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How Wunderman helped Microsoft’s artistic side bloom

Wunderman International Japan joined forces with teamLab, a digital artist group, to use Windows products in the creation of a signature, mind-bending piece of art. This foray was also done to highlight Microsoft’s ‘enabling creative’ side.

teamLab used devices installed with the Windows operating system (OS), such as the Surface Pro 3, to create and power an interactive art installation called Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together — Kunisaki Peninsula. Millions of pieces of complex data were constantly processed to render an enormous real-time installation of ‘living’ flowers. It debuted at the Kunisaki Art Festival in Japan.

Research showed that when choosing an OS or device, Japanese consumers prefer brands with an innovative or stylish image, regardless of functionality or ease of use.This posed a challenge for Microsoft, whose Windows brand was primarily associated with functional, corporate use—effective but not necessarily inspiring innovation or creativity. Instead, Apple’s Mac was viewed as the leader in creative devices. This perception needed to change.

Wunderman International Japan’s challenge was to start changing the consumers’impression of Microsoft Windows from a brand that is needed to a brand that is desired, and prove that there are infinite possibilities for creativity with the Windows OS.

Wunderman International Japan decided to bring the product back to its roots, emphasising Microsoft’s role as an enabler of exceptional creativity. Instead of taking a conventional advertising approach, Wunderman approached renowned technological and digital artist group teamLab to help it tell an authentic story with innovations that were actually happening in the creative industry.

teamLab has always used Windows in its interactive art to construct and control its works. teamLab president Toshiyuki Inoko, a TV personality and household name in Japan, stated that it always chooses “the most powerful devices in the world” to create its art. Involving huge spaces and real-time rendered projections, teamLab’s work is heavily dependent on the machines chosen, making it the perfect partner for Wunderman’s campaign.

Devices that are installed with the Windows OS have high extensibility and synergy between GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) and CPUs (Central Processing Units) due to their DirectX technology. teamLab took advantage of these abilities to realise a space with innumerable digital flowers, rendered in realtime.

Projected across 147,000 square meters of screen, audiences were surrounded by a year’s bloom cycle of flowers native to Japan’s Kunisaki Peninsula, where the piece debuted. As visitors approached the screens, the flowers reacted to the viewer’s movements, withering and blooming in turn. All of the necessary processing, graphics generation and sensors for the entire installation were controlled by only nine devices that were running the Windows OS, including the Surface Pro 3.

“Microsoft’s data processing power was integral to the installation. Sensors and simultaneous processing were required for a visceral, intimate experience and interaction between the art and visitors. Without data, it would have simply been a prerecorded projection mapping or visual display,” said Kei Yashiro, Associate Creative Director, Wunderman International Japan.

The installation was part of the Kunisaki Art Festival, held by Oita Prefecture and the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan.

The ‘Flowers and People’ campaign’s tagline is ‘Break the existing Coolness’, which calls for users to demolish their preconceived notions of what’s cool and question the way they choose brands.

The installation by teamLab attracted 60,000 people to Kunisaki in just two months. It was such a success that it is now a permanent exhibit. It has since toured Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York, bringing to life billions of flowers to date.In Tokyo alone, more than 300,000 people have attended thus far.

Earned media included three top TV programs, coverage in three magazines and more than 61 online media outlets, which brought huge awareness to teamLab’s success with Microsoft devices on a media budget of zero dollars.

“Flowers and People” even received coverage in one of the most popular Mac magazines in Japan, which published an article on Microsoft Windows and devices,telling its 100k readership to forget their iPhones and experience Microsoft’s true creative capabilities. That’s a strong endorsement from fans of the defacto leader in creative consumer technology.

Kei Yashiro, Wunderman International Tokyo, Creative Director
Elina Shima, Wunderman International Tokyo, Art Director
Anne Rihi, Wunderman International Tokyo, Senior Copywriter
Fuyuko Oshiro, Wunderman International Tokyo, Senior Account Executive
teamLab Inc


Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.