Creative minds making
Possi, a unique toothbrush that parents can use to help their children finish off
their teeth-brushing routines, is all about fun.
With roots in the core concept of turning the chore of brushing into something
that children can enjoy—and make things less stressful for the whole family—
the new toothbrush plays music when it comes into contact with teeth.
We sat down with members of the creative team to learn more about how the product
developed out of a clear worldview, one that centered on casting the brush as a likeable, friendly companion.
DRAWING AND MANUAL INC.
DRAWING AND MANUAL INC.
DRAWING AND MANUAL INC.
Senior Art Director,
Senior Art Director,
changing users' lives
Possi came about through a joint-development program between Kyocera Corporation and Lion Corporation, which teamed up via the Sony Startup Acceleration Program. The development project leader at Kyocera, which was spearheading the effort, was aiming for an engaging design—and he specifically asked the Sony Creative Center to handle it.
HosodaWhen I design a product, I always think about how I can make the user's life better. That's how I approached Possi. I wanted it to be something that'd make the whole family happy, basically. Parenting is an incredible experience, for sure, but it can be tiring, too. When you look at what goes into everyday family life, there are little things that can be real sources of stress. Brushing, for example, tends to be a chore for children. Getting kids to brush tends to be a chore for a lot of parents, too. But it's also a little chunk of together time—and it's definitely a shame when that precious time together turns into a struggle. I eventually got around to thinking that we could turn brushing from a chore into a form of play. To make the process less frustrating, we could design Possi as a kind of cute, lifelike buddy. That's what got the ball rolling: soon enough, I was starting to design Possi like a creature of sorts, envisioning its brush as a tail.
JoganoI was in charge of communication design. When Hosoda told me that he wanted to shape a cute worldview, an angle that'd help children get around their aversion to brushing, I totally knew where he was coming from. As a parent of a young child myself, I know how hard the whole process can be. Although I had an idea of the goal we were going for, creating a worldview is easier said than done; I had to think about how to build it, how to present it to the rest of the team, and how to convey the core message to users. The first thing I did was write a storybook with Possi as the main character. Seeing as how the musical element plays a big role in defining the product, I came up with a story about Possi using its singing voice to turn dastardly bacteria characters—"Bamushi"—into friends and, in the end, dance together. I ran with the idea and finished the whole book before the day was over.
Storybook with Possi as the main character
HosodaThe second I saw the book and started flipping through the pages, I knew the story was exactly what we needed. We brought the book along when we made our design proposal to Kyocera and Lion, using the narrative and the illustrations to capture our vision. After we finished, the response was great—the people from Kyocera and Lion told us they'd been hoping for an entertainment element, an area that Sony really excels in. They were on board with the basic vision, and we already had the foundation for our communication approach—the book. Jogano and I started working on translating the book into a more concrete plan for reaching families with small children.
JoganoTo do that, we knew we had to make Possi something that'd appeal to the whole family—adults and children alike. If we went with a conventional approach, creating video and website content with a focus on functional performance, we wouldn't be able to connect with everybody. We’d lose the element of fun—and a simple product showcase wouldn't get people talking about the product. As we thought about the best way to make an impact across the age spectrum, we got around to the idea of writing a theme song and shooting a music video. Who doesn't like a catchy tune and a cool video, right? We figured that approach would give us a better chance of getting children's and parents' attention. That initial interface was key. As long as we had a good hook, people would naturally develop an interest in the product, make their way to the website, and learn more.
The song was obviously going to be crucial, and we were lucky enough to find a great collaborator. Sony Music set us up with DJ Misosiru& MC Gohan, who’s really popular with children (and me, incidentally). After we showed her the Possi book and officially requested a song, we didn't have to wait long for the results to come in. In just a few days, DJ Misosiru& MC Gohan came up with "Possi and Eeahh"—a song that fit the whole Possi worldview to a tee, from the lyrics and the melody to the groove. That put us in position for the next step of the process: the theme song needed a music video.
