Creatives to Know 2010: Naoki Ito

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Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo ECD Naoki Ito has little regard for boundaries when it comes to advertising. Music-making shoes, boy bands outfitted in cameras and dragons lurking on the walls of a hi-rise are some of the memorable players in his branding experiences. As a CD at Japanese creative shop GT Inc, Ito created "Big Shadow," an interactive outdoor experience that allowed passersby to turn their own shadows into massive beasts, to promote Xbox's Blue Dragon game. For the shop's client Nikon, he strapped multiple cameras onto a members of the Hellicopter Boyz until they looked like cyborgs, in an outlandish on-stage demonstration of the camera's projector feature.

Even his work on more conventional platforms demonstrates the kind of fresh thinking that snaps an audience to attention. His "Love Distance" spot, for example, depicts a couple sprinting toward each other from faraway cities, only to be stopped short when they are .02 mm apart—to illustrate the thinness of Sagami Original condoms.

Ito's background might help to explain his approach. He started as a promotional planner at Japanese agency ADK, and waited for eight years to join the creative department. He eventually launched the agency's interactive group and "from there, I wanted to seamlessly fuse mass media, interactive, PR and promotion, so I moved to GT in July 2006," he says. "It may be hard to believe, but at GT I was playing the role of a creative director, art director, copywriter, interactive and PR."

Those skills will come in handy now that he's an ECD at Wieden Tokyo (he joined the agency in November, along with fellow ECD Frank Hahn). Currently, he's juggling about forty projects and eight clients, including Nike, Google and PlayStation. Most recently, he created a short film for Nike Free+, featuring a duo of DJs making music with the shoe line.

As for Ito's overall approach, "I think it's most important to find a POV before finding taglines and visuals," he says. "In an integrated campaign, I think it's necessary to integrate 'experience' and 'structure.' The internet exists for not only information, but to provide interactive experiences. I believe that interactivity leads advertising to the next level."

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