2018 Young Lions Japan competition Review — Design Division Finalists / Kenta and Takuya
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 time, first-time Young Cannes participants Kenta Takahashi (Producer/Engineer) and Takuya Kenmoku (Art Director), were selected as finalists in the Design 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.
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.
“I was conscious of conveying a message that could surpass language or culture barriers” -Takuya
Only two years after graduating, Kenta and Takuya face their first competition. Although they couldn’t make it to the finals, just the fact that they were finalist in the Design Division is an occasion to celebrate, and I received insight on their thoughts!
— What was the prompt for this year’s Young Cannes?
Takuya: The prompt for this year’s Young Cannes was simply “What should I do to change the lights in my house to LED lights?
Kenta:As a response to that, our idea was “venerate past inventions yet recognize a need for new technology, and represent that with a signature”. The title is “RIP INNOVATION”. RIP is a backronym for “Rest in Peace” and to put it simply, it means “Innovation, rest peacefully”.
— What kind of idea is “RIP INNOVATION”?
Kenta: When considering energy or environmental issues, it is apparent that incandescent light bulbs and fluorescent lights should be converted to LEDs. But the fact that incandescent light bulb use is so widespread causes us to forget that it is that invention that allowed humankind to lead such enriched lives.
We decided to focus our spot on that point, and while respecting the invention of the incandescent light bulb, we wanted to develop a solution which would clearly indicate action using advancements in technology, yet still be fitting to modern times. The VI (visual identity) uses the wire filaments from incandescent bulbs as motifs for the introduction line, and by signing the introduction line, the sign becomes the filament and appears as an electric light bulb. Our choice not only reflects respect towards past inventions, but also indicates an advancement from old technology to new technology.
— What part of the design did you spend a lot of time on?
Takuya: Because we were first-time participants, we borrowed a bit of help from our superiors and did a lot of research on previous Cannes’ prompts. Within our research we found that it is a trend for international issues regardless of race or country to be the proposal problem at Young Cannes, so we referred to case studies on designs that addressed similar international issues.
As a normal worker, I am primarily just a citizen of Japan, but I believe that my field of vision has expanded since I’ve begun to design for problems that address some target issue that could help several people.
Furthermore, as languages and cultures differ, in order to have the same meaning resonate for a global audience, we had to thoroughly calculate what we included, and we needed it to iconic, which is why we made our main motif “A human (celebrity) signature”.
It was important to have the signature look as if a light bulb’s filament, and I am quite proud of this component of the design. Also, in addition to having the sign be recognized as a language, it could be recognized through shape, and I believe it was effective in addressing an international problem where language barriers may rise… but truth be told, I can’t prove how effective it actually was, haha.
“Because it was my first appearance, I just did a lot of research. It was a good lesson, having had to explore a wide range of ideas” -Kenta
— During the challenge, you’ve investigated a ton of past cases. What is the “winning idea” you two found?
Kenta: This year, unlike the usual annual Japan preliminaries, the question was the same for all divisions, so we just gave out a bunch of possible ideas, and ultimately we adjusted our best idea towards the most suitable division.
Takuya: I felt that the winning idea was considerably different between the main competition and the preliminaries. In the case of the Japan preliminaries, I had the impression that big, grand ideas were preferred.
— Besides “RIP INNOVATION”, what kinds of ideas did you two have?
Kenta: Because we were first-time participants this year, we thought it would be best to compete with sheer quantity. We did a lot of research on previous examples, analyzed the structure of ones we thought were well developed, didn’t narrow our idea down until the very last minute to leave our possibilities open, and allocated most of our time to developing a bunch of ideas. So our ideas were not limited to the Design Divisiont, but they picked up several components.
We focused on the fact that a commonly used icon to indicate ideas is an incandescent light bulb. There are a lot of icons that use legacy motifs around us, and we believed that having one would be a useful starting point. For example, the phone icon we see often is still the black phone, or the sound icon is the megaphone, or the search icon is the magnifying glass, the key is a padlock, the phone battery is the dry cell.
As a theme, we thought it would be interesting to develop further, but even if we were to develop a design which would acknowledge the issue, we faced the problem of identifying an incentive or motivation which would persuade people to change their behavior.
「Who is next Luxo Jr.」
This is not some idea we scrapped, but a proposal we actually submitted to the Digital Division.
This project is, “Pixar is recruiting. What they are recruiting is Luxo Jr.’s new light bulb”
The hook is a job at Pixar, there’s the character Luxo Jr. who is recognized globally across generations, and the expectation that the winning light bulb would be actually adopted in Luxo Jr — I thought it was a beautifully put together proposal, but unfortunately it didn’t win. To be honest, I was more confident in this design than the Design Division submission, haha.
In addition, because the problem was related to environmentalism, I wanted to expand that prompt to include the universe, planets, time, so on, and make this a very personal project, but that would’ve been way beyond my scope and capacity. Although, if I consulted with Jonathan Nolan, I may have been able to do it, haha.
— As a young employee, what is the motivation for participating in Young Cannes?
Kenta: I think it is a great place where people of similar levels in the same generation can compete, have your work be recognized by accomplished people, and hone your own skills.
In addition, because this is the first time I’m participating, I took a lot of time researching past award cases, regardless if they’re Cannes proposals or not, and I ended up learning a lot. After all, cases that were highly regarded in the past or well-developed proposals still today. I believe that participating in Young Cannes is a good opportunity because your output is evaluated and you can systematically organize and shape the knowledge and input you gain from the experience.
“Next year we’re definitely going to win!” — Takuya and Kenta
— Did you struggle with anything, your first duo competition?
Takuya: Not particularly! On a normal basis, we spend a lot of time together within the company, so getting on the same page with each other was easy. It was a lot easier to stay motivated when you can laugh together about it, so it was a really fun experience!
Oh, but Mr. Kenta, his hair is super long… it gives him such a distinct character. If we were to get Gold (first place at the Japan preliminaries), magazines and media outlets might want to interview us. I was pretty worried how I should establish my own character…not wanting to lose all the attention to Kenta……..
— Haha, well anyways, tell me what you hope for next year!
Takuya: Next year I’m definitely going to participate, and we’ll win. For things like these international competitions, when you win, people recognize your name, which is a huge motivation for me. I want to become that kind of person where my friends can brag to others that they know me. To put it simply, I want to become a really amazing person, so much so that my friends will tell others, “Hey, you know I’m actually friends with that Takuya?” hahaha. Because my friends have been supporting me throughout my life!
Kenta: In the advertising industry Cannes is the most famous competition, so I guess winning here would open a lot of doors and opportunities. I’m going to work hard so next year, I’ll be able to participate in the main competition. Although next year I think I might just go with Mélanie (who participated in the competition with our CEO Sasaki in the Media Division and won Gold), haha.
Text by Saki Ohashi (monopo intern)