Are advertisers key to the future? Yuya Furukawa, chief creative officer at Dentsu thinks so and, having listened to his D&AD President’s Lecture last night, I’d be inclined to agree.

The traditional advertising agency no longer exists; agencies now cover such a plethora of disciplines that they can no longer really be defined by their outputs or creativity, and indeed they shouldn’t strive to be. The latter sentiment isn’t new – as Furukawa himself pointed out, Al Gore and Bill Clinton have both tried to inspire the creative industry to focus on driving social change rather than creative ideas. What was interesting last night though was that in the quest to make a change, advertisers are arguably becoming the most creative they’ve ever been. 

The campaign Dentsu created for Matsuko Deluxe was perhaps the best example of this shown last night. 

The android version of Matsuko Deluxe the team created (Matsukoroid) and debuted alongside the real life star (see both above) in a TV chat show was a media hit – generating over $200m in media exposure for the star. However, more importantly it provided a real-life insight for the public into how far the technology has come and how they could interact with androids in the future.

Another robot example on show last night was Pepper – the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans. Designed not to replace humans but interact with them, Pepper is another great example of Furukawa’s theory that campaigns such as the one for Matsuko Deluxe work because the creativity creates an unexpected moment.

These unexpected moments aren’t limited to AI though. Dentsu’s work on Tokoyo 2020 and the way they are creating a campaign to turn the new stadium into a cultural landmark beyond the games is a classic example of how a well-executed idea can deliver wider value.

This value was at the heart of Furukawa’s belief that advertisers can change the world;  he closed on the idea that as ‘new age’ advertisers we are in the best place to change our world as there isn’t an occupation that doesn’t require the unique blend of skills that result in our creativity. Will the wider industry buy into this or will they simply see it as another piece of advertising hype?  Based on last night’s talk, I’d say advertisers have the skills to convince the wider Business world, whether they will or not is another matter.