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Case Study: The Soy Sauce Posters

The brief

Sagawa is a soy sauce manufacturer, renowned for its ancient production process. Should they wish to make the journey to the historic Japanese city of Yanai, visitors can witness soy sauce manufacturing taking place in vast vats in Sagawa’s factory. But Sagawa wanted to explain the heritage and delicacy of their product to a wider audience.

So, Sagawa approached Ogilvy Japan with a brief to raise awareness of the quality of their product. They wanted to show specifically how Sagawa soy sauce brings out the taste of a range of foods – when used in the right quantity (not too much, not too little).

Soy sauce is a staple foodstuff in Japan, and the legacy of great creative work for soy sauce brands is long and rich. It would prove a challenge for the Ogilvy team to find a new way to deliver on soy sauce.


The insight

Creative Director Sei Sugiyama and his team uncovered how vital the role of soy sauce was. It is not just accompanying or embellishing the taste of food, but in fact brings out the unique tastes of particular foods. They chose to express this by making unique pieces of art, Sugiyama explains, “By wanting to express the art of food, and the uniqueness of each food, the idea came about quite organically. Soy sauce as ink, brought the idea alive for us.”

And so, the art form of Gyotaku — fish printing —was chosen, with traditional ink replaced by soy sauce.

Originally used by fishermen to record their catches, the art of Gyotaku dates back to the mid-1800s. It’s a delicate craft that applies brass-rubbing techniques, but uses the scales of fish, Sumi ink and rice paper. A cotton ball covered in ink is rubbed over the paper and on top of a fish to produce a beautiful, life-sized impression of the fish.

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