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Is it possible to power an aircraft with AA batteries? That
was the question that Panasonic and Japanese agency
Hakuhodo asked when they announced the "Oxyride
Manned Flight Project" in 2006. And according to
Panasonic's Yasuyuki Oka, even he wasn't sure of the
answer when the project began. "We announced to the
press that we would attempt to fly a manned battery-powered
plane, without knowing whether it would actually fly,"
he says. "Our challenge was to build up buzz by revealing
the risk involved." To that end, Panasonic and Hakuhodo,
led by CD Toshikazu Ieda, let consumers follow the development
of the project on the web and through a 4-monthlong
television series. The result? The 600 meter flight powered
by 160 AA batteries generated some $4 million in
media coverage in Japan and abroad. It also brought recognition
from the global advertising community, which
awarded the effort a Promo Lion and Japan's only Film
Lion at the 2007 International Advertising Festival in
Cannes.While clients often downplay the significance of
awards, Oka sees the global stage they provide as an important
spur to creativity. "It is good to aim for advertising
awards," he says. "If you stick to ideas that make sense in
the company, you will end up with creative that works only
in the company. Ideas that work around the world result in
creative that works anywhere—and highly fresh communication
at the end of it all."
Oka on being honored in Cannes: "Honestly, I've been trying
for this for many years, so I am just happy to have
received the award.My relations with all the people who
worked on this project have been deepened by this shared
success. Now I take aim at the Grand Prix."