Transform conventional ways

of saying and showing.

Acanthus are large perennial plants that are commonly known as bear's breeches and are called haazami in Japan. Although people in Japan may not be as familiar with them, they are very much loved by people who live on the Mediterranean coast where they originated, and especially so in Greece, where it is designated as its national flower. During flowering season, its flower stalk grows long, and it features dense spires of blossoms. The contrast between the flower's multiple layers of purple calyxes and white petals is very attractive. Its large, dark green, glossy leaves are beautifully shaped and are often used as decorative patterns in architecture, vases, and other things. It is resistant to both heat and cold and is strong enough to grow in the wild, growing as tall as 150 cm—making its presence known to everyone around. As I mentioned, their leaves are known to have been used as inspiration for column decorations in ancient Greek architecture. In the Victorian Flower Language, the acanthus symbolized “fine art” and “artifice.” The scientific name of the genus Acanthus comes from the Greek word “akantha,” which means “spine” and refers to the spine-like points of acanthus leaves. I can't help but imagine that the word “artifice” often refers not only to beauty but also to an edgy approach that's sharp to the touch. Buildings and structures seen in Greek architecture may have at first been simple and made using only the minimum building materials required to make them, but as we see with the introduction of Greek sculptures, more varied meaning and values were placed in them. If these “artifices” have fascinated many people over the ages, perhaps there are some hints hidden here we could use in trying to gain the interest of people who all have layers and various preferences.

It may be too much to include historical buildings and structures in what I'm going to talk about, but it is these kinds of “artifices” that form an important part of “delivering information to others and creating encounters,” which is the theme of LIONS GOOD NEWS 2023. In the past, we used to hear the phrase “advertising is a love letter.” These days, however, it is becoming more and more important to know how one should skillfully approach people in the early stages of an encounter. In this era of information, we are confronted with information overload with the rise of social media, and it has become extremely difficult for a single consumer to decide which information to look at. As with the fake news mentioned in the other chapter, if we do not select and confront correct information, it can have a significant impact on our actions and the results thereof afterwards. It is possible to have positive results, both large and small, but there is also the possibility of these results having a negative impact. In this sense, we can say that this is an era in which Art & Copy, the most traditional method of spreading information in the communication field, is needed most and even more influential. It is truly a phenomenon where things have gone full circle and are returning to the basics. We must remember, however, that it is also true that in this era of being flooded with information, no matter how great the copy is written or how powerful and emotionally appealing a creative commercial can be made and run in large quantities, it is almost never known by everyone the next day. The competition has shifted from being about how to express what we wanted to say in the most witty and attractive way to how to convey the story behind the message and move people's emotions. It's possible that today's required skill is the ability to send messages at a deeper level. Even if we aim to differentiate ourselves through wordplay and cutting-edge technology, even that has already become a commodity. Only actions that truly touch our hearts take firmly root in the waves of information and may be maintainable and continue to exist. The truth that lies in modern communication is that the definition of the word “artifice” is no longer limited to the level of skill or technique but has come to imply knowing how to move people's hearts. And in order to convey this truth, it is becoming important to express who used the artifice and for what purpose, as well as the thoughts and background that motivated its creation.

Although the cases we are going to look hereon may be unique in that they are based on the strong feelings of the actors and the backgrounds and issues they face, they are not just shouting at society to listen to their thoughts. They are good examples of very influential messages, constructed through ingenuity in a way that shakes the emotions of the people who take that in and in a way that the core message that's being conveyed isn't blurred; in other words, they can be called an evolution of Art and Copy. These messages firmly embedded themselves in people's feelings, made them think, and changed their values. The first example is #flutwein - our worst vintage.

#flutwein - our worst vintage

The tragedy happened in Ahr Valley, a region in Germany known as “red wine paradise.” In the summer of 2021, the Ahr region, one of the most distinguished red wine-growing regions in Germany, was hit by a devastating flood that washed away homes, businesses, bridges, roads, and entire communities. Wineries were not spared either, with more than 46 wineries losing their facilities, cellars, wine barrels, machinery, and several hectares of vineyards. What was left were unsellable 200,000 bottles of wine that were stained with mud and dirt. The producers named it “flutwein” (Flood Wine) and started selling them on a crowd-funding platform dedicated to the rebuilding of the wine region. Every bottle symbolized the tragic fate of those winemakers who were involved in the catastrophe, and this platform gave them the opportunity to widely inform the world of the economic devastation that the winemakers were facing. As a result, more people gradually started showing support. With more than one billion media hits, 200,000 bottles of wine were sold to 50,000 supporters.

The sense of loss among the people who were affected by the floods must have been immeasurable. They, however, did not give up and focused on trying to change their situation. Society in turn was drawn by their courage, which is why they tried to help them. Generally speaking, some people would think these muddy wine bottles may be considered too “dirty” to be sold or worthless. From a different perspective, however, these wine bottles survived catastrophic floods—a story that makes them more valuable than a mere commodity. Rather than just being a tear-jerker, its story naturally stirs people's emotions and fosters new values in them, and even the muddy bottle design has come to be appreciated as something unique. The delicate bottles beautifully contrasted with the rough mud on them, giving them a sophisticated design that they were recognized for. This sharp and iconic wine bottle likely had much more value to it in terms of design. The wine became a hot topic, especially among influencers who are particular about design and have avant-garde ideas, and the value of the wine increased by 45 times, eventually raising 4.4 million euros in donations. It is not only an item that could be bought to show your support for rebuilding the region, but it also has a value that leads to self-expression as an item that visualizes one's sophisticated sense of values.

Let's look at a similar initiative taken here in Japan that I'm sure you have heard of. In the summer of 2018, when the torrential rains hit various parts of Japan, Asahi Shuzo in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which was affected by the disaster, began selling sake that was supposed to be discarded as “Fukko-shu” (Recovery Sake) Sold as 200-yen contributions, a total of 580,000 bottles were sold, generating 116 million yen. Similar approaches may follow in the future, but they will most likely not be simple replications. As can be seen in this case, the background story of trying to save people suffering from a disaster can be seen everywhere, but what makes people care about it is that it could happen to them and their surroundings at any time. Putting yourself in their shoes and thinking about how you would feel and act is the narrative, which factors into current communication. This is why this support activity is not only a short-term action of trying to get donations due to being in trouble, but also a variety of actions such as sharing information about the difficulties and evaluating muddy bottles, which in themselves create secondary effects. Indeed, it's just like what we saw with the bottle's value increasing from being appreciated in terms of design. The various values that emerge from the narrative make people think, talk, break existing conventions, and create new rules. This process of creating the new normal can be clearly seen here.

“Dirty but worthy?!” This kind of inversion technique can be a PR hook with top-level impact in terms of capturing people's attention. Next, I'd like to introduce the inversion case, “Go Back to Africa,” which excels with its unique trick of reversing hostile behavior and turning it into something that benefits the target group.

Go Back To Africa

We must not forget the history of more than 12.5 million Africans being taken from their communities and forced to work as slaves between 1525 and 1866. It is unfortunate that the repression continues to this day, with racist slurs such as “Go Back to Africa” being used every three minutes on social platforms alone. It would be nice if these discriminatory terms would be in some way reborn as their exact opposite, which supports the black community.

The measure taken by Black & Abroad, a travel brand for the black community, was truly delightful, turning enemies into allies. When the algorithm detects the hateful slur, “Go Back to Africa,” only the discriminatory part is blacked out and reposted on the official account, with a majestic view of Africa in the background. This means the more hateful people attack with hate speech, the more the system positively encourages travel to Africa. These images also often feature black people enjoying their trip to Africa, and they even helped break down the widespread prejudice that travel is only for white people. The main purpose of this campaign was not actually to correct discrimination. In fact, it aimed to break down two major barriers to a travel agent's marketing challenge in commercializing their products to target African destinations. The first barrier is the widespread misconception that Africa is a dangerous and undesirable destination, and the second is the absence of black travelers in the general image of commercial travel. While addressing these challenges, the company's mission is to strengthen its position as a leader in redefining what world experiences for modern black travelers mean.

The campaign was an attempt to use the phrase “Go Back to Africa” in a different way so it could move away from the considerable negative image it had and spread information about Africa and generate conversations related to it. Using this frequently used slur as an opportunity, it was something you'd see in Aikido, where the opponent's power is used and converted into great power. Because it is a negative but emotional post, its spread is impactful, and using it as an opportunity surely takes a lot of courage. But because they did it with such a fighting spirit, it was a very elaborate strategy that allowed them to show their stance to the black community and make their presence known while also trying to throw out hateful slurs. The results of this campaign were excellent, in terms of brand building with a 315% increase in brand awareness and a double in brand search. In terms of marketing, there was a 60% increase in interest in booking Black & Abroad's trips to Africa, and 88% of viewers said that they were more interested in visiting Africa. And in terms of shifting awareness of discrimination, 89% of viewers said that the campaign has reduced their dislike of the word “Go Back to Africa,” and 52% felt that the word made them feel “hopeful” and “empowered.” Amazingly, now this hateful slur has changed and been replaced with a positive image. The reaction to the campaign in the black community has been almost unanimously positive, with the most common response being “Dope!”

As mentioned at the beginning, the stronger the emotions (anger, doubt, sadness, and dissatisfaction) we feel, the more powerful our output tends to be, and this goes beyond the current case. This may be because the gap between the ideal world and reality is so large that a jump as an idea is necessary, but we only need to look at a few examples to see that the gap is overlooked or treated as nothing by most people. For campaigns, the best precautions should be taken; just as a scalpel inserted into a pus-filled lump can cause severe bleeding and sequelae, a high level of technique is required. One of the reasons why this measure is so appealing is the difference between the emotional creative structure that represents the beautiful African wilderness and the grandeur of the people who enjoy it and the intelligent algorithm as a means of conveying it.

There is a Japanese proverb that says, “If it stinks, put a lid on it,” but examples from around the world such as this initiative show us the strength of energy that comes from the willingness to confront unpleasant things (anger, sadness, and enemies) with ingenuity. Both cases successfully appropriated negative things without diverting their original power by converting them into something valuable, be it something's design or using algorithms to convert negative words into positive words, rather than covering them up. It is like a rap battle in which you capture the butt of negative words directed at you by your opponent, arrange them, and throw them back to say what you want to say in your opponent's field. Let's take a closer look at cases in which a similar skill is really used and the opponent's behavior is reversed again by this Aikido-like way of confronting something.

The “VIENNA strips on OnlyFans,” an initiative by the Vienna Tourist Board, took advantage of their opponent's sales pitch (regulation/censorship) that “nudity in art is pornography” to brilliantly argue their point in a field where the opponent let their guard down.

VIENNA strips on OnlyFans

Vienna, home to some of the world's greatest artworks, has long been a place where numerous artists have fought for freedom of expression. Fast forward 100 years to the present day, when Facebook and Instagram algorithms were banning Viennese artworks by labeling them as pornography. The Vienna Tourist Board's SNA accounts were blocked and the posts were deleted. They had to risk the prestige of these artworks, which are assets of their own country, to make the world recognize their value again. To protest this algorithmic censorship, they released the artworks that were identified as pornographic to OnlyFans, a subscription platform that allows the posting of pornographic content. In response to this bold protest, 2,500 articles were published worldwide, reaching more than 730 million people and sparking great debate.

Major social media algorithms are sometimes buggy, and sometimes they flag artwork as pornographic. In the past, women’s breast cancer testing videos were substituted for male breasts because they were also subject to censorship. Here again, technology sometimes goes too far outside of its original intent. As we become accustomed to convenience and fun, we often cross the uncomfortable line before we know it. This case can give us an opportunity to learn more about this situation. It is highly questionable whether technology can understand art and how it evaluates human aesthetics, artistry, and other things in art. The ingenuity seen in this initiative can also be described as “an eye for an eye, a bug for a bug.” This was a completely new attempt to counter the opponent's (the algorithm's) judgment as a kind of bug by exhibiting artwork on an out-of-place website like OnlyFans. With the contrasting feeling of discomfort, it gives people a chance to think about. This is also a narrative. Moreover, it is an action that would not be possible without a firm respect for artwork, including nudes. This event also probably caused quite a buzz among OnlyFans users. You'd probably ask how this got here and be annoyed when you get pulled back to the real world by suddenly coming across a noble piece of art while enjoying OnlyFans contents. You will stop and feel awkward for a moment while scrolling. The biggest aim was to leave a lot of people feeling uncomfortable. The unexpected action of a government agency creating an account on an adult site is a measure that makes people want to find out why, and it can be said that it is a measure that successfully taps into the psychology of people to want to explore the thoughts and intentions of the subject.

Now, I have said that the level of technology that people can freely exercise and share has risen, and the key to winning is the thoughts and background that motivated the subject. However, as contradictory as it may seem, having a thought for something does not guarantee that people will press the “like” button. The results of a survey of more than 100 NPOs conducted prior to the creation of this site clearly showed this to be an issue. Although there are thoughts and backgrounds that motivated the subject, and how to communicate and how to meet supporters are simultaneous issues that require the ingenuity. Ingenuity is not given only to those with special abilities. There are times when you can see the point of view just a little bit different from what you have seen in the past. Do not give up because you think you have an ordinary point of view. In fact, it is now important to maintain the sense of ordinary people, and to find a point of contact between general interests in the world and my own thoughts with that normal eyes. Even the “normal sense” is changing over time. It is the same as a long-selling product that gradually changes its flavor in line with the tastes of the time without the knowledge of consumers. Although it is small, value shifts are always happening. And in the actions that originate from that point of contact, if you ask yourself what you would think if you were them, you will naturally see your way. This should be the right “ingenuity.” Never think too heavily that you have to come up with some idea and good strategies that no one has thought of before. If it leads to results, it is the right ingenuity, even in the way we have seen before. In order to bring this perspective to people, this site shows a comparison of past cases and the latest initiatives. In a good way, I would like you to understand, acquire, and practice past cases.

