Kazunori Kawagoshi > Frankly, the reaction was bigger than I anticipated, which surprised me. While I am pleased with the advertising awards, I wanted to create something that has a major impact, which of course is the traditional role of advertising. The fact that it went viral in Japan was the biggest achievement of all.
Q> How did this project come about?
KK> Every May, a national high school sumo tournament is held in the city of Kanazawa, which is located in Ishikawa Prefecture. This is a traditional event that has been held for more than 100 years; the project to make people excited about the tournament was requested by Hokkoku Shimbun, a local newspaper. The client left it up to us as to what kind of project it would be, ordering us to use the newspaper advertisement freely.
Q> How did the idea for high school girl sumo come about?
KK> It is simple; because this is high school sumo, I went with a high school girl motif. In Japan, baseball, soccer and other national high school sports tournaments are very popular. Many of these use “poster girls” to support high school students participating in the tournament. I thought it would be a good idea to use poster girls for this sumo tournament.
However, poster girls alone would make this no different from any other tournament. I came up with the idea of having the girls demonstrate winning sumo techniques while wearing their sailor-style school uniforms. I thought if people better understood the rules, they would enjoy watching the tournament. As there are 82 different winning sumo techniques, I had them demonstrate all 82 of them, which were shown in the newspaper and posted online in a video.
Q> So, this project began with the 82 Techniques?
KK> Yes. That advertisement went out 10 days before the tournament to generate interest in the tournament and high school sumo. Then, one more advertisement, a visual representation of two girls engaging in sumo, went out on the day of the tournament.
The casting of the two girls for the advertisement was very difficult. Since they were to demonstrate all 82 techniques, we had to find models who could actually perform these techniques. As this was a project that started with the idea of using poster girls, I wanted to convey a sense of something interesting and real using actual people. While it is possible to express the 82 techniques in an illustration, it won’t lead to making people excited when they see it and the impact will be weak.
Creating a Wide-Reaching Advertisement that Even Resonates with Mothers and Grandmothers in Rural Areas
Q> The 82 Techniques advertisement created a huge buzz, but it was the visual of the two girls engaging in sumo released on the day of the tournament that received the highest praise.
KK> I wanted to announce the beginning of the tournament by conveying a sense of tension and excitement. In terms of the project overall, I think the contrast between the traditional Japanese sport of sumo and the uniquely Japanese image of cute high school girls in sailor-style school uniforms really resonated with people. Although the girls are cute, the seriousness of their effort comes through.
For me personally, the most important aspects of an advertisement’s visual components are that it immediately communicates a message and is easy to understand; I think this project achieved this quite well.
Q> Why is being easy to understand important?
KK> Beyond involvement in advertising, I want to make something that has a wide reach. To make something that as many people as possible will see and be interested in, I think being easy to understand is also important. I came from a rural area, so I want to make something that will resonate even with my mother living there and indeed all citizens throughout Japan. Thus, making it easy to understand is important; I want to make something that everyone in Japan can
understand at first glance. With digital technologies and other advancements, media is becoming increasingly sophisticated and advertising targets are becoming more segmented. Be that as it may, I am actually interested in advertisements with a simple approach that have a mass appeal. Hence, one of my ideals is to make the most creative advertisements that are not too difficult and can be understood by everyone.
Q> What do you focus on when creating something that is easy to understand?