Lifestage Marketing: Young Urban Trendsetters

The cities of Tokyo, London, Rio de Janeiro and New York have their share of cool youth. Four creative directors examine how the youth like to live and what brands, if any, figure in their lives.


So, I'm walking through Roppongi, the clubbing district, at 5am to get to work. Across the street, Kenta, a 22- year-old young adult, stumbles out of Club 911, probably after poppin' some tabs and drinking Asahi beer and some Shochu Tantakatan, a Korean spirit distilled from plum leaves.

His hair is still perfectly styled and his tight Yoji Yamamoto suit still bright white, complemented by all of his silver jewelry, probably from Chrome Hearts or Gucci. This screams great opportunity for the Africans and Chinese to try to lure him into their clubs to end his night with some female companions.

On my way home from work, I take a walk to Shibuya through Omotesando and Harajuku. As I walk through Omotesando, Kyoko, a 29-year-old OL (office lady), walks out of the Fendi store wearing black pants, a shirt from Marni, Ferragamo shoes and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag. She smells expensive.

I decide to go through "Urahara", or the back streets of Harajuku. The age range drops suddenly. Ryosuke, aka Mambo, 20 years old, comes out of A Bathing Ape with a bag containing two T-shirts costing well over $300. His outfit costs more than $1,000. Ripped Evisu jeans for $400, limited-edition Air Force Ones for $300, Supreme T-shirt for $150, Carhartt hooded sweatshirt for $300, and a MLB hat for $100. And that's without counting his metallic G-shock, cell phone, platinum rings, necklace, etc.

So I get to Shibuya. The age range here is similar to Urahara but something is different. Hanako, an 18-year- old, is sitting down in the street with her friends, smoking a menthol cigarette and rolling around laughing.

She's wearing pink Adidas gym shorts, with a yellow shirt from Cocolulu, beach sandals and make-up, hair with blonde streaks and pink extensions.

I run into HMV and, in the hip hop section, find 23-year-old Tomoaki wearing thick glasses, tight beige pants and a plain white shirt from Zara, and brown leather shoes from Paul Smith. The clean-cut young man is nodding his head to WuTang Clan.

Tokyo is a fantastic place, where everything to do with who you are and what you want others to think of you is very considered. Nothing is by mistake.

- Jeremy Perrott is the executive creative director of McCann Erickson, Japan.


You're 16. Everywhere are warnings about what might happen to you if you shag anyone - messages that might momentarily flicker across your straining features as you, and your two partners, reach a cocaine-fuelled crescendo of loveliness. One of them was out of it on white wine - a bottle or two of which being more financially efficient than Vodka Red Bull. Anyway, what with ecstasy down to three quid a throw, who wouldn't join the binge generation! Still, you wouldn't want to join the losers on crack.

Time to get up. Walk into a pair of baggy Levi's, spray on some Lynx and don whatever else you were wearing last night, an Oeuf T-shirt probably.

Little Britain on Sky+ and flick through Vibe or Marmalade. Remembered to download Gorillaz to iPod so leave the flat with a spring in your step, particularly as you're wearing new Nike Vandals.

You're going to meet people down at the shopping centre, and swap stories about what happened at Plastic People last night. Funny thing is, there's no longer any need to embellish the stories to make yourself sound cool.

If you were any more laid back, you'd be in a box. The mention that one girl's up the duff - second time - and another is probably having a lesbian affair prompts barely a flicker, lest you be seen to be interested, which would immediately put you somewhere 10,000 miles outside the group.

All the talk is of a new club either opening or somehow just happening tonight near New Cross. Some guy wants to show you an mpeg on his new mobile of some girl getting a "slap" but no-one's interested anymore.

It'd have to be either someone famous, or an actual murder to arouse any interest now - only a matter of time.

The chat turns to Big Brother, which everyone's watching despite all saying it's not like it used to be. Everyone thinks Love Island is shit, which it is. There's a bit of chat about rhythm and grind, but it doesn't really sound like anything new, and everyone still likes Xfm, even if it is getting increasingly like Virgin. Still, West Ham went up and Delia's Norwich got dumped, so things ain't all bad. And you'll be 17 in October.

