Hideoki & Co. is celebrating their 30th year in business, and over the years the company has evolved quite a bit. They've changed their name to emphasize their expanded creative and research capabilities. AdForum caught up with Mitsu Hagiwara, Hideoki’s CEO and Maria Hagiwara, Managing Partner at Hideoki, to discuss the company’s roots, where it’s going, and what makes Hideoki & Co unique in the production space.
Mitsu Hagiwara, CEO & Executive Producer took the reins from his father Hideoki Hagiwara in 2005. He has been exposed to his father’s work ever since he was younger and so it was a natural move for him to take the business over. Mitsu’s natural knack with people earned more clients who trusted the company with bigger and significant projects. So much so that the company has evolved beyond production.
Maria Hagiwara, Managing Partner & Executive producer joined the company in 2015 after 15 years of working for large investment banking firms. She ran her own branding and IT company and shared an office with Mitsu. It was only a matter of time that they combined forces. Maria rebranded the company to include creative and copywriting as part of the company’s core services.
How did Hideoki & Co. get it’s start? What led to the birth of the company?
Hideoki Hagiwara founded the company in 1989. In Japan, he was a well-known photographer and director of photography. He was the second Japanese photographer who received commissions from Harpers Bazaar in the late ‘60s. When he returned to New York, he was inundated with requests from Japanese companies for commercial and advertising work in the US. His aesthetic sensibilities, unparalled client relationship and ability to deliver amazing work led to the creation of the company.
Is there guiding ethos that Hideoki & Co. uses in its approach to work? Has this changed over the years?
For 30 years, we have lived by the same ethos of hard work, creativity and integrity. It’s a Hideoki & Co. culture that allowed us to go beyond providing the best possible solutions for our clients. It is important that we approach each work with the purpose of adding real value in every project we are involved with.
Hence, with the values ingrained in our DNA, we continue to expand our production world as proactive co-creators keeping our clients’ goals and furthering their purpose on a global scale. We are moving forward with the same guiding principles now and always.
After 30 years in production, Hideoki recently rebranded to Hideoki & Co to reflect an increased scope of capabilities. How did this evolution come about?
Thirty years is a long time. As a small, independent company, this is an achievement. We wanted to celebrate 3 decades in the business with a new name and to reflect how we have reimagined our company with our clients in mind. We have outgrown our old name Hideoki Productions as we have expanded our work beyond producing visual content. We have foreseen the need for good copywriting and intelligent research. As such, we have transformed ourselves and on our 30th year, we thought it was the best time to give us a new name: Hideoki & Co.
What would you say have been some of your company’s greatest milestones thus far?
We’ve done some impressive work from production to envisioning what mobility and future cities might look like in 2030. Reaching 30 years as an independent boutique production company is a milestone. Evolving from producing film and stills to a creative and insight research house working with top agencies, talent and brand are all great milestones – including big and small projects.
“Filmed New York-based iconic hip hop icons, DJ Kool Herc and Pete Rock.”
With over 20 years at Hideoki, how do you keep the work fresh and yourself inspired?
I get my inspiration from three main things: work, play and family. For work, technology and new creative ideas are constantly being invented, so all I can do to have a basic knowledge of what’s new and what’s coming down the pipeline. In that sense, going to CES, SXSW and, to an extent, Cannes Lions helps to keep me excited and engaged. Since we have 3 kids ranging from 7-10 years old, they are a wealth of knowledge about what is cool and upcoming in the younger generation. In the future, I have a feeling they will be my most valuable assets in terms of keeping me up-to-date with new, cool things. Play gets me out into the world and let’s my mind go free. Without that, all this info wouldn’t have a place to coalesce in my mind and have any sort of influence on my work and life.
What separates Hideoki from other production companies? Why do clients choose you over your competitors?
Trust, integrity, reliability and all that good stuff. We also feel our clients’ pulse. We are traditional with our values, yet forward-thinking when it comes to ideas. Hideoki & Co. is a family-owned business and our clients are treated like family. Business relationships turn to lasting friendships.
In your opinion, what’s been the most major change in the advertising industry that you’ve seen? What do you think is next big shift to come?
The most major change in the industry has been the shift of voice from brands to people. Campaigns are focused on people – what matters and what they stand for. Brands support the voices of the people. It used to be the other way around. Now that the world is blurring the lines between humans and technology, the next big shift will be the voice of artificial intelligence. It’s important that we never lose humanity in the voice of technology and that technology should be used as a tool to elevate the purpose of humanity.
In your mind, what does the future of Hideoki & Co. look like?
Hideoki will remain as a personable, production boutique with high profile projects. Indeed, we are a small, efficient team able to handle big ideas and large amount of work and we thrive, with our clients’ success in mind. We continue to become a more globalized entity, not only delivering best-in-class visual content, intelligent research studies, but also to produce work that is universal and relevant, and with the most compelling copywriting.