advertising History The advertisement for Shiseido’s INTEGRATE brand, which was the first job for Mariko Ogata and Saiko Kawahara (2011)

The unique image of women through the perspective of men|3

--Differences in the perspectives held by men and women seem to have an impact on the depiction of new images of women. Are there many men in Shiseido’s creator team, which has constantly been a provider of beauty?

OnoI believe the mainstream cosmetics advertisements in the past had attempted to draw out a sense of yearning or longing in the viewer. Incidentally, it is also true that most of these advertisements had been produced by men. Thereafter, it became more popular to fragment users and brands, undertake marketing efforts, and further, to place the emphasis on empathy. These days, the hearts of people cannot be moved simply through a sense of yearning or symbolism. In the future, there is no doubt that female creators will become even more active in this field. However, as a man, I am confident that there are also things we can do precisely because of our perspective as men.

--What are some of these things?

OnoFor example, during the planning meetings, the women often point out that my ideas are presented from the perspective of a man. However, I think that it is my unique strength as a member of the opposite sex to be able to take a step into the lovely world of women, in areas where they become a little hesitant and shy. I think this may be similar to why a woman’s opinions would be important when producing a male idol.

--It is true that there are certain images of women that can only be expressed by a member of the opposite sex. Ms. Kawahara, what was your reason for asking Ms. Ogata, who is a woman like yourself, to create the copy for INTEGRATE?

KawaharaI felt intuitively that it would be better to have a female copywriter for INTEGRATE. However, when working solely with female staff, there is a tendency to create drier expressions, so I also paid attention to tasking male cameramen with the job of taking pictures that capture the colorfulness of women in a way that only they can.

--Ms. Kawahara, you are also involved in the work of expanding the brand overseas. Are there any differences between Japan and other countries when it comes to creating images of women?

KawaharaWhile there are differences in culture and values among the different regions, the image of women that we create for the brand is considered to be the same one both in Japan and overseas. For example, we use female models who radiate a sense of their own inner brilliance.

The clé de peau BEAUTÉ advertisement created by Saiko Kawahara (2016) ANESSA’s “Run, Yoko Maki” advertisement created by Takeshi Ono (2016)

The resolve to contribute to society, as the ultimate goal of advertising|4

--What do you think is the significance of depicting new images of women through corporate advertising?

OnoIt is natural for corporations to impose various requirements on us, such as contributing to sales and improving the branding. However, I believe that the ultimate goal of advertisement production is to contribute to society. How can we express the things that move our hearts in order to bring dreams and courage to all women? That is the constant goal that I aspire toward.

KawaharaIn relation to that, there is one aspect that I perceive as an issue. As we try to create images of women for brands that are becoming increasingly diversified and fragmented, if we advance this process too aggressively, there is a risk that the “face of Shiseido” ends up taking a backseat and becoming obscured. I try to think about how we should approach this problem.

--In light of our discussion today, would that be the image of women for Shiseido as a whole?

OgataCertainly, instead of pushing forward solely to achieve victory for each individual brand, maintaining the “Shiseido style” is an important value. From my point of view, I feel that some of that is present today. Even though there are various directions for the expressions, Shiseido is firmly consistent on aspects such as the quality of the final product, the clean feel, and the delicate subtlety.

KawaharaIn truth, there is a second part to the story about the Shiseido leaflet that I mentioned at the beginning of this dialogue. The other day, I had the opportunity to talk to a young Art Director, and she told me that she had fallen in love with Shiseido after seeing a MAJOLICA MAJORCA leaflet that I had produced. This made me very happy. It made me realize that the times repeat themselves.

--This is proof that even when the times change, the “Shiseido style” continues to be passed on steadily, isn’t it?

OnoFor me, since around the 1990s, I have been concerned that this “quality of the final product” has not been adequately passed down within the company. Furthermore, the creator who is attempting to instill dreams in people should not stop moving forward because they are backward-looking and do not think that something is “Shiseido-esque.” We should constantly challenge ourselves to create new expressions, and continue to create new images of women. I believe that is yet another aspect of the “Shiseido style.” I think that it is unacceptable for creators to remain in their comfort zone.

The “Springy Bubbles” advertisement for facial wash foam of SENKA that Mariko Ogata and Takeshi Ono were involved in producing (2007)

Creative heritage as an aspect of the “Shiseido style”|5

--In other words, continuing to tackle new challenges is yet another aspect of the “Shiseido style,” isn’t it?

OgataWhen people or organizations attempt to change, I think that it is not right to start by discarding all the things that had always been important and aiming for something different. That is why if there were any aspects of Shiseido that should be changed, it would probably be best for the people who are on the inside, and who have the same philosophy as Mr. Ono, to be the ones implementing the changes.

OnoThe other day, a certain manufacturer came up with an advertising strategy that completely eliminated the modification or processing of models’ photographs in the future. I think that is a wonderful development. However, it would be completely meaningless if the output of this strategy did not turn out to be wonderful. Even in times when digital technology was not yet available, Shiseido had already mastered the skill of presenting the beauty of women through its creativity, in makeup, lighting, and extending to photography. One of the possibilities now is to take the bold step of returning to that starting point in pursuit of the inner beauty that is characteristic of Shiseido, and I believe there are various other things that we can do going forward.

OgataOf course, there is no single correct answer. However, it is sometimes important to push forward bravely alone; without conviction, we would not be able to leave a mark in the hearts of those we are attempting to reach, in the positive sense. Even if Shiseido’s creators hold any preconceptions at the start, as long as they have a sense of self-awareness and self-confidence, even those who are working with Shiseido to create something from the perspective of an outside party, like myself, would be able to ride on their convictions.

OnoI’m someone who enjoys planning, and I believe that planning is everything in advertising. At the same time, I consider the new challenges mentioned earlier, as well as the pursuit of quality that is wholeheartedly adopted by people like Kawahara, to all broadly be part of the planning process. The blood of Shiseido definitely flows through our foundations, so I believe that whatever we do will turn out fine. It was wonderful to have had the opportunity to participate in this talk today.

KawaharaI have worked alongside Mr. Ono for a long time, but I believe that together with Ms. Ogata, the three of us will be able to create something interesting.

OnoIn fact, Ms. Ogata has been involved in Shiseido’s work for as long as 15 years, since she first started working. Maybe she has observed us from a fixed-point better than any others!

OgataI will be happy to work with you both if you ask me to!

Published in August 2016

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