We interviewed the production team behind "TOD'S x Hender Scheme Collaboration 21 AW", AOI Global's first direct-to-client project for an overseas client. The project had two clients and brought new challenges including opening an official Twitter account for the client as well as working without an agency. Let's dig into the details of how the team made it all possible.

MATSUMOTO: Account Service Manager
IWASA: Creative Producer
ODE: Coordinator
NARITA: Production Manager
SATO: Production Manager

— First off, please tell us how you got the job.

MATSUMOTO: I was first connected with TOD'S JAPAN through the sales staff of the AOI Global team. We introduced a wide range of services to the client beyond film production, such as how to tackle issues as a brand, how to communicate with customers, and how to utilize social media. Since they were interested in opening up a Twitter account, we designed the project to clearly define the kind of account TOD'S should have, how their competing brands are using social media, and how to set a target number for the follower count. Then in March of 2021, we successfully launched their Twitter account.

IWASA: After that, TOD'S told us that they had an upcoming collaboration project for 21AW, and they put us in touch with their Italian headquarters, which led us to receive this job. Mr. Matsumoto joined the company last year, and thanks to him, we were able to expand the scope of our work to include not only film production, which we have been doing for a long time, but also put in place the process leading up to a film.

— Can you give us a brief overview of the team structure?

IWASA: This project was a collaboration between TOD'S from Italy and Hender Scheme from Japan, so it was a two-client project. Since there was no agency involved, we communicated directly with them as we proceeded with the project. Mr. Kashiwazaki, Hender Scheme's designer, came up with the core idea for the creative, and we had to work on how to incorporate the idea into the film, so we were responsible for developing a solid foundation for the idea.

— Tell us how you created the Rube Goldberg machine.

NARITA: Mr. Kashiwazaki was inspired by the many dots on the sole of Gommini, an iconic TOD'S product, and came up with the core idea of creating a machine in which the dot rolls around and interact with the product. Next, we worked with the director to create the blueprints and storyboards and then assembled the device with the artist and special effects team. The machine itself was not that complicated, but we were determined to set up an organic flow. For example, instead of the model spontaneously picking up an unmoving bag, the model's hand would be just in place to pick up the bag as it falls into their hand.

— What was important to you when communicating with clients?

MATSUMOTO: The most important thing is to clarify what the client is looking for. To identify the creative line that would satisfy them. We made sure to have comprehensive conversations with the client and bounce ideas off of them. This is very important because once you know that line, you can determine what is lacking or exceeding.

ODE: Detailed expressions within the film involved some intuitive aspects, so when communicating with overseas clients, I made an effort to make sure that I correctly understood what needed to be conveyed. I believe we made this possible because we could communicate closely in both Japanese and English. We tried to be as clear and concise as possible in our delivery and were very happy when people were pleased with our communication.

SHIGENOBU: Generally, the roles of hearing the client's request and communicating it to the staff are divided between the agency and production company. But in direct-to-client projects like this, we had to play those two roles at once, so I made sure to keep a good balance between responding to the client's needs and not putting too much pressure on the staff on set. 

— On the other hand, what was the best thing about working directly with the clients?

SATO: We were able to talk directly with the designers and PR team. We visited their facilities and could get a first-hand explanation of the product. It was a great opportunity for us to get in touch with the core of the brand, as it's not very common we get to have this experience.

NARITA: I felt that we were working as a team with our clients until the very end. I was very happy when I directly received the words "Fantastic!" and "Thank you" after the work was completed. I think this feeling is not something you can experience in typical projects.

— What aspects of this project do you think were only possible thanks to AOI Global?

IWASA: I think that it would not have been possible without AOI Global to provide an environment where we could take on the challenge of working directly with overseas clients. I also think that the fact that we were able to meet the conditions within a short timeline was due to the experience and staff resources that AOI has cultivated over the years. 

ODE: I believe the fact that most of the team is bilingual is a big factor. In this project, I was in charge of the communication with TOD'S in Italy, and was able to share the feedback within our team immediately as well as with the Japanese staff to respond quickly.

NARITA: In this kind of project, it is necessary to not only interpret what is said, but also understand the client's background and values. AOI Global has members with various backgrounds. I think we were able to realize this project because we have a good understanding of different cultures and perspectives.