monopo Tokyo
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monopo Tokyo

2018 Young Lions Japan competition Review — Media Division Gold Winners / Yoshi and Mélanie

The Young Lions Competition, which is often referred to as “Young Lions”, as well as the Young Spikes Competition, is said to be the gateway into the advertising industry for young individuals. In 2018, monopo team members were nominated as a Media Division Gold candidate and a Design Division Finalist.

This year, Yoshi Sasaki (CEO/Producer) and Mélanie Hubert (Art Director) were selected to be the representatives for Japan in the Media Division — here are their thoughts!

What is Young Lions?

The Young Lions Competition is said to be the gateway into the advertising industry for young individuals. The international advertising festival known as Cannes Lions, hosts an official competition targeting advertising professionals under 30. One team of two representatives from each country participates, and based off a prompt given by the host, the team submits a video or proposal, sometimes a presentation, within the time frame and competes to win either Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

At Cannes Lions, team members who participated last year

This year, two individuals from our company who received Gold at Young Cannes in the Media Division will be representing Japan at the finals at Cannes Lions: Our CEO Yoshi and Mélanie who joined monopo in 2016 after working at a London agency.

When listening to their stories, for them it wasn’t just about developing a unique idea, but I was able to understand that it was also about incorporating their own backgrounds and experiences.

“My aim was to develop a simple and strong idea” -Yoshi

ー Please tell me your thoughts on representing Japan at the Cannes finals!

Left: Yoshiyuki Sasaki, Right: Mélanie Hubert

Mélanie: I couldn’t believe it! But so happy! Winning gold among so many talented teams from all over Japan was something that sound impossible to me. It is the most important prize I ever received and I’m very proud to represent Japan in Cannes this year. This is definitely an achievement in my career.

— What was the prompt, and what kinds of ideas did you come up with?

Yoshi: Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for arounf 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. But a small change in behaviour can mean a big change for the planet. The prompt was: how do you get households to change their old light bulbs into LED lights?

Our idea was to partner with PokemonGO to raise awareness of the consequences of energy consumption: “What if Pokemon were going extinct and the only way to save them is to switch to LED?”. The PokemonGo users start to receive alert notifications: many pokemon are in danger of extinction and become more and more rare.

Then, we send notifications to the players: “Switch to LED to save Pokemon”. We use an existing function of the game: the poke-stops and we update them with a new layer. They can now be switched from incandescent bulbs to LED. By doing this and with the efforts of all the players, we save Pokemon from global warming and they start coming back to the game.

We wanted to show the consequences of global warming that happens in the real world through the digital world of Pokemon that everybody knows.

We also supplemented our strategy to include an audience other than just game users through media partnership and micro-site, and also designed the campaign to involve real companies and organizations registered in the spots linked to the game location information.

“If I were the client, would there be value in investing in this idea?” -Yoshi

— What kinds of preparation was necessary to develop a winning idea?

Yoshi: It’s a bit unfair but because the prompt was the same for all divisions this year, we submitted our prompt to several divisions, haha. In the beginning, we were pushing our proposal for the PR Division, but there was not much active public participation and no points of debate and discussion, so at the last minute we extended our proposal to submit to the Media Department.

In addition, we consulted with our seniors at Dentsu or friends who have previously won the competition to develop our own rules for the competition.

Photo by Andrew Neel for Unsplash

A. What is the idea, and when you explain it, can you have it easily fit the statement: ____ will accomplish ____.

→ The judges receive a lot of submissions, so they are probably also very tired. It’s my belief that an idea that’s easily understandable is strong.

B. Is your interpretation of the brief expanding upon the prompt?

→ Figuring out how to get households to change to LED lights is not interesting at all. I always try to reframe the brief as a story that will touch on emotion and make people want to get involved. For this case, I concentrated not on how to change to LEDs, but to save with LEDs. The character everyone is trying to save is a character everyone knows. The enemy is global warming. And this is the story I tried to create.

C. Is it a campaign that will bring about more players?

→ Is the players’ ability to participate too narrow? Using some target action as the hook, it’s crucial to leave some margin so more players can join as the campaign expands. For example, is there some sort of system where not only game users, but also media and non-users can get involved? Are there big enough margins so big corporations or organizations can get involved? This is what I check for.

D. A balance of astonishing surprises and incentive design

→ I learned this from my former senior at Dentsu, who I have the utmost respect for. It seems that there are only two reasons which make people take action. For this case, I took careful attention towards balancing between the iconic shock that is the character’s extinction and the user incentive that the more LEDs there are, the more rare characters are restored.

E. Is there value to invest in this?

→ I am an investor, so if I’m the client, I always check what the cost is and what the return is at the end. For this case, I decided that the cost was overwhelmingly cheap because it’s only a matter of changing a bit of the original material and features and developing a press release for it. While preserving the worldview of Niantic and the characters in it, we appealed widely towards the iconic Ingress technology, and developed an appeal strategy to bring in a lot of active users.

— After winning the proposal component of the preliminaries, there was the final presentation component, but what kind of preparation did you do for it?

Yoshi: Because monopo has a lot of employees fluent in English, I practiced my presentation in front of them, held a Q/A session with them, gathered more possible questions via Google Form, and prepared for any possible response.

Mélanie: It was actually a lot of work and questioning to find the clearest way to present the idea so it looks easy to understand. We managed to do this in front of the jury so it’s a big achievement for me!

— What is something special about your design?

Mélanie: We managed to find an impactful idea that we can explain very simply: “Pokemon are going extinct, the only way way to save them is to switch to LED”, so I was very happy about that. This is always the most important and also the most difficult. But once we developed the idea, we also had the risk to water-down the concept but we managed to stay strong and simple with the main idea!

“I don’t come from an advertising background, but I’m glad I participated in Young Lions!” ” -Mélanie

— This is Yoshi’s fourth time participating, and Mélanie’s first time participating, but why did you two decide to participate this year?

Yoshi: This is already my fourth attempt at the competition, and only once in the past have I made it to the finals for the Japan preliminaries… even within monopo, other members have gotten Silver or Bronze and to be honest, I was becoming very anxious.

Mélanie: Actually yes it was my first time to apply to Young Lions competition! As I came from a digital production background, I always thought this competition was mostly for advertising creatives. But when I met Yoshi, he asked me if I would like to team-up with him and convinced me this competition was open for everybody. As we have very different skills and background, we are a very complementary team and it was a great set-up to try the competition! I realised that winning at Young Lions was very good for monopo’s reputation and this was my main motivation to prove our creativity to the creative industry!

— Please tell me about your favorite advertisement this year

Yoshi: Mine would be Adidas’ “Odds” campaign. “Odds” is Adidas’ first para-athlete advertisement, and what I really like about it is instead of showcasing the usual right-left pair of shoes, they sold them in pairs of two right shoes or two left shoes, a very simple yet strong message.

Odds by Adidas

Mélanie: To me the ad of the year so far is the video “Welcome Home” made by Spike Jonze for Apple. The concept is really awesome and innovative and everybody talked about it. It shows that advertising can be art and become an iconic piece!

Welcome Home by Spike Jonze for Apple

Thank you very much!




monopo is a design-driven creative agency based in Tokyo, offering digital experiences, branding, advertising and video production services.

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monopo Tokyo

monopo Tokyo

monopo is a design-driven creative agency based in Tokyo, offering digital experiences, branding, advertising and video production services.

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