NIKKEI Web special edition “My Road” has released today
“My Road” by NIKKEI web special edition of “My Personal History” in which Chief, was recently interviewed has released today.
In addition to the interview article, video of the interview is also available, we hope you can feel the passion and thoughts of Chief, which cannot be conveyed through words alone.
Also, we are expecting another major interview coming up in this year, so we have a lot to looking forward this year even more.
Please see below for English version of the interview and the video.
For the Future of Japan – Messages from Leaders
Owl Plus Partners Inc.
“Want to communicate the virtues of Japan to the world.”
Born in Kanagawa, 1964. Graduated from Chuo University, Faculty of Commerce, moved from Hakuhodo LINTAS to Hakuhodo in 2006, then to a foreign affiliated WPP group JWT in 2009. 13 years as president, acquired innovative management skills overseas. Became independent, established Owl Plus Partners in 2022.
The Japanese culture of “wa” (harmony) and “wabi-sabi,” or the spirit of care and respect for others, is highly valued overseas. Recently, at the World Cup soccer tournament, the Japanese national team coach bowing deeply and supporters picking up trash after the game attracted global attention, and this was just another example of Japanese identity. Some people are pessimistic about Japan, saying that the future is bleak, and that Japan is no longer a developed country, but this is not true. It is just that the branding of Japan as a country has not been done well. With the help of young people, I would like to communicate to the world the qualities and charms of this country.
Not copying foreign countries, rather a business model of “Japanese spirit with Western sensibility”
When I worked for advertising agencies both in Japan and overseas, I realized the differences in the corporate cultures of each country. The Japanese communication style of “A-Un” breathing or “I sense it” does not work overseas. Overseas, the emphasis is on efficiency and numbers are everything. The decisive difference between Japan and overseas is the speed of decision-making. Japanese organizations are a vertical society, and each time a decision is made, it has to be approved by the top management. This is the reason why people say that Japanese companies lack a sense of speed. However, it is not enough to simply emulate overseas methods. Japan’s passion for manufacturing and values that emphasize harmony are things we can be proud of and should be cherished by the world. I started this business because I wanted to establish a “Japanese spirit with Western sensibility” business model that incorporates efficient marketing methods from overseas while taking advantage of the best of Japan, and with such vision, I want to work on branding for Japanese companies.
I believe that ideally, a company’s growth should be linked to people’s lives. I want to create a branding that will create a strong bond between the company and people, and that will continue to be loved by people for decades to come. To achieve this, we must attract many people to believe that what the company offers resonates with them and is indispensable to their lives. Overseas companies are good at marketing to people; they use IT technology to analyze and visualize consumer behavior and pursue asking themselves, “Are our products really what people are looking for?
Japan, on the other hand, is a bit inward-looking. We have a wonderful culture, but it is difficult to apply it, and it is usually limited to the domestic market. In order to be loved by many people, we need to communicate more than the “product” itself; utilizing digital technology, why the product was made and why we pay attention to every detail-that sort of “thing” is what we need to communicate to the world. There must be many things that are not yet well known but would be widely accepted if they were shared with the world. For example, some of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) that have been gaining momentum globally over the past few years are already rooted in the Japanese culture of respecting the feelings of others. By communicating this to the world, I believe that the Japanese way of doing things can become the global standard.
Making a leap forward into the world with the power of the Digital Native Generation
Adapting to an ever-evolving digital society requires a wide variety of ideas. What is required of top management today is the role of a facilitator who draws out ideas from people of various positions and generations and incorporates them in a flexible manner. If we provide a place where people can frankly share their opinions with each other, young people will come up with better ideas.
They are the “digital native generation” who have been familiar with the Internet and computers since birth, and they have many different perspectives and ideas than we do. They tend to be biased and evaluated as “immersed in the virtual world” or ” insensitive,” but the Japanese culture and spirit are rooted in them as well, just in a different way of expression.
In addition, they are adept at using the online environment and social networking services to gather and spread information. I am convinced that an organization that can incorporate the sensitivity and sensibility of this generation into its management strategy will bring about bold changes that will attract the attention of the world.
Digital technology will continue to evolve, and we will live in a world where things will happen one after another that no one has ever experienced before. It is precisely because we live in such an era where no one has the right answer. That’s why I hope that young people will take advantage of the sensitivity and sensibility they have cultivated in the digital society to create new forms of communication. I would like to use my many years of experience in the world of communication to be a guide along the way, and I hope that you will also be a guide for the next generation.
