Becoming a creative hybrid – Tokyo Memoirs Chapter 5: Otaku Culture Hack

The  fifth post in my “becoming a creative hybrid memoirs” series, describing my experiences growing Alien-Eye, a hybrid creative company in Tokyo which I co-founded in 2004. This chapter covers a period from 2008~11 or so, and explains the success of a long running campaign that hacked into a rich vein of Japanese culture on behalf of an international technology brand. The entire “Tokyo Memoirs” series is collected here. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Our next big endeavor led to our biggest "culture hack" to date, where we tapped into a deep furrow of Japanese entertainment culture, to rejuvenate a tiring brand in the Japanese market place, helping it reclaim top spot in an increasingly crowded market place. Norton, the security software company, had been a pioneer in the first … [Read more...]

The Japanese advertising industry in a nutshell

In this article I try to unravel one of the marketing industry’s most enduring mysteries: why Japanese ad agencies have succeeded in holding on to such a dominant position in the Japanese market, despite all the efforts of the major global agency networks. I believe the answer lies in a fundamental difference between Japanese and western audiences and the models the agencies use to approach them. (A new follow up to this post can be read here) The western agencies' strategy paradigm I entered the advertising industry off the back of 4 years studying physics at Oxford University, so I was more than a little predisposed to reductionist theories. I was therefor relieved to find a rational framework for solving communication problems, loosely referred to as  the ‘account planning … [Read more...]

Growth Hacking for brands and how to grow a hybrid team

I was recently interviewed for a Japanese creative industry magazine "Project Design" to talk about the relevance of "Growth Hacking" (Japanese article here), the approach to growing web and mobile startups that has come to prominence in recent years, to established and non-web businesses. I was interviewed in Japanese, but wrote up the main threads of the conversation in English below. First of all though some context. Why was I being interviewed about Growth Hacking? I have been a involved a lot with startups one way or another. I have had numerous startups as clients over the years, companies with a good product-market-fit for Japan for whom my company has effectively been the growth team for the Japan market. Also through my role as a mentor for 500 Startups, Silicon Valley's top … [Read more...]

A blog about nurturing hybrid culture

Image: A broccoli x cauliflower hybrid sold in Japan  Welcome to my new blog! Why now? I have been writing pretty regularly over the years, some of which has been going up on line, but most of it never gets out of my Evernotes. I have been feeling a mounting inner pressure recently to get more of it out in the open to start some dialogues and share ideas with others. One excuse I was using to not get a blog going with regular updates was the fact someone else owned, so once I got hold of this domain I had no excuse to not get it together. I have also been piecing together the knowledge required to set up and run a blog like this one from scratch so I can be totally self sufficient. I have been frustrated by not being in control of my own publishing before and so … [Read more...]