Rei Inamoto is behind some of the most innovative and varied projects in adland today, from building out Delta Airlines' travel apps to leading the charge on Future Lions, the Cannes seminar that features some of the best student work in the world. He's also a prolific figure in the industry: He was named to the Creativity 50 last year, and honored at the AAF's 40-under-40 gala. But sometimes, it's his lesser-known achievements -- like his awesome collections of star-decorated shirts -- that make for more interesting reading. Below, we outline six things you probably don't know about the AKQA CCO.
1. He's obsessed with the ocean, and takes pictures of it whenever he gets a chance. "MyiPhoto album is filled with them," he said. "They all look the same."
2. He regularly wears shirts with a star on them -- especially to big meetings and presentations -- as a subtle homage to his home country, Japan. In Japanese, "Japan" is called "Nihon," which means "Origin of the Sun." But having a shirt with a sun was too "obvious," so he picked a star. "The sun, after all, is the closest star to Earth," he said. However, he hasn't kept track of the success rate of wearing the shirt versus not wearing it. How many he has, and what the different colors mean is all "top secret" information, although he says he is "in the process of having them custom-made by a friend."
3. He's been called the Yoda of advertising, mostly because of his wisdom-filled tweets. "One of the ways I use Twitter is to test thoughts and materials," he said. He likes to throw random thoughts and ideas into the interwebs and see the reaction he gets. One time, he tweeted the cryptic "Less is better." Someone replied: "Oh please. You need to move beyond bi-polar systems, there is more than more/less, 1/0, yes/no."
4. He has a pretty gross story about an eye injury. When playing a five-on-five soccer game on the Lower East Side in 1999, an opponent blasted the ball at his right eye. He got knocked out, and the blast led to a retinal detachment, leading to four surgeries in the next six months, plus a hard-core rehabilitation process that might have been the hardest thing he's ever done. "It required that I have my face down, parallel to the ground -- for 24 hours a day for two to three weeks each time I had a surgery," he said. "By Day 2 of my first rehab process, I thought I was losing my f*ing mind. While I don't wish to go through this ever again nor wish that something like this on anyone, it helps me put life and work into perspective."
5. He doesn't like chocolate. The first time he got a Valentine's Day chocolate was when he was six, from a girl in the same class. It was also the last time.
6. His family has some unusual traits. To his parents, "Rei" is a unisex name. Even if they had a daughter, they planned to call her that. They also kept ducks as pets -- they're great if you have space and a stream, said Mr. Inamoto. "That wouldn't work for most people."