TOKYO: Insurance giant AIG considers diversity not to be a flash-in-the-pan marketing trend so much as an area vitally important to the overall success of the business in conservative Japan, according to a leading executive.

Matthew Walker, Senior Vice President and Regional Chief Marketing Officer of AIG Japan, believes a purpose-driven brand campaign requires brands to be living the values they espouse. And since AIG has been participating in Pride events in Japan for a long time, the recent launch of a pro-LGBT diversity campaign was a natural extension.

“You need to be careful about this sort of opportunistic marketing (and) jumping on bandwagons,” Walker told the recent Advertising Week Asia conference. “We were really careful; however, we were also very mindful that Japan is a very homogeneous society, and we wanted to do it in the right way.”

Partnering with the world champion All Blacks and Black Ferns rugby teams – ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan – was seen as a perfect fit. (For more on AIG’s strategy, read WARC’s report: AIG Japan partners with New Zealand’s All Blacks in brand purpose drive.)

“The insight was all the colours (together) create black, and the All Blacks have all black jerseys and uniforms. And the result of that was creating a material that was all black, but when pulled and tugged – which happens frequently in rugby – the colours of the rainbow show up,” Walker explained.

“We actually have a material here that literally represents diversity. It’s really amazing how an idea or an insight can come together - the largest part of this conversation today is what innovations can come out of more people thinking (diversely),” he added, crediting the company’s creative agency TBWA\HAKUHODO for the idea.

“The idea of having the All Blacks and Black Ferns normalising these issues and both appearing on the same billboard was one of these things. But the other thing was really creating real-world stories and personalities around each of these issues. You’ll see someone bi-racial, you’ll see the first Japanese sumo wrestler who’s transgender and an albino,” Walker continued.

“We have started a lot more conversations which, in many ways, is more important in some regards and much more rewarding. But also from a corporate level, it’s made us realise what is possible and really inspired a lot of us around the power of diversity,” he said.

Sourced from WARC