Asia's most creative partnerships: SoftBank & Dentsu

Pepper is an unassuming robot that has taken the world by storm. This android, which uses AI to interact with people on an "emotional" level, has featured as an ambassador in telecoms and internet company SoftBank's ads and is now a familiar sight at its retail spaces across Japan. SoftBank credits Pepper with increasing customer visits to its stores by up to 150%.

It has also extended its brand by selling Pepper to other companies including Nestlé, which used it to help sell its Nescafé coffee brand in Japan.

SoftBank sees the droid as an important part of its marketing strategy: it’s a means of collecting valuable customer data in a way no human could hope to.

Pepper would not exist without Takashi Kobayashi, general manager of SoftBank’s ad division, and Dentsu creative director Takashi Sakuma. 

SoftBank designed the hardware and platform, while Dentsu worked on design elements related to character and behaviour. Kobayashi and Sakuma determined important policies such as "Pepper should always be ready for the unexpected" and "Pepper does not tell lies". It was a painstaking process over two-and-a-half years.

Dentsu is increasingly involved in product design and aims to make this a much bigger part of its activities.

Takashi Kobayashi 

General manager, advertising division, SoftBank

We had a strong desire to bring this project to fruition, and high aspirations for Pepper to open up the future.

Takashi Sakuma 

Creative director, Dentsu

Both our companies have a corporate culture that enables its personnel resources  to enjoy challenging the unknown.