AOY Insights is a new content series celebrating some of the top wins from Campaign Asia-Pacific’s Agency of the Year awards. Join us as we take a closer look at the entries that struck gold this year.
Category: Best Place to Work – Japan/Korea
Key clients: Nike, Ikea, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Audi, HP, PCA
New clients this year: Suntory, Kodansha, CJ Foods
Highlights: Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo is not considered a Japanese advertising agency. Nor is it an American one. It is a hybrid — in the agency’s own words, “a blend of Japanese, Korean, and foreigner insight and talent.”
This collision of cultures allows W+K Tokyo to get to work that has deep meaning, relevance and resonance that goes beyond just advertising.
As agency founder Dan Wieden said “Diversity is like dining. If you eat the same oatmeal every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you probably understand oatmeal. But you don’t understand the variety of life and the diversity of opinions and cultures that change the way you look at the world.”
This year — W+K’s 40th anniversary — the agency brought even more clarity in its intentional approach to diversity and inclusion. They focused on creating a shared, consistent, accountable approach to truly being an equitably, inclusive, and diverse company.
The aim was for people to feel the W+K difference from the jump — that the agency is all about the people and their voices.
For 2022, W+K focused on evolving all of W+K’s structures and systems, creating more consistency around the entire W+K network, to better serve its talent and business needs.
One of the first initiatives was rewriting W+K’s global culture mission:
“To create an environment where different people with different voices can bring their whole selves, can take risks, can grow — culturally, emotionally, professionally — and, ultimately, do the best work of their lives.”
At the beginning of the year W+K Tokyo defined their creative ambition with six key pillars which have also shaped their employee engagement strategy this year:
- Creativity Needs Experimentation
- Creativity Needs Process
- Creativity Needs Growth
- Creativity Needs Focus
- Creativity Needs Rest
- Creativity Needs Fun
As a result, this meant market-adjusting employees’ salary level and employing an independent compensation consultant to revisit pay bands and compensation philosophy — all in the service of equity, talent growth and retention.
W+K Tokyo’s team is made up of 17 different nationalities — 63% of the staff are Japanese and 37% from overseas — with a variety of programs initiated to improve culture and create a true sense of belonging. This ranges from having a full-time Cultural Adaptation team who ensure all office communication is done bilingually and interpreting cultural differences to providing training and career development opportunities. English and Japanese lessons are provided to staff with language learners buddied together.
Staff learning and development growth is provided both on an individual and agency-wide level. Brainmart, a monthly series of talks, was launched to provide inspiration around the process of different creative people.
Culture outings and department offsites have restarted after Covid restrictions eased. Highlights included Onobori Monsters, where three “Onobori (“out of town visitors”) are sent each quarter on a mission to discover a less-visited part of Japan, and a two-day glamping trip to the countryside to celebrate Wieden+Kennedy’s 40th Founder’s Day and 24th year in Japan.
Such initiatives help W+K Tokyo “walk their talk” when it comes to culture.
Judges say: W+K Tokyo was seen as having an inspirational vision with clarity on how to create a culture of enhancement. The agency was further praised for its “modern and relevant solutions to work-life balance challenges” and its holistic view of employee engagement. “I would love to work at W+K Tokyo!” said one judge.
W+K Tokyo also won silver for ‘Independent Agency of the Year’ in Japan and Korea.