Going forward, you will have a leading role in the future. If there is something you want to do, please have the courage to speak up and take action. However, please do not be self-contained, but learn from adults how to involve others and feel the joy of sharing your success not only digitally but also in the real world.
At the crossroads of life, we all take the uncertain path that leads us astray. The choice had its own unique beliefs, its own signpost.
Choose my signpost.
Creation of new communication ideas
Owl Plus Partners CEO, Hironobu Kitajima – His signpost
Branding x Creative
Owl Plus Partners specializes in branding and creative.
They blend wellbeing and CX marketing techniques to provide ideas that make people’s lives more comfortable and help create brands that are loved and empathized with around the world using the Japanese spirit and Western sensibility.
Creating a brand that is empathized with and loved around the world.
I want to introduce Japanese companies to the world. We are a company that provides consultation, partnership, communication partner, and advisory services to help companies grow. I have spent my entire working career in the field of communications, so I wanted to help companies grow, brand themselves, and create strong bonds between the company and people as well as consumers. That is why I decided to start my own company.
We want to be closely connected to people’s lives.
Mr. Kitajima was headhunted by a foreign affiliated company while working at a Japanese major advertising agency. From there, he worked for a long period of time as a representative of the company. In the process of working in a global environment, he realized the importance of how to create a customer experience.
Offer from a foreign affiliated company.
Became a representative of the company.
How to initiate
Overseas, I believe that marketing methods are much stronger in terms of targeting consumers and people. That is why we need to know, for example, data, CX, how customers use SNS, IT, mobile, etc., and what kind of customer experience they have.
Behaviors like how customers use social networking, IT, mobile, etc., and what kind of customer experience they have. The Western way of doing business is to study these aspects.
Japanese consumers’ ideas and Western consumers’ ideas, methods, and techniques are different, but what I want to do is that they are both geared toward consumers in the form of the Japanese spirit and Western sensibility. I would like to create a new business model, which I call a new business model, by taking good Western methods and adapting them to Japanese culture.
Strong interpersonal methods
What kind of customer experience is it?
Japanese spirit with Western sensibilities
New Business Models
CEO Kitajima, who is branding companies with the business model of Japanese spirit with Western sensibility. There were challenges in providing new value as the times changed.
What challenges did he see as he took on the challenge?
I think the era that people spend money on communication is probably not the same anymore. It takes time for people to understand unless we first start talking about Japanese companies in a way that suits the Japanese culture.
Our company name, Owl Plus Partners, is a symbol of wisdom in the West.
I think that all of us, including customers, consumers, vendors, and partner companies, are all partners, and that is why I added the word Partners.
When it comes to how to communicate ideas to, for example, a PR firm or a creative hub boutique, we don’t want one company to do it all. We wanted to work with people who have their own areas of expertise. Thanks to the many partners we have gained, we are now able to work together. We are now discussing the possibility of working together.
CEO Kitajima is a man who works with a variety of businesses to complete new pieces of the puzzle. In such efforts, what is the key piece that he considers indispensable?
What is necessary to overcome challenges?
I really want to communicate with young people more than ever before. Generation gap also existed in our generation, and it has become a buzzword. But the current generation gap cannot be bridged because there is a difference between a real-first and a digital-first generation. Even so, young people have the core of Japanese culture and the Japanese spirit of wabi-sabi, for sure. It is just expressed in a different way. I am sure that the young people of today are thinking about various things, and I am positive that they will come up with very good ideas. Owl Plus Partners, a symbol of wisdom, for whether it is an older person, a client, or anyone else, has a vision to make Japan a better country and to make the Japanese people happier. I want to work with those people. So, I have a strong desire to be a guide and definitely want to make that happen. That’s why I want to work with and talk to young people.
The spirit remains the same.
Believing those young ones will build the next Japan.
Hand in hand with the next generation
Signpost for Hironobu Kitajima
For me, the signpost is the creation of new communication ideas. Digital and technology will continue to evolve. I would like to be a guide for where we are headed in the future. And I truly hope that you, the youth, will be there as a new guide for the next generation.
Creation of New Communication Idea
Signpost for Hironobu Kitajima, CEO of Owl Plus Partners