The World's Leading Indpendent Agencies 2014: Mori Inc

Do not make another shit for shit - or, how waste can be turned into treasure by thinking beyond the traditional product commercial

The World's Leading Indpendent Agencies 2014:  Mori Inc

I made a speech, "Do not make another shit for shit", in Cannes in 2011. As I am not particularly good at English, I was not sure if this title was appropriate or not, but the speech itself was well- received and, after the festival was over, I was invited to 12 countries to repeat it.

Just between you and me, during my 20 years in this business, I have seen many products and briefs from clients that are just shit. However, many ad agencies would close one eye and say: "What great shit!" Then they would make a beautiful and emotional, but shitty, commercial.

Why do they do it? To make money. For money, they are making another shit for shit. Then, every year, they gather in southern France to celebrate the best shit in the world. However, let's think about this on a global scale: this is nothing but making more and more waste.

Nowadays, companies that create excellent products like the iPad do not need to advertise. The expansion of social media has caused a revolution in which people are spreading and sharing information with each other on an unparalleled scale. I believe everyone learned about the iPad not through advertising, but through Twitter and Facebook, or TV news. Apple also made commercials, but only after everyone already knew about the iPad. The ads reinforced the initial message - that's all.

What we need is to use our creative powers to make that waste into treasure. We should make "great stories that get people talking" by utilising our creativity not only for advertising, but for the client's product and service developments; even to change the market they operate in.

Search the right place, not the bright place

I've heard a story that goes like this. At night, a man is searching for something under the street lights. A passing policeman asks: "Did you lose something?" "I lost my house key. I can't go home without it." "Are you sure you dropped it here?" "No, I lost it over there. But it's bright here, so I'm looking here."

You should not laugh at this man. Actually, all of you are doing something similar every day. You always use only familiar platforms - TVC, graphics, digital, event, PR - to search for the solutions to your problems. In other words, you are only searching in the bright places.

I was once asked by a credit-card company to create a campaign that would increase the usage of the card by customers. Generally, once people decide on a main credit card, they don't use others so much, so it's difficult for a new one to become the main card. Well, for this brief, how would you search for the solution? At the time, I suggested an idea that doubled the client's sales.

The idea was design: to make 100 credit-card designs, and let customers pick one when they apply. Actually, the client had expected an ad campaign, so they seemed shocked when I presented this. However, they said OK after hearing my explanation, which was: the credit card is a function-oriented product; there is no psychological connection between the customer and product, but this is where the opportunities are - if we could get customers to choose from 100 designs, this credit card becomes special to them.

Apple also made commercials, but only after everyone already knew about the iPad’

It is a card that the customers have spent time choosing. So, they feel a psychological commitment to it. Then, after two weeks, the card arrives in the mail and the customer opens the envelope. At that moment, the desire to use this card of course goes max.

This actually happened. The average frequency of use increased by 1.6 times; the average amount of use increased by 1.2 times. With the combination of the two, the total sales increased by about double.

If you only search the bright place, you cannot find the key. You have to look for it at the place you actually dropped it. For this case, if, in the beginning, I thought about what kind of ad campaign I should make, I would not have thought of the idea to change the credit-card design.

To see the forest for the trees

Do not make another waste for waste. Search the right place, not the bright place. So far, I have talked about these things, which actually came from my motto: to see the forest for the trees.

Both the clients and agencies tend to focus on the "trees" in front of them. It is true that a special tree can bring about a great story, but the true success comes when a new ecosystem that changes the entire forest is brought about. In other words, the great stories that get people talking is the forest.

We at Mori Inc believe in and work under this philosophy. In fact, the company name, Mori, means forest in Japanese.

Morihiro Harano is the creative director and founder of Mori Inc