Brand SHISEIDO began 2018 with the global launch of Essential Energy - a new skincare series inspired by neuroscience. We sat down with Dimitrios Petsas (Global Creative Director) and Yu Miura (Co-Creative Director) to discuss the campaign.
Please tell us more about Essential Energy.
Miura: In a survey conducted by Shiseido, we learned that women in their thirties begin to doubt the effectiveness of skincare products. Essential Energy is a skincare series developed for such women, with the neuroscience-inspired 'ReNeura Technology' at its core.
Dimitrios: Essential Energy is based on the concept of 'rebooting' skin's sensors - reawakening them and making skin more responsive to skincare.
When did the promotional campaign begin?
Miura: We held a launch event at the start of November last year. We invited influencers and members of the press from around the world to our head office in Ginza.
Dimitrios: At the same time, we held an event in New York for beauty editors and dermatologists. The response was fantastic.
Miura: We wanted to approach this campaign differently. We moved away from traditional media such as TV and print, and designed a 360-degree communication plan that included every possible consumer touch point, including digital content and in-store promotions.
Dimitrios: We created assets specific to each step of the consumer journey. From social-first, interest arousing films, to more in-depth, educational content for use in-store and online. Even with such a wide range of assets, our overall aim is that all communication functions as a single ecosystem.
Miura: For the more educational films, we wanted to communicate stories related to the products, rather than focusing on the products themselves. For example, we produced videos about the packaging from the angle of strengthening the bond between user and product. In terms of physical touch points, we created counters and produced in-store events to allow consumers to experience the brand and products firsthand.
This campaign, with such a diverse range of assets rolled-out almost simultaneously around the world, could be described as the largest in Shiseido history.
I understand that this campaign is also the first project by Team 101, Shiseido's new creative group.
Miura: Yes. We formed Team 101 in order to execute such consistent communication projects. Team 101 is a collection of specialists from a range of creative fields: communication, space, and packaging. We named the group "Team 101" as it was formed last year - exactly 101 years since the founding of Shiseido's Creative Department.
Team 101 has defined "THE SOUL OF SHISEIDO" as its guiding principle, with the aim of carrying out consistent communication and building a consistent brand identity by 2020. Going forward, communication for the entire brand will be led by Team 101.
What led to the establishment of Team 101 last year?
Miura: These days, it is difficult to move and inspire the world with just one poster. Instead, it is vital to look at the full consumer journey - just as we did with the Essential Energy campaign - and create a communication strategy to reach consumers at various touch points. That's why we put together Team 101, so that professionals from their respective fields can be fully engaged in the work while moving forward in the same creative direction.
It's also important to note that communication within the team is carried out in English. In building a global campaign that spans different countries and cultures, we feel it is very important to switch from thinking in Japanese to thinking in English.
Dimitrios: Team 101 was also established with the aim of making Shiseido even more of a global player, especially as we approach 2020. It has been one and a half years since I joined Shiseido, and back then, I was the only foreigner in the Ginza office. Since the launch of Team 101, the number of non-Japanese employees has increased, and I feel that the mindset of our Japanese creatives is becoming more international. As our non-Japanese members learn more about Japan and our Japanese members learn more about the world, I think we are becoming a much more global-minded organization.
How did you ensure the Essential Energy campaign would be globally accepted?
Miura: Rather than drawing attention to the products themselves, we placed focus on conveying our worldview and aesthetic sense, and aimed to achieve high-level communication that goes beyond the boundaries of countries and cultures. As the copy is often adapted to a number of languages, we drew up guidelines for translation.
Dimitrios: When we work with translators, I always tell them to "transcreate" rather than translate. The ideal copy is one that builds fully on the philosophy of "THE SOUL OF SHISEIDO," while also fitting the culture of respective regions.
For this campaign, you worked with actress Sonoya Mizuno, who recently starred in the hit movie La La Land. Why did you decide to cast her?
Miura: The concept of "THE SOUL OF SHISEIDO" is to create an image that is unique to our brand by combining art and beauty - beauty not on the surface, but from within. We felt that Sonoya-san was a perfect match for such a concept. Going forward, we plan to continue collaborating with various artists.
Dimitrios: The fact that our target consumers are millennials also had an impact on the selection of Sonoya-san. She is a millennial herself, and she possesses the core strength and inner beauty that resonate so well with women of her generation.
Miura: I think it's important for artists to be themselves in campaigns like this. We worked closely with Sonoya-san to ensure she was able to express her true self. We began the production process by clearly communicating the philosophy of "THE SOUL OF SHISEIDO," not only to Sonoya-san, but also to everyone involved in the campaign.
Was there anything in particular that stood out about Sonoya-san?
Dimitrios: When I asked her what comes to mind when she hears the word Shiseido, she answered, "Japan." Not "beauty" or "cosmetics," but "Japan." When I heard this, I realized we are doing something right in terms of branding. Japanese-ness is a key aspect of everything we do, and I think that can be seen in all of our recent work.
How does this Japanese-ness fit into your work?
Dimitrios: If you look at the copy used on the Essential Energy visuals, we incorporated a very emotional message into the headline, but took a more functional approach to the body copy. Like Japan, it's about finding balance. Japan is a country that strikes a perfect balance between the composed and the extreme. We also try to incorporate a sense of Ma in all of our work, a concept that is characteristic to the Japanese arts.
Miura: I like to think of Ma as the beauty of blank space.
Dimitrios: We are one of very few organizations utilizing an in-house creative team. In order to strengthen Team 101 and help take Shiseido forward as a truly global brand, we must look to this Japanese-ness in everything we do.