LOS ANGELES — You may wonder what sushi has to do with Oishii Creative’s (www.oishiicreative.com) approach as a creative agency. Oishii is Japanese for “delicious” — a word, which this studio has redefined as “having fun, but creating serious work” for its clients in broadcast, advertising, print, digital and video games.
Oishii’s president/creative director Ismael Obregon believes that exceptional design, like food, is essential to life. Food can communicate and recall memories in its staple form. Take sushi, for instance. There’s functionality in its design, and there’s an art to its creation. Which is why sushi is also the company’s logo. Sushi needs to look appealing and taste delicious. A core component of the strategic thinking behind the creative agency’s work is that the end result looks great, but also serves the larger goal visually. This comes from a deep understanding and study of both its clients’ needs and the current market trends.
In the past 10 years, Oishii Creative has collaborated with a number of global brands and clients, including Discovery Channel, NFL Network, ESPN, EA, Disney and Shell. It has won industry recognition for its integrated media campaigns, promos, graphics packages and print work.
“Oishii was formed to create an environment where every person — from our clients to vendors to freelancers — can feel they’re working with family,” says Obregon. “We take our relationships very seriously. At the five-year mark, we did an in-depth analysis with our clients to identify our strengths and weaknesses, and to gain insight into how they envisioned the future of the industry. Communication is the pinnacle of our success at Oishii Creative. Our greatest ideas and design solutions always come from our conversations with clients.”
The studio is physically divided into two sections: the Left Brain, which houses the creative teams, and the Right Brain, which includes the business operations. However, both groups come together for regular brainstorming sessions to share as many perspectives as possible. Obregon brings his experience as a mentor and educator, as well as his love for cognitive science, to guide his team through the problem-solving process. Working like a reverse spider web from the outer edge to the center, it’s how Oishii zeroes in on that best design for its clients.
Whether it’s connecting with the highbrow art world or the down-and-dirty sport of American football, Oishii excels at creating work for a diverse range of clients. The agency recently won awards for its work on Ovation, which involved developing a visual identity representing the diverse nature of art and contemporary culture that would function across all platforms. In addition to a new logo mark, Oishii provided the network with a whole new look, including website, IDs, promos, interstitials, stunts and other supporting launch materials.
For Ovation’s boxed set of programming DVDs, the agency wanted to do something completely unique from the typical format. After an in-depth assessment, Oishii took an inventive approach, considering the use of materials just like an artist would. They created an origami-inspired design, constructed from a single piece of recyclable paper, and held together by the folds, not with glue or staples. Oishii engaged three different vendors in order to achieve this never-been-done-before custom design. The art sculpture springs open, surprising the recipient and delivering on the promise of “Art like never before. TV like nothing else.” Within the opened piece are five DVDs, each with a unique sleeve and disc design. The modular approach allows Ovation to update the content as needed without redesigning the packaging.
For the NFL Network “Weeks” campaign, the goal was to drive new viewers to the multitude of programming, information and resources provided by the network throughout the NFL post season. The client was looking for a system that was flexible, adaptable, timely and compatible with After Effects and Final Cut. The ever-changing, unscripted drama of the sport required the promos and graphics to be constantly updated. Oishii developed a comprehensive toolkit that marries high production value and cinematic quality with an updatable After Effects template. This untraditional approach allows for a seamless integration of the footage with the graphical device – so seamless that viewers can’t tell where an insert was created within the promo. The piece was so effective it became a brand spot for NFL Network across multiple networks.
As seen in examples of its work, it is evident that Oishii demands a high caliber of performance from its technology. However, the agency never starts a project by placing technology at the forefront.
“We try to break molds with our work, and oftentimes, this means using technology to create new molds,” explains Obregon. “Our thinking and approach don’t start with the coolest piece of gear. We don’t make it a big part of our mantra. Rather, every project puts us with the latest technology based on what we’re trying to achieve.”
Oishii uses both Mac and PC systems in its studio. Its arsenal of technology includes the Arri Alexa, Canon 5D, Weisscam and Phantom cameras; Adobe’s After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator; Autodesk Motion Builder; Real Flow; Maxon’s Cinema 4D; Final Cut, Avid; Boujou; Magic Bullet; Video Copilot; and Phase Space for motion capture.
In addition, its love of finding unexpected and creative uses out of everyday items really shines around its office. Six Ikea tabletops have been converted into a huge whiteboard on the walls, while kitchen cabinets have been transformed into a media-shelving unit.
“One of the most-used pieces of technology — our whiteboard — happens to be our cheapest,” concludes Obregon. “We just enjoy experimenting and turning ideas on their heads. Inspiration comes in many forms.”