--Shiseido has been a sponsor of the Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix every year since it started in 1983, and I understand that the corporate advertisement for this award was also published in the Mainichi Shimbun in 2017.
Hashiguchi：Yes. This was produced in collaboration with Yuima Nakazato, the fashion designer who received the Newcomer Award and Shiseido Sponsorship Award, with actor Masataka Kubota as the model, and the concept-making and copywriting undertaken by myself. After publication, the advertisement became a hot topic in social media, and the newspaper company received many enquiries requesting for copies of the publication. It was a good achievement.
--What was the production process like?
Hashiguchi：The very first thing that we did was to interview Mr. Nakazato. I spoke to him together with the art directors, and a direction emerged through the communication. Mr. Nakazato puts much effort into designing apparel based on the philosophy of "creating one-of-a-kind item for everyone," and this resonated strongly with what we do at Shiseido.
In modern times, with their diversification of values, people will not pay the least attention if we were to present, unilaterally, ideas such as "This is the ideal beauty" or "This is the answer." To begin with, no one believes anymore that a single, unified answer exists. I think this is something that many people experience for themselves these days, even if they do not express it in words.
We felt that Shiseido, which has continued to examine the concept of beauty, should consider and communicate the approach towards beauty going forward, taking into account this historical backdrop. As Mr. Nakazato's designs are not uniform, but rather, create an anticipation of a future where we can enjoy each individual's own beauty, we wanted to make Shiseido's advertisement, which supports his vision, something that affirms the future. In view of that, we came up with the concept "Towards a future where everyone can enjoy their own beauty." I came up with the draft copy for the advertisement in line with this concept.
--I feel a very strong sense of power from the actual copy that was published. The impression created was of something being thrown straight into the center.
Hashiguchi：In much of my everyday work, I come up with the concept based on the brand's worldview or the marketing strategy and apply the concept into copies for advertising communications. This time, we interviewed Mr. Nakazato without having any preconceptions, and the creative team completed the entire process of expanding on the ideas. Hence, it was free and liberating in a certain sense, and I think it gave me the opportunity to tackle a challenge that was very different from my everyday work.
I received some kind words of praise from the art director, who commented, "This was not merely a tagline. I felt that it was a message." My intention is to incorporate a message into every copy that I create, no matter how short it is, but it appears that this message had been particularly striking for this project. Even in social media, there were people who conveyed their positive feelings about this copy, so I felt that perhaps I had managed to create something that stirs the thoughts and affects the behavior of those who read it.
--Usually, when you are writing copies, what do you pay attention to?
Hashiguchi：When I first became a copywriter, looking back now in hindsight, I had probably only been scratching the surface of the words. My main focus had been on how I could use words to make the products appear more attractive. However, through my involvement in various projects, I now feel that the most important aspect lies in the fundamentals.
--What do you mean by the "fundamentals?"
Hashiguchi：We could also call it "values." Let us take, for example, a lipstick with several features such as "cares for lips," "moisturizing," and "provides cover for dullness." Assume that we have described this as a "lipstick with many functions." This description is vague about the core values of the product, and makes the consumer think "Somehow, it seems to be a good product, but there is no reason for me to buy it."
If we do not have a solid foundation for determining which of the values of the product to place the spotlight on in the communications, regardless of how we spruce it up with words, the consumer will not be able to get a sense of the product's unique appeal that differentiates it from other products.
--In other words, "what" you express is more important than "how" it is expressed. In ascertaining that, what do you place great importance on?
Hashiguchi：I always place great importance on whether or not I am able to present the consumer with some sort of discovery or happiness; it was the same when I was writing the copy for the Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix. For example, discoveries such as "It is good to have this product in my life" or "It would be wonderful if every day in my life could be like this," a feeling of shared empathy such as "I understand, that is precisely it! I wanted you to say that," or the simple and pure feeling of being happy.
A copywriter is ultimately an advertising copywriter; we are neither poets nor artists. That is why the "subject to be advertised" is the core that is absolutely indispensable to us. Yet, if our copies were to describe only that subject, consumers would pay no attention, and the advertisement would soon be forgotten. Since we take up the precious time of our consumers, even if just for a few seconds, we hope the copy will make them feel glad to have seen the advertisement.
--That is to say, precisely because you are a copywriter, you wish to write something that moves someone's heart.
Hashiguchi：That's right. Looking at the reactions on social media for this project, I felt anew that I really enjoy being a copywriter. If the entire process consisted only of self-examination of something that I had produced, I do not think I will write even a single word. I think I am able to craft the copies precisely because there is someone out there who will read them.
--The contents of this copy affirm the natural beauty of everyone. Did you also keep in mind the issues of LGBT and gender differences, for which there is growing awareness among the public these days?
Hashiguchi：Partially so, but I also used the problems that are closer to the individual, rather than to the society, as my starting point. I wanted to convey the message of gently releasing individuals from the seemingly trivial issues that bother them, such as "If I were just a few centimeters taller, the clothes I want would fit me well" or "If only my nose were a little higher."
--Did you put much care into deciding on the order of the words?
Hashiguchi：If anything, I struggled with deciding on which words to use in the copy. Sex and the color of the skin are often raised as problems, but I felt that topics such as weight or the size of one's eyes are not often talked about. Yet, these are the things that I am concerned about as well, and I felt that there were probably others who felt the same way.
--In the end, the copy turned out longer than a usual copy, didn't it?
Hashiguchi：I felt that too. I thought that it was irregular (laughs). When I presented it internally, I predicted that someone would suggest making it shorter, but I did not receive that feedback from anyone. I also presented a shorter version of the copy at the same time, but in the end, everyone was unanimous to adopt the final copy that you see.
As I build up experience as a copywriter, I have increasingly begun to reject the things that I write on my own, with thoughts such as "Perhaps it is too long," "Perhaps it does not communicate the message," or "This is probably not usable." However, I have realized anew that the first thing I should do is to clearly propose a draft that I feel provides the closest solution to the assigned task.
--Through this project, did you find any other challenges you would like to tackle in the future?
Hashiguchi：To what extent can we create new values and communicate them in this era, which is overflowing with things and information? That is the challenge I want to tackle moving forward. I would like to propose new ways of thinking and ways of life that do not exist in the world yet, and create something that can bring consumers discoveries that add positively to their lives.