A release on the Dentsu Outdoor Gallery (D.O.G. from here on out) landed in my urbanebloc email awhile back, and there was something about it that I couldn’t shy my eyes away from. They were inviting, colourful and sharp banners on display that held so much creative promise that I couldn’t help but revisit it time and time again in digital form. Lucky for me, I went to the source of all this inspiration and imagination, and had the opportunity to speak with Creative Director of Dentsu Canada (www.dentsucanada.com), Glen Hunt.
- What is the creative nature of the Dentsu brand?
The goal is to create something that connects with people – any brand tries to express itself in a way that communicates, connects, and inspires people to take action. At Dentsu we focus on something we call “the core truth”. It’s an internal tuning fork that when heard by customers, rings and makes a sound as an internal truth.We’re our own brand, our goal is to express who we are. That’s where characters like Walksabi come into play. The concept behind Wasabi is that only a little bit is needed to have a big impact – the same is true of great advertising. If you find something that resonates, it can have more influence in communicating with an audience.
We took wasabi and turned it into something more – usually it’s inanimate, but we wanted to give it life and personality. It’s not science, we want it to be connective and human. Maybe that’s why we turned him into a bobble body.
- Dentsu Outdoor Gallery, or D.O.G. Why paint the imagery of a dog?
We’re always looking to find something that’s fun and approachable – isn’t that exactly what a dog is? It simplifies and it’s fun and friendly. There was the idea kicking around that we would have an agency dog, a bulldog named Dentsu. A British bulldog with a Japanese name
- The D.O.G. pieces are unabashed and not afraid of colour. Why did you take on such a vibrant direction?
Dentsu used to be located at St. Clair and Yonge, which is a pretty beige area. When we moved downtown to King Street we had a street presence. King Street is for visitors to the city – crowds come in to see plays and for entertainment, we wanted to add some energy and colour. We wanted to adorn the building so it would stand out, and show we’re here to stay.
- You chose to showcase Canadian artists of all ranges. First, why did you choose to use a collective, and secondly, how did you pick and choose artists to showcase?
The artists are all Canadian because there’s just so much creative genius that comes out of this country. It’s a collective because it keeps things fresh and new (we’re hoping to rotate every 3 months or so).
At the end of the day, we’re all human anthropologists – we have different languages and voices, we express our messages in so many different ways.
The theme of the gallery is more guerilla style and authentic. We’re not looking for fine art, but more mash ups and showcasing artists with visceral energy towards what they’re creating. It’s downtown artistry
- What has your role been as creative director on the D.O.G. project and at Dentsu Canada?
Rather than a Creative Director, they call me the “Creative Catalyst”. I find ways to create impact and get messages out, to connect with people wherever possible. With D.O.G., we didn’t want to just put out a message about ourselves, but wanted to use this as an avenue to extend beyond that.
We believe that every place where we can situate a message is a potential medium for connection
- You say in your profile on the Dentsu site, “Better a fearful end than an endless fear” – how does that apply to your day to day. Did it apply to D.O.G.?
Ah, that was a line from my dad, and I thought it was very telling. The only thing that stops us from going is fear – facing those fears is a way of constantly expanding. Instead of worrying about what people think, we say “instead of worrying about something, why don’t we do something”. We think of ourselves as the do-ers. There’s no sense in sitting and talking forever about whether something is right or wrong – just do it.
- Creativity and innovation are words that are thrown around these days. We know they’re important, but how do we keep them in constant exercise? Maybe with the help of a little Wasabi?
Innovation is going through fear to go to the other side, to find things that people haven’t done before or thought about. Things are constantly changing, and what was once unique becomes regular. Find a unique way to inspire and trigger. Always think about “the purple cow” – when you stumble upon it, you’ll know it’s something special.
- I’m so interested to hear what your take on social media is.
Giving people power is phenomenal – but it’s a power that needs to be directed. Ultimately, people will take over, but they have to have a reason. It can’t just be thrown out there. People are overwhelmed these days, they don’t need another reason to have a communication about something that doesn’t matter to them. It has to affect them in a positive way. Social media on its own isn’t impactful, but to connect people with something that they care to connect with, it is. If you’re just there to be there, don’t be there – it’s not meaningful and it’s not genuine.
- What’s Dentsu up to these days – you’ve got so many great clients and brands under your name, what’s going on with you?
We’ve got six executions on the go with many new opportunities coming in. We’re finding new ways to connect with people and with us, searching through culture and treads. We recently completed a project with Sunnybrook Hospital which was extremely meaningful and had high personal impact. Much on the go – we’re addicted to watching the world adopt and change. Big things in the new year!
Give the gallery a visit at 276 King Street West. Also check out the gallery below for the sweet Walksabi in bobble-body form. Thanks Diana and Glen!
FYI: D.O.G. is currently showcasing eepmon (eepmon.com). Eric Sze-Lang Chan is a Canadian based multi-disciplinary artist who takes interest in exploring the creative intersections between the visual-arts and various forms of multimedia. He is constantly searching – searching the means to realize his work at its fullest potential. Eric is a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts for Art Bank Purchase (2009), Computer Arts – Excellence Award for Illustration in the International Graduate Showcase (2008) and FITC 2006 Best Canadian Student. In the Fall of 2010, Eric will have his major solo show at the Ottawa Contemporary Art Gallery.
> gallery images from dentsucanada, walksabi photos from me