Finally, in terms of value transformation, I would like to look back on P&G's Old Spice series, bathing products for men, as a successful example of a product that has drastically changed the image of its traditional products. In this category, Unilever dominates the market, and Old Spice had a strong image as a product for the elderly, and a major image change was desired. Old Spice products were manufactured and marketed by Shulton Company which was founded in 1934, initially for women, and later for men which were launched in 1938. It is truly a long-established brand. Despite the acquisition by P&G in 1990 and its attempt to take steps toward expanding into new markets, the market was already dominated by Unilever's AXE, a brand for young people, with a primary target of 12-24 years old. The reason is because of its old-fashioned image. Therefore, in 2010, at the time of the Super Bowl, a commercial for a major image change was aired. “The Man your Man could smell like,” which cast Isaiah Mustafa, a former NFL star as Old Spice Guy.

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Nowadays, some of the stereotypical way of appealing may be difficult to accept. The video shows a tremendous amount of words and visual gimmicks packed into a mere 30 seconds, and certainly you cannot take your eyes off even one second. But it is not just a humorous ad. Commercials for men's products usually consist of messaging for men, but the target he is appealing to is not the men, but the women who are next to men. The strategies such as indirectly reach out to influential consumers around the main target and to position the product differently from the competing product AXE, are incorporated in various places, and are well-calculated from a marketing perspective. Of course, the content of the commercial itself is enhanced by the strength of the visuals of Mustafa and the tagline at the end of the commercial, but it can be said that it is an outstanding piece of work that transcends technicalities to create a sense of unity in the surrounding strategy.

Old Spice (2011)

The brand Old Spice continues to use the character called Old Spice Guy, played by Mustafa, from the following year onward. In 2011, a video was produced and posted through social media in which the Old Spice Guy personally answered questions and tweets from fans. Moreover, the response video was filmed and posted in real time, and the number of responses was 186 in 2.5 days. Talking to individual consumers personally through online maybe originated from “The Subservient Chicken,” a website created by Burger King in 2004. When you order chickens online, a person dressed as a chicken will perform in front of webcam. He dances when told to dance, and sings when told to sing. The character quickly became an independent character, with just under 400 million hits, and began to appear on a number of TV shows and other media. It broke out of the framework of campaign and began to run on its own that advertises the brand even if it was left unattended. Over the next nearly 10 years, this beloved character has appeared in several campaigns.

The Old Spice method took this interactivity a step further and established it as a modern way to utilize social media. This also resulted in online mentions from 300 million consumers, a 2,700% increase in Twitter followers, a 300% increase in visits to owned sites, and 40 million YouTube views within a week. In 2018, Old Spice Guy played by Mustafa appeared in another P&G brand advertisement “It's Another Tide Ad.” This one is also used in a hack context with a production that fits his character perfectly. It is a good example of starting with a classic commercial, then real-time response, then hacks, and successfully following, evolving, and expanding the impact of Art & Copy that was first constructed according to the times. If we were to dismiss these measures as just interesting, that would be the end of the story, but as you can see, there is a pile of detailed calculations behind these measures. The fact that ideas that have been developed in the past can be refined to suit the times and it will make you feel that the human feelings are not so much different. Old Spice teaches us the essence that people are always moved by communication in which they feel the warmth of the other person regardless of the era.

According to Japan’s recently released total advertising expenditures in 2022, the year recorded the highest, and the forecast for growth through 2025 is also showing excellent predictions of steady growth. It could be a good idea to evolve traditional methods like Old Spice, or use technology to inject new stories into words like “Go Back to Africa.” On the other hand, the world is also full of unconscious bias, which tends to be strongly avoided as being prehistoric. It is possible to be so focused on the art of expression that one becomes strained by that bias. However, as long as we live, it is difficult to completely eliminate the various biases within us. However, there may be a first step that begins by noticing our own bias. Delicious wine, beautiful African wilderness, proud artworks and funny videos can be shared by taste, by sight, with all five senses. Sharing common items as positive experiences is one way to overcome such prejudice, and I think we are in a position to accelerate and expand this movement through communication. “Feel our vibes, then feel your bias.” Feeling the same vibes is the way to realize the bias within ourselves, and once we break through it, we will find a fascinating world.


We interviewed over 100 nonprofits,

and found that communication barriers are hindering new connections.