“Campaigns should be objective- driven and not data-driven”

While a marketing focus is important for ad agencies engaged in brand-building, it’s even more imperative that they foster creativity, says Yasuharu Sasaki

82-2How many people with a computer science background take to advertising? Well, Yasuharu Sasaki, who has spent more than a decade and a half at Dentsu and who took over the reins of Executive Creative Director at Dentsu, New York, in October 2012, is not just well versed in interactive design and programming, but also an expert in the creative space and an ace at copy-writing. Sasaki’s forte also extends to exploring new creative frontiers for his clients, which include Honda, Lenovo, Kirin Brewery et al. Passionate about hybrid arts, digital architecture, interactive product design, Sasaki has won prestigious awards like Creator of the Year, Cannes Lions to name a few. In a brief interaction with 4Ps B&M, he talks about the future of advertising, what it means being a creative person, and what place does creativity have in the advertisement arena.

As an advertising professional, which of these do you think is most important for fostering a creative culture in an agency: creative process, creative person or creative situation?

Out of the three I think having a creative person is the most important for an agency to go for. It has the highest potential for engendering creativity out of the three. For instance, a creative process can’t replace a creative person or situation. Similarly, a creative situation – even while being an important factor – can’t drive a creative process or person. But a creative person can be counted on to drive both.

What do you think contributes more to brand building – following a creative or marketing focus?

Marketing can contribute to short-term brand building. It quickly and effectively catches the target and gets the result. However, opting for the creative push is important for long-term brand building. It can make people fall in love with the brand and can create a strong and long-term engagement. If people love the brand they will buy the product even if it is more expensive than the others.

But doesn’t marketing play an important role for a brand to break out into levels of higher success?

Lately, people are too much obsessed and focused on marketing data (number of followers, number of daily purchases, number of access, etc…). Of course, data is important, but it is just a tool to evaluate the success, not the objective. A lot of campaigns are focused on immediate and short-term goals due to their short-sightedness. They are only engaged in accumulating traffic and hits, which will eventually ruin our industry. In my view, any campaign or ad should be objective-driven and not data-driven.

So what do you think holds the key to the making of a successful ad campaign?

According to me, creating unique experiences that people will fall in love with, having a human touch, and being flexible and engaging are some of the key elements that make a campaign successful. Getting into people’s lives, putting ourselves into their shoes and addressing the complications of their daily lives in order to make them feel at ease is what I think are the requirements of the times. If any advertisement succeeds in touching human lives, the audeinces will love it.

Digital has emerged as the big platform for ads. How do you see it evolving in the long run?

Digital will not remain the same over the long run. Gradually we will see a lot many changes occurring in the digital space. It will be more physical, tangible, and will have the human touch, which is expected to evolve.

In August 2012, Dentsu collaborated with Taproot India Communication Private Limited (acquiring 51% stake in Taproot). How will this alliance benefit Denstu and vice-versa?

Taproot is a great agency and I’m thrilled to collaborate with them! When two such agencies join hands, there is ample amount of exchange of ideas and views, which enhances learning. Therefore, this collaborative effort will definitely produce something of greater quality. With Taproot’s creativity, Dentsu Network can offer stronger services to the global clients.

While on the issue of collaboration a recent media report said that over 60 different ad agencies have created more and more different versions of the Herlem Shake videos. What do you think of such collaboration and kind of purpose does it solve?

Being a creative person, I personally like these kind of ‘collaborative’ activities – a netizen culture. Activities like the Herlem Shake videos will be one of the trends from now onwards. However, I would like to be the first person to create such videos, instead of being a follower.

Ad agencies launch a thousand brands through their campaigns and communications. What’s Dentsu’s communication philosophy?

Good innovation, ideas that reach beyond the imaginable, technology that crosses the bounds of possibilities, entrepreneurship that surpasses the expectations is what we live with.

Amongst Dentsu’s recent and upcoming advertisement campaigns, which one do you think stands out and why?

I like the “Uniqlo Dry Mesh Project”. I worked with Firstborn, one of the digital agencies of Dentsu Network, for this project. Keeping rest of the elements on the backburner, I wanted to try a new way of “brand building” in the digital age. Hence I worked in close association with Firstborn, where we created an integrated digital campaign for the two time NBA champion, Dwyane Wade’s ‘fantasy camp’. Through this campaign, we have highlighted Dwyane Wade’s dedication to fatherhood.

What are Dentsu’s expectations from the Indian market?

India has a great potential to change the entire Asian market. The current trends also demonstrate that India has a great potential to change the use of media. The country is expecting a huge rise in the number of digital and Internet users, and new ways of digital creativity that can change the world.

Can you share with us the background of your mobile marketing platform iButterfly India?

iButterfly was created and developed in Tokyo three years ago. It turned out to be a highly successful and innovative application at that time, but we need to evolve iButterfly as a marketing and promotional tool for clients again. We are looking for the best place to re-launch that, and I believe Asian markets are the best places where iButterfly can benefit immensely.

Where do you think is advertising headed and how do you see it evolving in the future?

I think advertising will become invisible, like air. In other words, advertising will be everywhere and people will always breathe it without noticing it. Using celebrities to make sales points appealing through TV will not work in the long haul. People need a brand which they can associate with and which turns out to be useful and helpful. In times to come, advertising will not merely be just about information, rather it will be about creating an environment that people will identify with.