AME's Grand Jury members are award-winners themselves and they bring their years of industry experience and strategic expertise to the judging panel. Their global reputaton as innovators and their ability to deliver distinctive and effective results for global brands ensure that the entries they judge are reviewed with attention and with an international perspective of industry standards and trends.
2021 Grand Jury member Shingo Suzuki is Associate Brand Strategy Director for Publicis Group Japan. He brings years of experience to the jury panel having worked at numerous prominent International agencies including (then) Beacon Communications/Leo Burnett Tokyo (now Publicis Groupe Japan), Wunderman, and HAVAS before joining ADK to pursue his career as a Strategic Planner. Clients that he served include Marlboro by Philip Morris, Air France, Chivas Regal, Citroen, GlaxoSmithKline, Peugeot, Microsoft, Pfizer, Perfetti Van Melle etc.
He believes that it is Strategic Planners’ job to not only provide the solutions to the issues/problems that clients may have but also to expand their businesses by focusing on creating “0=>1” than to over focus on pursuing “1=>n”, and also believes in the possibilities of the mixture of “Digital (data included)” and “Creativity”.
In the interview below Shingo explores the evolution of brand positioning, values, and tone of voice during Covid-19, innovations that are changing the way agencies create on behalf of brands, what attributes he recognizes in award-winning effective work and more.
AME Awards: As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative effective advertising?
Shingo Suzuki: I personally feel that those award-winning creative effective advertising (communications and campaigns included) are often “mission-driven”. That is, not only do these communications/campaigns become the answers to those given business issues/problems (whatever they maybe) by the clients but they were also created for the whole category that the clients are in. It is often these communications/campaigns that would highlight the issues or problems that the society has, and these become the conversation starter among the consumers. An essential phenomenon such as this can only occur when brands set their goals to not only meet their own short-term business goal but also to set the goal that would help solve the issues/problems that the whole category that they are in has or the whole society has.
AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?
Shingo Suzuki: There are number of awards/competitions that end up - more or less- simply recognizing or celebrating creativity for creativity sake, which I personally do not necessarily believe that they are completely off the point however on the other hand competitions that focus on effectiveness such as AME Awards are absolutely essential to our industry as they highlight the true values and solutions that are proven to work that agencies provide to the clients.
AME Awards: How has the brand’s voice changed since the pandemic confinement measures? Speak to the evolution of brand positioning, values, and tone of voice during COVID.
Shingo Suzuki: Many brands around the world are no strangers to crisis management and so were brands in Japan. That being said, the global scale and on-going uncertainty around Covid-19 is something that none of us had ever experienced before. Brands (along with their agencies) around the world must have faced a multitude of trials and difficulties/challenges in order to find their own ways to communicate in this unprecedented time or moment.
I believe that this is one of Japanese characteristics, but it can be extremely sensitive when brands communicate or even mention a hint of issue that is not directly related to what those brands primarily do. For instance, a Japanese car manufacturer brand would make its comment or communicate about a tragedy that had occurred such as earthquake. What would then happen is that the consumers would react in various ways and as a result, that brand could end up being criticized as some consumers believe that they should only stick to what they know (ie: manufacturing cars…). This is an extreme case however the point is that this does happens here in Japan and hence many Japanese brands become extremely cautious and tend to remain silent when it comes to communicating about this kind of topic (Covid-19 included). That being said, while some brands remained silent there were brands out there that responded with meaningful approaches to provide consumers a reason to believe that we will all get through this unprecedent crisis together.
I personally believe that the brands’ voices had not necessarily changed since the pandemic, but they became clearer instead. This can be said to their brand positioning, values and tone of voice as well. Let’s look at NIKE (ie: “Never too far down, you can’t stop us”) and Apple (ie: “Creativity goes on”) for example. The essences of their communications during pandemic were not so different to what they had always been communicating in the past. That is, their communications during the pandemic well reflected their core values that those brands already had as their DNA and that is why those communications did not annoy us (by being artificial or unnatural) or pressed the tear gland but simply reached our hearts naturally and many of us could relate and resonate to their messages spontaneously.
AME Awards: What innovations are changing the way agencies create on behalf of brands or launch new products? Does big data and AI play an even bigger role today?
Shingo Suzuki: Agencies are now able to predict consumer behavior and personalize their experience by analytics provided by big data. From a strategic planner’s POV, we can now have ever more accurate insights using data that can be provided to the creative team for them to create relevant output in order to meet the required business goal.
I am personally interested in more technologies being used in marketing and one example of this is the depth profiling system based on the quantum mechanics which does not only catalog answers but also dimensionalizes them to clarify the thoughts that drive consumers’ preferences on the subconscious level.
AME Awards: What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads (share the link or a visual) and why in your opinion did they triumph?
Shingo Suzuki: Microsoft – “Changing The Game” (by McCann - US)
WHY: No clearer way to show Microsoft’s mission and vision of “Empowering others” – to empower every person and every organizations on the planet to achieve more. An amazing work by Microsoft and McCann US.
VOLVO – E.V.A Initiative (by Forsman & Bodenfors - Sweden)
WHY: What Volvo (and Forsman & Bodenfors) did here absolutely made a huge contribution to the whole car industry. Volvo did not do this for themselves but did it for the whole car industry (worldwide) and for the whole society.
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) – Future cuisine IBUKI (by ADK – Japan)
WHY: No better way to raise the awareness of the global warming and what it can actually mean for us in our very own lives in our everyday level. ADK and JAXA absolutely did a fantastic work.