Starting this year, Cannes Lions inaugurated the Sustainable Development Goals Lions, specifically awarding work that advances and contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda heading for 2030.
Among other things, this was one of most exciting changes I saw being at Cannes Lions 2017 and again in 2018.
This is because I personally believe it presents a great opportunity to tackle existing social and environmental issues specific to Japan, and from Japan, for us In the Japanese creative industry and clients with a passion to spend their 'advertising ¥¥¥' in an impactful manner.
To help us in the journey, I’ve found a very useful website that shows the SDGs goals and current relevant stats for each category in the context of Japan.
In and around the office where I work (at a Japanese advertising production company), I hear many people say that taking a socio-environmental issue first approach to creativity is not easy in Japan, given:
1. The clients’ general attitude to do more in sales than branding, in addition to our local industry’s heavy reliance on traditional media
2. Our culture’s general attitude towards campaigns that look and feel ‘too socio-conscious’
But personally, I feel heading towards Tokyo 2020 is a prime opportunity to break away with old standards, and set new examples for advertising in Japan, simply because we ourselves (whether in government, as brands, agencies or in production) are made aware of the increased international attention to Japan, and expect ourselves to do more to contribute to 'a better version of our country' that is further in alignment with (or hopefully excels) international standards.
Also, there’s no denying that we have the authenticity vs any other countries in the world to tackle and provide creative solutions for our own issues here in Japan.
Besides, the international tide is in our favour. In addition to the SDGs Lions, there's the Glass Lions, and Grand Prix for Good, as well as the Cannes LionHeart Award that awarded Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever for his commitment to sustainable business development.
So to sum it up, the time is very ripe locally and internationally. So why not give it a go? :)
And there are encouraging examples here from Japan as well, with Dentsu’s Ken Akimoto and his team for Emergency Collectibles, and great work by TBWA / Hakuhodo being shortlisted for the SDGs Lions, as well as Aya Hamada from Dentsu winning the 'Change for Good' Hackathon with her colleagues from Dentsu Jayme Syfu Philippines.
Emergency Collectibles - Shortlist (Dentsu)
Pride Jersey - Shortlist (TBWA / Hakuhodo)
Walk With Me - ‘Change for Good’ Hackathon (Dentsu)
As we congratulate the above, I believe we can pave the way for more initiatives and projects like those by each taking a conscious stand, lobbying key players to shift (at least some) of our time and attention to consciously tackling Japan-specific issues today and in the future, leveraging our expertise in the creative industry.
But having said all this, I do know it's easier said than done. So, what do you think we can do more 'good' projects in our industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts :)
Appendix : Other Unmissable Works
SDGs Lions Grand Prix and Gold winners.
Palau Pledge - Grand Prix
Nature Represented - Gold
Trash Isles - Gold
Black Supermarket - Gold
Grand Prix for Good winner by BWM Dentsu (Australia).
Grand Prix for Glass Lions.
Blood Normal - Grand Prix
Cannes LionHeart Award.
Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever