Dentsu showcases 120 years of impact at Cannes Lions 2024

CANNES, FRANCE — On June 17, a packed audience at the Debussy Theater at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity witnessed creative agency dentsu take the stage to celebrate its 120th anniversary with the theme, “Innovating to Impact.”

Dentsu’s President and Global CEO, Hiroshi Igarashi, began by sharing how he has been with Dentsu for 40 years and quipped that his long tenure is normal in Japan. He mentioned that the agency opened its doors in 1901 with its founder and first president, Hoshio Mitsunaga, whose statement, “I was prepared to sacrifice myself for the sake of the news and advertising businesses,” is duly remembered by the agency’s workforce.

A hundred and twenty years on, the agency is paving the way for the industry’s future with a sharp and relentless focus on innovation and impact. “Innovation will drive the impact for them, for people, and for society as a whole, and impact is a point at which a simple idea becomes a global mass movement,” Hiroshi shared, explaining that innovation at the core of their operations will help them lead and take them into a new market and new categories.


Yasuharu Sasaki, Global Chief Creative Officer at Dentsu, was also present at the conference and shared that dentsu sees technology as a channel to shape new experiences that bridge the physical and digital world. He also revealed his five guiding principles for innovating to impact:

  • Respect the past to create the future
  • Have an outlier perspective
  • Discover new emotions and connections
  • Mix. Augment. Make New.
  • Use technology to augment our humanity

Connecting to these guiding principles, the agency showcased its globally recognized work from Dentsu labs, including its project for Hugtics, a wearable device that creates an unprecedented experience of giving oneself a hug; Open Meals, an initiative that revolutionizes food creation; The Unfiltered History Tour with VICE World News; the Sound of Honda / Ayrton Senna 1989 campaign, a digital restoration of the world’s fastest lap, and a virtual-reality music video filmed with Smashing Pumpkins, titled “Aeronaut.”

Furthermore, Naoki Tanaka, Dentsu Lab Tokyo’s Chief Creative Officer, presented their company’s landmark initiative, “Project Humanity.” In this project, Dentsu Lab Tokyo joined forces with NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone). It created technology that helped people with ALS regain physical freedom through electrical signals generated when muscles are moved, where they can freely manipulate physically through the digital space.

With exuberance, Yasu announced that Dentsu Labs, its innovation proposition whose mission is to innovate the human experiences and move people, business, and society, is expanding the pioneering Dentsu Lab Tokyo (founded in 2014) to London, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, with further global expansion planned in 2025. Sven Huberts is identified as the leader of this growth alongside Naoki.

Dentsu ended the session with Hiroshi, who encouraged audiences to imagine and create incredible impact for brands, for people, and for the good of society.

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