|Title||THE CENTER LANE|
|Product / Service||SK-Ⅱ|
|Category||C02. Innovative Use of Influencers|
|Entrant||GREY Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Idea Creation||GREY Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Media Placement||MEDIACOM Singapore, SINGAPORE|
|Production||BLUE ONE INC. Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Production 2||ENNET INC. Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Post Production||BLUE ONE INC. Tokyo, JAPAN|
|Leo Savage||GREY London||Executive Creative Director|
|Graham Drew||GREY Malaysia||Executive Creative Director|
|Siddika Dehlvi||GREY Singapore||Executive Creative Business Director|
|Danni Mohammed||GREY London||Executive Creative Strategy Director|
|San Takashima||GREY Tokyo||Executive Creative Producer|
|Nihar Das||MEDIACOM||WPP Team Lead|
|Sudhir Pasumarty||GREY Singapore||Creative Director|
|Ashley Chen||GREY Singapore||Creative Director|
|Ken Mitani||GREY Tokyo||Creative Director|
|Katie Mulligan||GREY London||Creative Strategist & Copywriter|
|Nathan Wilson||WPP||Global Integration Lead|
|Stuart Harkness||WPP||Creative Consultant|
|Yukika Anan||GREY Tokyo||Copywriter|
|Yuta Kudo||GREY Tokyo||Copywriter|
|Shoko Akutagawa||GREY Tokyo||Senior Agency Producer|
|Angelique Malabanan||GREY Singapore||Senior Project Director|
|Shane Lester||GREY Tokyo||Creative Director|
|Sue-Ann De Cruz||GREY Singapore||Client Director|
|Iris Gu||GREY Tokyo||Senior Account Executive|
|Hiroko Matsuo||GREY Tokyo||Strategy Director|
|William Godwin||GREY London||Business Director:|
|ChewLing Loke||GREY Singapore||Project Director|
|Prajat Khar||MEDIACOM||Media Director|
|Daryl Bryan Lim||Producer||Hogarth Singapor|
|Wataru Togashi||ENNET, inc.||Associate Director|
|Naoki Morita||ENNET, inc.||Producer|
|Eiji Kitahara||ENNET, inc.||Producer|
|Susumu Kawasumi||BLUE ONE inc.||Producer|
|Yuta Nakajima||BLUE ONE inc.||Producer|
|Ryuto Kondo||BLUE ONE inc.||Director Of Photography|
|Masanobu Hiraoka||BLUE ONE inc.||Animation|
|Akira Kosemura||BLUE ONE inc.||Music|
|Matt Holyoak||Matt Holyoak||Photographer/Director|
|Yuko Matsuda||N/A||Print Producer|
In 2021, the person at the heart of this work helped re-define the purpose of a billion dollar brand. It was only in telling the true-life story of the influential star of our campaign, Rikako Ikee, that millions of Japanese fans truly understood what it means to 'Change Destiny'. The story of an Olympic hopeful who’s dreams were dashed – her refusal to give in the embodiment of the power we all have inside us. By giving voice to her journey and telling it in a unique story-form, her message was amplified by her own social channels to millions.
As a Tier One sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, SK-II had signed a host of inspirational International female athletes for their Olympics campaign – set to help define the brand’s core purpose of ‘#changedestiny’ for a whole new generation. Then for the first time in history outside of wartime, the Olympics was cancelled, an event felt all the more by the people of Japan. So SK-II turned to another of their athletes, one who was fighting a far bigger battle. Rikako Ikee was a Japanese swimming sensation and Olympic favourite – until in 2019 when she was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Passionate about wanting to share her story to the public, SKII gave voice to her recovery. We set out to give voice to an extraordinary story of hope, determination that would eventually come define the brand’s purpose of '#changedestiny' unlike any other.
In competitive swimming the ‘Centre Lane’ is the physical position given to the swimmer with the best qualifying time – it’s the equivalent of Pole Position in F1. It is this position that Ikee had made her own in her record-breaking career, one that made a fitting metaphor for her battle to return to what she loves no matter what. The events of Ikee’s real life journey surpasses any dramatic script, more importantly it was crucial that we retained the authenticity of her voice. So we approached director Hirokazu Koreeda – winner of the Cannes Palm D’or and someone who is able to lend a uniquely vivid and thoughtful articulation of modern Japanese life. Combining his vision, with the core purpose of Change Destiny and a unique use of animation to give voice to Ikee’s inner thoughts and feelings.
On Twitter, WeChat and Line, historically engagement with skincare brands like SK-II is low. We wanted to bring this story to Japan, not as a traditional advertising campaign, but as shareable, authentic content. In Japan there’s the cultural tradition of Honne (public face) and Tatemae (private face) that keeps people from sharing their true feelings. In fact, 70% of female users have at least one Twitter account under a pseudonym that they use to share honest opinions. This is also true of Instagram. Throughout the production of the film, Ikee shared behind the scenes posts – her openness about her journey was the antithesis to this. Authenticity would cut-through the artificiality that pervades social media and ‘fake’ influencer content. With shareable trailers and early announcement of Kore-eda's involvement, a legitimacy was given to The Centre Lane, making it a highly shareable piece of content.
Timing was crucial. Ikee’s recovery outstripped even her own expectations, and when we launched the film on March 29th, it was just days later, on April 2nd, that Ikee competed in the Japan qualifiers. Incredibly, she qualified for the 2021 Olympics. We deployed smart placements on twitter. One-day block appearing as the first tweet on the user’s feed, giving it an unmissable positioning and a push via Rikako Ikee herself. It started trending on key platforms (Yahoo, Line, Twitter). Opinion leaders came out in the support of the video, starting conversations on how Ikee has been a true synonym for #ChangeDestiny. This was further amplified via Youtube and social platforms (Facebook, IG, LINE). We then used the power of reach media to drive scale, and had people conversing and engaging.
The country was a buzz with Ikee's story, with the Centre Lane becoming the most watched #changedestiny campaign in Japan's history as well as best in class organic video across all categories on WeChat with 845m views. Ikee became the first female athlete to be featured on the front pages (6 of them) of newspapers in 28 years All major media channels such as TV Asahi, TBS, Fuji TV, Sankei Sports, Huffpost Japan, Business Insider, Yahoo dominated top stories of "Ikee Rikako". It became the most watched #ChangeDestiny film in Japan’s history. We also shared it on Weibo & WeChat with no push media. Within days, it broke the WeChat record of most-watched film organically across all categories. Organic viewership and coverage was outstanding: 22.6+MM video views. eCommerce sales growth was significant, eventually becoming 10x what it was pre-pandemic levels.