Get yourself some wheels.

- John O'Keeffe is the executive creative director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty


There isn't just one Rio de Janeiro, but several. Just like in any big city, life has also split the locals into social classes. The luxurious buildings and the slums (favelas) are neighbours. These different social classes meet on the beach, a free, common ground.

I want to focus on two young guys from different social classes. In their own way, both are fashion trend developers. Fred is a graphic designer, lives in Ipanema, a trendy neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro. Wagner works at a fabric-printing factory, is a keyboard player at a gospel church, and lives in a favela also in the beach area.

I spoke to both of them and was amazed by their similarities, which were neither the way they dress and talk, nor the places they go to, but their attitude towards life. Their absence of prejudice and relaxed lifestyle makes them be admired and followed.

When it comes to dress code, they follow the same concept: they are not worried about what people think or say about them. Fred wears torn clothes from his parents' wardrobe, tacky 70s and 80s-style T-shirts. But he also loves his Von Dutch cap.

Wagner wears his Rastafarian shoes, over-the-top mustard colour T-shirt to make an entrance, and wears what-ever he feels like. He tells me that in the favelas, many people wear the Cyclone label, the favourite of drug dealers.

Fred goes to house music parties until dawn, loves electronic music, and never misses a Discontrol party where the cool people go. Wagner is a church fanatic; he likes soul music, especially soul-style gospel.

He also enjoys MV Bill, a rapper from the favelas. Every first Saturday of the month, Wagner organises a "holy night", a party of soul and electronic music.

As for drugs, Fred has done ecstasy, cannabis and skank; but he doesn't like cocaine as it's a "selfish trip".

Wagner lives in a place where getting involved with drugs is almost guaranteed; but he belongs to the church and does not take drugs.

Fred and Wagner love the beach. On Saturday afternoon, they go to Posto 9 in Ipanema, the cool spot. They don't know each other but probably only a few metres of sand keeps them apart. Maybe they share the same wave.

Ah, yes, they both are surfers.

- Rodolfo Sampaio is the creative president atPublicis Salles Norton


Patrick O'Neill imagines what it's like to be a 26-year-old trendsetter

I'm awake and the Tuesday routine beckons. 50 Cent on Konfabulator. This remix with MJB makes up for how dark the morning appears. Rain. Again.

I sit back and listen to the rest of the song while Max (my daschund) does his "I-have-to-shit" dance.

Check e-mail. Five unread. All porn junk with the subjects claiming "great to see you" and "forgot to attach" and the one that never fails "re: yesterday's meetin". This habit of checking e-mail before coffee is a recent development.

I try on three talking T-shirts: "I have expensive things", "Come see my modern loft" or "disco still sucks". IHET wins out given my thrice-cancelled dinner plans this evening with my Upper East Side aunt.

I buckle my black Dior she got me for my last birthday and put on the Von Dutch cap with the label ripped off. The colour still works.

IPod playlist for the day; Stevie Nicks, the Cult, Guns 'n' Roses, faceless hair metal. Anything sunny.

The day evaporates. My D&G hi-tops are darker green than I remember.

I walk into the restaurant (Serendipity 3) and sit at the bar and order some Pinot.

There she is. Her face has really come down from the swelling from her eyelid surgery a few weeks ago. She looks shiny but won't admit to a peel or microderm or any of the latest injectable fillers. I pretend not to notice and smile. We eat quickly, talk real estate bubbles, and wonder what President Kerry would have done.

My girlfriend Biba meets me at Soho 323. It's a model party. I'm the only guy under 5' 11". I drink one more Pinot. Bad 80s Miami music. But they mixed it with the new Gorillaz. We leave and smoke a joint on West Broadway and look at the windows at D&G. Superman tanks, button downs.

Wonder Woman T-shirts. "I guess with Fantastic Four and Batman Begins this summer, they're trying to jump on the bandwagon," Biba scoffs.

Biba kisses me goodnight on the cheek and I finish her joint and catch a cab home. I'm already red-wine hung-over. Looking forward to that White Chocolate Mocha already.

- Patrick O'Neill is the former creative director of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York.