Foot Locker and ASICS’ ‘Welcome to the Dojo’ collaboration marked a meeting of the Western and Eastern sneaker culture. To coincide with the launch of the collection, the two brands launched a beautiful anime-inspired digital series (which has since been turned into one longer film). Created by BBDO New York, with animation by Shotopop, the film features voiceover talent from notable personalities, including Luka Sabbat, Princess Nokia and YFN Lucci.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with BBDO New York executive creative director Dan Lucey to find out more.
LBB> What was the initial brief like from Foot Locker and ASICS and what were you thinking when you saw it?
Dan> The brief focused on bringing together Eastern and Western cultures in order to launch the Asics ‘Welcome to the Dojo’ pack. Asics is a Japanese brand with a rich heritage, so we did not want to lose any of that when marketing the shoes and apparel to a western audience.
LBB> When did the idea initially hit you to turn the campaign into an anime? What did the client initially say when you first pitches the idea?
Dan> Pretty early on in the process the creative team, Bryan Stokely and Martins Zelcs, and I realised anime-inspired animation was a natural vehicle to bring together Eastern and Western cultures. Many sneakerheads have one foot in the anime world. Foot Locker and Asics agreed and the idea was well received from the start.
LBB> What were the main aspects that you had to keep in mind to keep it true to the anime style of storytelling?
Dan> We wanted to make sure the anime community embraced whatever we did, so finding the right partner to execute the film was paramount. We only looked at partners that had done anime films before. We wanted the style and visual narrative to feel authentic.
LBB> How was that for you as a creative? Is anime a genre that you’re familiar with?
Dan> I’m a fan of anime but far from an expert. Luckily we realised early on that our account manager Sam Henderson was an avid fan. So we leaned on him a bunch to make sure we stayed true to the genre.
LBB> What inspired the actual narrative?
Dan> The narrative was inspired by the Bushido code, which are the unwritten virtues of the Samurai. We also took a whole bunch of cues from the product itself by incorporating the logos of the sun and the snake into the story.
LBB> Why were Luka Sabbat, Princess Nokia and YFN Lucci the right characters to feature in the film?
Dan> We really lucked out that we got Luka, Princess Nokia and YFN Lucci. Both Luka and Nokia are big anime fans and all three are known for their style. Their endorsement of the shoes and apparel went a long way with our target audience.
LBB> Why were Shotopop the right team to bring the story to life?
Dan> I can’t say enough about Shotopop. They were willing to jump into this with us and work a lot of magic in a short period of time.
LBB> Was it always the plan to turn the series into one longer film? Or was it more because of the reaction it received?
Dan> From the start the plan was to make a short anime-inspired film, so we started with a long form piece. The tricky part was to cut it down into episodes so we could roll it out on Instagram. We needed to make sure every episode ended on a bit of a cliffhanger so you wanted to watch the next one.
LBB> What kind of reaction have you seen?
Dan> The reaction has been very, very positive.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
Dan> Anyone that has made an animation before knows it’s a lot of work. You also really have to get the score right. It’s critical. Thankfully Mixtape Club did a fantastic job and provided us with an amazing soundtrack and original music for every episode.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Dan> It’s an exciting time to be working in the industry: clients seem more and more receptive to non-traditional ideas.