CEO Kitajima’s interview was published in The Focus.
My Career Path
He was headhunted and joined a joint venture between a major domestic agency and a foreign agency and learned domestic agency skills.
In 2006, the joint venture was dissolved, and he was headhunted by both companies. He was in charge of overseas clients for a total of 14 years.
In 2009, he was headhunted by the Japanese subsidiary agency of a major foreign-capital agency group. Three years after joining the company, he was promoted to MD, where he built relationships with Global and Region, and refined and acquired overseas management skills by working with overseas TOP management level partners on overseas business models.
In 2019, Group company reorganized and merged with Digital Agency to establish a new company. He became the first CEO, leading the office as the company’s manager for about a little less than 10 years. Doubled profits from before to after his appointment.
In 2022, he became independent and established a branding x digital company suitable for the Japanese market.
Currently, he provides marketing support to domestic and international clients, in the Japanese market, through digital marketing centered on branding that combines the Japanese spirit with Western sensibilities.
Why I started the Owl
Digital marketing has become essential for companies as rapid digital advancements have taken place. Technology and AI have advanced remarkably beyond our imagination. Western countries that are ahead of us in promoting digital marketing tend to focus on efficiency with their top-down organizational structures.
On the other hand, I feel that many companies in Japan view it as a marketing tool. This is a result of many factors, including Japanese culture, corporate culture, Japanese insight, and bottom-up corporate organization. It is also true that many companies are unable to break away from “monozukuri” (making good products that sell well). In the digital society, consumers are surrounded by an abundance of information, and it is essential to shift from “monozukuri” to “kotozukuri” (creating a strong bond between the brand and the consumer).
The key to growth is differentiation from the competitors and how to deliver the company’s assets to consumers. This also means that the management strategy should be focused on effectiveness, not on efficiency as in the West. In addition, I feel that Japanese companies must aim to value “people” in order to bring happiness and motivation to their employees.
I have a strong ambition to show the world once again the excellence of Japanese companies (in terms of technology, development capability, idea generation, etc.), especially in this day and age. I do not believe that the Western way is always the right way. I believe that we should take on challenges with ambition. We established Owl Plus Partners K.K. in order to help such companies promote their growth and create bonds with consumers.
Commitment to my responsibilities
I have been involved in communication creation for many years. Our ideas make people smile. Our ideas bring smiles to people’s faces and connect them with their families, friends, and community. It is a wonderful job, and I take pride in it. Companies in various categories have completely different challenges. I have experienced the emotional turmoil of being praised when I have been able to solve them and being reproached when issues remain.
Our mission has become even more important now that the digital society has revolutionized communication methods beyond the industrial revolution. We believe that a win-win situation exists between a company (Brand) and its people.
In the words of our predecessors, “We are not making advertisements. We are creating a culture. To create culture, we ourselves must have more skills. We make people happy by creating culture. Contribute to the growth and success of companies. This is what I continue to focus on.
To do that, we need to change ourselves before we can tell companies that they need to change. I am not simply running an advertising agency. As a businessperson who initiates change, I want to hand on my experience to those who will come after me.
My Message to the Youth
Where do you see yourself in 3, 5, or 10 years? Think about it.
Because in this day and age, no one can give you an answer as to what the world and your surroundings will be like 10 years from now. In the past, companies and seniors could guide us. That is backed up by successful experiences and experiences. Unfortunately, there are things happening in our work and in our lives that neither that company nor any of our seniors have experienced.
Digital transformation has certainly changed the way people live and companies think. But it is something humans are creating and thinking about. AI cannot surpass humans. It is humans who will handle it. What I want people to experience in any era, and precisely because we live in this era, is real human connections, not digital ones. Unfortunately, human connections have faded away with remote work. You have grown up in a world where digital is the norm, and I hope that you will have the courage to share this with the company and your seniors, and not hide behind social networking sites. I am sure that there are some people in the company and senior staff who will listen to you.
It is difficult to change the mindset of the company and senior staff, but your ideas and thinking are valuable instruments that can contribute to the growth of the company. Please share your digital literacy with the company. Please be courageous and show your presence in the real world.
So, now to my first question.
Where do you see yourself in 3, 5, or 10 years?
Self-analysis is useful for your personal growth. Without a doubt, you will be the main players in the next 10 years. Isn’t that exciting?
Remember to value people. I will support you in this pursuit.