Yesterday I met with the guys from TYO Interactive Design. We took over the upstairs meeting room and had a lovely mutual show and tell over some iced coffee. In the meeting were Takashi Sugimoto, (Senior Administrator) – who very kindly organised the afternoon, Issaku Masuda (Creative Director), Yukiya Shimba (Creative Director), Yuko Nishimura (Art Director), Natsuko Nodomi (Designer), Kurumi Honda (Designer), Junichi Saito (Project Manager) and Captain Kero.
TYO-ID are a team of 35, with 15 creatives and about 4 Flash developers. In general they work as a team of rostered digital agencies for the 2 largest advertising groups in Japan – Dentsu and Hakuhodo. Their clients include Pepsi Nex, Mercedes, and Sony. They also work directly with clients such as H&M and NHK – Japan’s national broadcaster – Captain Kero is a regional reporter created by TYO (the client didn’t ask for a character but they got one as a labour of love thrown in with the project, “Kero” is the sound a frog makes in Japanese). We very quickly got around to mobile technology (Japanese phones have Flash.. listen up iPhone) and I learned that while the agencies themselves are not pushing these technologies as there is more profit in traditional platforms the clients are driving the demand. We all talked of a utopian world where campaigns were integrated across all media but here, like everywhere, it doesn’t often happen.
We also discussed free pitching (only when direct to client and not very often – it’s a competitive market in Japan but there is generally enough work to go round to avoid it), working hours (11am to 9 or 10pm ), Awards (Cannes Lions and Tokyo Interactive Awards are the big ones here), CMSs (The nature of the promotional sites that they do doesn’t often call for it but they have plugged into clients existing systems and are increasingly using Flash Air and Moveable Type.)
It was a really interesting and enjoyable afternoon, spent with a group of people clearly excited by the work they do and the people they do it with. My favourite discovery of the day was that the Japanese have so embraced QR codes (the better-than-barcode things you can scan with your phone to get more info about something) that people have taken to putting them on their gravestones… How. Good. Is. That?