TBWA\Hakuhodo Mobile Japan

From vertical video to retinal projections: TBWA\Hakuhodo says content has to go native


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

May 13, 2016 | 5 min read

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just have to give in and accept that the thing you spent a long time designing isn’t being received how you want it. Nike has pretty much given up on getting the British to pronounce its brand name properly. The same rule applies to technology, once released into the ether, it’s up to users to decide. Afterall, the customer is always right.

Lyrical School Run and Run by TBWA\Hakuhodo

This was the basis of an insight that drove TBWA\Hakuhodo to rethink how it approached the music video in a project for King Records and its artists Lyrical School. After noticing that most of the target audience didn’t put their phone into horizontal when watching videos on their phone, they decided to use that as the narrative for the entire piece of content.

To see the video in all its glory, make sure you are viewing on your mobile phone.

The Drum spoke to TBWA\Hakuhodo creative director Satoshi Chikayama about the campaign and why it’s important to understand the environment of content.

The Drum: The approach to video is different to what we’d expect – what’s the background to the idea?

Chikayama: The first music videos made in a vertical, smartphone-friendly version were starting to be released in Japan last year. However, these were not actually made specifically for the vertical screen but rather were still being made to fit within the parameters of the classic 16:9 ratio of the horizontal screen.

We wondered how a truly smart phone screen-dedicated music video might actually look and what kind of new experiences it could provide. That was the seed of our idea.

The Drum: Why is it important for it to be so ‘native’ for mobile? Why wouldn’t people turn the phone round?

Chikayama: Japanese youth in particular are now obtaining the overwhelming majority of their information and content via smartphones. That includes TV programming, social media, the web and music videos too, of course.

No matter how sleek or grand in scale a music video may be, it will still invariably be consumed through the smartphone screen. This isn’t necessarily a limitation – rather we saw it as an opportunity. After all, a bigger screen does not necessarily mean 'better' does it?

Following this line of reasoning, we released a music video specifically tailored for an optimum viewing experience on your small smartphone screen, which provides a unique and addictive experience for young users and anticipating that the topic would naturally cause a buzz. That was our thinking.

TBWA\Hakuhodo Lyrical School mobile native music video

Lyrical School music video
Lyrical School music video
Lyrical School music video
Lyrical School music video
Lyrical School music video
Lyrical School music video
Lyrical School - Run and Run

The Drum: How did this approach change other aspects in the creative process?

Chikayama: The music video was filmed in two levels.

The first step was to was film the artists, Lyrical School, in the usual studio setting.

The second was to film the studio footage as it was streamed on a smartphone screen. We used captures to fine-tune the timings and interactions of the artists and their movements as they‘ flow’ through various apps and SNS.

However, we did away with any post-film editing or effects to convey the highest possible sense of reality. It is as if the music video is actually ‘taking place’ on your smartphone screen. Rather than image resolution, we chose a sense of reality. This was our biggest creative challenge regarding this project.

The Drum: Will we see more of this? Should more creative be made for mobile in this way?

Chikayama: We expect smartphone-friendly creative content to continue to increase. That said, we never know if smartphones will continue to be used vertically and held in one hand. They may take the shape of glasses, or project images directly on your retina?

Technologies continue to advance, and so should creative content. Instead of brushing-up existing techniques, we believe new ideas that will excite the audience should be created.

TBWA\Hakuhodo Mobile Japan

More from TBWA\Hakuhodo

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +