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Dentsu’s entry “Fun days, without a newspaper” takes top prize in a newspaper advertising contest
Young creatives from Dentsu awarded by the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association

The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association holds a creative newspaper advertising contest every year for young ad creatives. In 2018 the contest was held under the theme of the newspaper itself, and a total of 787 works were submitted.

The top prize was awarded to the work Tanoshii Hibi (“Fun Days”) by Taira Ishikawa, an art director, and Kaya Koike, a copywriter, both at Dentsu’s Creative Design Division. We spoke with both of them about how they came up with their idea for a newspaper ad about newspapers, and how they appraise newspapers after participating in the competition.

Tanoshii Hibi (“Fun Days”), the top prize winner of the creative newspaper advertising contest in 2018

1. Stupid news
2. Super hilarious photos
3. Social media flaming
4. Accounts of annoying people
5. Titillating stories
6. Trendy things
7. Fun days, without a newspaper

We began to completely rethink what is good about newspapers

What led the two of you to enter your work in this contest?

From left: Kaya Koike and Taira Ishikawa (both at Dentsu’s Creative Design Division)

Koike: I was the one who first thought of entering the contest. I’ve only been working at Dentsu for two years while Taira has been here for four years. Even though he has been here longer, I often had opportunities to talk with him, so I asked him to enter with me.

Ishikawa: Although the two of us had not worked with each other before, we were both aware of each other’s work. Therefore, I accepted the invitation. I wanted to make a serious effort to win an award.

Koike: I invited Taira because, as I got to know him, he seemed like the type of guy whom I would enjoy creating something with. I thought it would be fun to take on a project with him, regardless of our difference in age and years at the company.

Ishikawa: Sometimes we talked with each other like a pair of mates. When discussing a project, the traditional Japanese junior-to-senior relationship is irrelevant. I believe it is important to talk and relate to one another without any reservations.

How did you come up with your ideas for this project?

Ishikawa: At first, each of us came up with a number of ideas, but none had enough substance to move forward. Therefore, we started again by closely examining what exactly a newspaper is, and what are its merits. While that is a fundamental part of making any kind of creative advertisement, it would be a problem if we focused on a merit that was not well thought out. If we were to emphasize this, our work would be less persuasive in the competition for sure.

For that reason, we thought about the merits of newspapers very carefully. That was especially tough because I am not the type of person who reads newspapers every day. Fortunately, however, Kaya does read newspapers on a regular basis, so we were able to consider newspapers from both the perspectives of regularly reading them and not reading them very much.

What merits of the newspaper did you conceive of?

Taira Ishikawa, Creative Design Division, Dentsu

Ishikawa: For example, newspapers allow us to quickly glance at articles about topics we are not usually interested in, and the information is credible because it is backed up by accurate reporting and in-depth coverage. With that in mind, even though online media is flourishing now, the information published in newspapers is actually really valuable. We continued digging up such core values to begin with.

Koike: After discussing that numerous times, we tried to combine similar elements, or talk about ways to broaden those themes while trying to create the ad. We finally came up with six ideas for the ad, and then entered it in the contest.

The work won first prize, but at the beginning this idea was not the first choice that we intended to enter. Midway through our discussions, Taira suggested a new idea. At that time, we had already completed the general outline for the work, but had not decided on the copy situated in the lower right corner. Taira said that he was concerned about what should go there.

Expressing anxiety about not reading newspapers

Why did you show your new idea to Mr. Koike midway through the project?

Ishikawa: I did that because the idea had an insight. It seemed closer to what I actually felt and came from my true feelings. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t really read newspapers much; instead, I mainly read online media. Despite that, I can still lead a normal life, of course, but I was wondering if it was really okay to never read newspapers, which made me feel some anxiety. I thought it would be possible to capture that genuine sentiment, but it was rather difficult to decide on what to use as the final copy. I didn’t show it to Kaya at first because it was incomplete, but afterward I asked him what he thought about it.

Koike: After that, we thought about that copy together, and suggested phrases that would express the idea in a straightforward and simple way, such as “We must read newspapers.” That approach, however, didn’t seem quite right. Then Taira came up with the copy “Fun days, without a newspaper” and I immediately knew that was the right expression.

The reason why I agreed on that copy was because it could be read in several ways. After reading it, one might feel anxious thinking that one should read a newspaper, or maybe simply agree with it and be finished. By allowing the copy to be interpreted in various ways without imposing the meaning on the reader, we thought people would be more likely to reflect on the significance of the newspaper.

Ishikawa: In my case, I thought the copy effectively expressed the anxiety I felt as a non-newspaper reader. I don’t believe online media is totally useless, and I don’t think reading newspapers is everything. Nonetheless, the copy does question whether online media should really be our only source of information. In that way, the words captured the feeling I really had.

Besides the copy, are there some other specific considerations that went into the work?

Kaya Koike, Creative Design Division, Dentsu

Koike: There are quite a few more than may be apparent. For example, the contents about news, photos, and flaming were enclosed in boxes which were loosely stacked alongside each other. We tried to present an image of online media by organizing and lining up various types of information in such a confused and untidy way. We also purposely tried to make the phrases appear rough and sloppy. For instance, in the phrase meaning “Super hilarious photos,” we wrote a series of adjectives ending with the same Japanese character, even though that is grammatically incorrect.

Ishikawa: By the way, the handwriting was done by Kaya. I thought his messy handwriting embodied those ideas.

Koike: I wrote it with a combination of both my right and left hands. I altered the lettering until it was barely legible.

Overwhelmed by too much information, young people have an underlying need for newspapers

What did you learn from participating in this contest, and how was it valuable for you?

Ishikawa: I felt that ideas with insights, especially those that come from deep inside of oneself, can have a powerful impact. Some people are able to freely communicate their ideas from any perspective, but personally, through this contest I came to appreciate the need to give importance to my own perspective rather than overgeneralizing my ideas. I intend to make use of that insight in the future.

Koike: This contest was interesting in that it published an ad about the newspaper itself inside a newspaper. Since the winning entry was published as a newspaper ad, our idea was conveyed to the people reading the newspaper. That made our work very worthwhile.

Finally, based on your experience in this contest, how do you appraise and perceive newspapers now?

Koike: Media is diversifying and information is everywhere, so we can no longer be sure of what is true. I think people are getting tired of those circumstances. For that reason, people should probably reconsider the option of reading newspapers, because given the accuracy and soundness of newspaper reporting, they are important sources of information among the diverse outlets available.

Ishikawa: Young people today are often referred to as “digital natives,” but even for that generation, digital information must have strengths as well as limitations. Therefore, I hope that the uniqueness and value of newspapers are preserved in the future, since newspapers cannot simply be replaced by other new forms of media.

Koike: It seems like very few people from the digital native generation bother to even try to read newspapers, so they will have fewer opportunities to notice the benefits and unique qualities that we have been talking about. If that is indeed the case, it would be great if there was a good opportunity or some new way for them to give newspapers a try and be interested in reading them. Perhaps the need for newspapers is still not apparent to many young people today.


Taira Ishikawa / Art director / Creative Design Division

Taira Ishikawa

Art director
Creative Design Division

Kaya Koike / Copywriter/planner / Creative Design Division

Kaya Koike

Copywriter/planner
Creative Design Division

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