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Creativity flies with Japan’s Birdman

Tokyo, August 24th, 2016

Roy-Ryo-Tsukiji---Profile---TIAJapanese interactive design agency BIRDMAN, truly lets its imagination go sky high when it comes to creating brand experiential projects. A literal example of this is its Flying Shoe Store, to promote Crocs’ ultra light urban wear ‘Norlin.’ Held last year, the event invited customers to choose their trainers on a touch screen at the store and wait with amazement to get the chosen pair delivered to their hands by a helicopter drone. This demonstrated the show lightness first hand and attracted a huge media interest.

BIRDMAN’s most recent project was linked to the Olympics. Working with BBH Singapore, Jack Morton WW and Party NY for Nike, the company produced a large-scale running court shaped as a 100 metre Lunarepic trainer footprint or an infinity symbol. The infinity symbol is significant given that the campaign tag line is ‘Unlimited Unleashed.’ BIRDMAN created an unlimited stadium.

The event opened on August 4th promoting Nike’s Lunarepic Low Flyknit in Manila. Runners wanting to participate have to ware RFID tagged trainers. The tracking on the trainers is then synced to the 200 metres LED screens installed around the court.

Fusing the virtual and physical world, a ghost/avatar of the runner is created on the LED screen and the competitors virtually run against themselves.

Up to 30 runners can participate at any one time. The project is very popular and doesn’t seem to be slowing down, with waiting lists for keen runners wanting to participate on the coming events.

After learning about these examples, one is not surprised to find that the Tokyo agency has won over 150 awards across the world including silver at Cannes Lions, gold at One Show, 2 at Dentsu Advertising Award, Grand Prix at Code Award, gold at ADFEST, and silver at Spikes Asia.

We spoke to Roy Ryo Tsukiji, CEO and Creative Director to find out more about what s the secret of BIRDMAN’s success. He opened his conversation by saying “Our motto is to challenge ourselves to create something no one has ever experienced before.” And this is also his definition of creativity.

In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful digital campaign?

Key is to work closely with the PR team. PR team are so important for the campaign to get buzz, so we work with PR team from the planning stage. Our goal is to get our projects on mass media with no media costs.


How did you get started in the industry?

I was a graphic designer, and I entered this digital interactive industry when I met ‘Macromedia Flash’ 15 years ago.

Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?

I follow technological online media like “Tech Insider” and “Gizmodo”. I also follow “The FWA” to follow the trend for the webs. In-fact, Birdman is the Japanese company with most FWA awards.

I follow and admire Elon Musk, who I think is the most creative and challenging man of these times.

Which cities outside where you live interest you creatively?

New York City. We are currently planning to establish Birdman NY this year.

Please list a few of your favourite digital brands:

Apple. Tesla Motors.

What do you like doing in your free time?

On my free time I like net surfing, watching movies, or going to campaign. But mostly I like to spend the time playing with my four-year-old son. I really don’t want to miss the moment of my kid growing up.

Name a challenge your team is currently facing

We are always facing challenges. We try to avoid doing things that we’ve already done before, so we challenge ourselves every time we undertake a new project.

Can you tell us about a campaign you worked on that was especially successful?

The Crocs – Flying Shoe Store. This was a very successful campaign. The event featured on every major TV stations in Japan and overseas. Over 500 articles were published about it before and during the event – with no media cost.

We made this happen by creating things that people have never seen before using technology and ingenuity. And we were able to achieve the brand’s objectives by working closely with PR team from the planning stage.

In your opinion, what is a digital trend that is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future?

It’s probably obvious, but VR is a hot trend. I was so excited when I experienced a VR game for the first time. Play station VR is coming out this year and it will expand the whole of the interactive experience.

I would really want to experience Zero Latency immersive VR some time soon.

Where do you see the future of the industry?

This is the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). All objects are soon going to be connected to the Internet. At the same time people are going to get connected physically through their devices. This expansion of interconnectivity makes interactive industry’s possibilities limitless.

In the near future there will be fewer adverts, and experience-based projects will become mainstream. This will need to include products and services development.

What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital marketing?

Don’t limit your ability (work) to your job title. If you are a designer, you should know what you can do with technologies. At the same time, programmers need to learn what they can do with designs. Job titles don’t really matter. You can do anything.


By Geny Caloisi.

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