Good vibes make for
a great worldview
The Sony designers knew they needed an MV to really convey the Possi concept. Why did they see that visual element as such a vital piece of the puzzle? And what kind of content were they after?
JoganoThese days, video content is more accessible than ever—if you have a smartphone, for example, you can watch and share videos pretty much whenever and wherever you want to. The MV for "Possi and Eeahh" was obviously going to be a big piece of the communication plan. We wanted it to be fun to watch, fun to dance to, and fun for the whole family. That's the kind of content that gets people talking, another focus of our broader approach. For us, then, DRAWING AND MANUAL (D&M) was an ideal partner—unique, compelling children's programming is what they do best. We asked Shimizu-san, a video director at D&M, to head up the MV process.
ShimizuJogano-san just gave me a very basic rundown: he showed me the Possi storybook and told me the team wanted a video that echoed the same basic worldview. Aside from that, we could do whatever we wanted—complete artistic freedom. I have a young daughter, who was kind of my imagined target audience; I focused on making something that she'd want to watch. As I started working up a concept around the story from the Possi book, though, I ran into some struggles. I'd never had so much freedom, so I kept second-guessing myself about whether I could really go basically any direction I wanted. While I knew that there was going to be an official website for the product, I kept reminding myself that the video was going to be a core promotional interface. If I didn't present the product clearly in the video, I assumed, the message wouldn't get across right. My first storyboard started out with a basic setup of someone brushing with Possi, just for exposition purposes.
JoganoWhen I first saw that scene, I told Shimizu-san that exposition was the least of our concerns—we just wanted him to let his creative juices flow. Children have richer imaginations than we adults do. Their sensitivities to different input, the ways they experience things, are so much different from how older generations perceive stuff. That's why it's such a challenge to really resonate with children. You have to forget about logic and reason and all of that. I told Shimizu-san he could basically let the left side of his brain take over; we didn't want rational thought to get in the way of his creativity.
ShimizuFor me, that was a relief. I took what Jogano-san said to heart and let my imagination run wild: I came up with ideas like having DJ Misosiru& MC Gohan put on lip-shaped headwear and hold Possi plushies. I was originally going to follow the storybook plot and have Possi "sing" the Bamushi characters into good guys—a scene that I loved because it was about getting along with the bad guys, not beating them—but I doubted that'd work in a video format. I decided to go to Jogano-san and float the idea of using professional dancers in full-body tights to play the Bamushi and really "bust a move," so to speak, while DJ Misosiru& MC Gohan dropped loose, laid-back rhymes in the background. Jōgano-san gave me the green light right away. That's kind of how all the ideas fell into place. I couldn't believe how much freedom I had, how carried away I could get. It was really liberating.
Sketches of the set and other visual elements
Backstage shot of the music video
Suzuki (D&M)On the MV project, I was mostly responsible for designing the set and other visual elements. Jogano-san didn't give me any specifics, really, besides just saying that the team wanted an island setting that a child might just dream up one day, nothing grounded in any realistic basis. I took things from a logical angle at first, trying to incorporate shapes and things that I thought children might like, but I gradually realized that I was just going off stereotypes—I wasn't being open enough. I decided to switch gears, forget about thinking everything through, and just focus on what I thought would be cool. In the end, I had a hybrid fusion of a tropical island and a living room. It was a bit off the wall, I must say. When Jogano-san saw it, though, he said he loved it. For me, that was a pretty happy moment.
Moriguchi I was the producer for the MV, so I oversaw the overall workflow. Right away, I could tell that Jogano-san was doing whatever he could to give Shimizu and Suzuki the environment they needed to really get the most out of their visual creativity. Part of that commitment, I think, came from his insight: he knew that the only way to develop a fun worldview for Possi was to create a fun atmosphere behind the scenes. Over the course of the production process, Shimizu and Suzuki were always laughing and smiling—they were obviously having a good time. As a producer, I'm normally supposed to keep everyone on task and minimize detours. On the Possi project, though, I knew that being too serious was the last thing we needed. Goofiness was vital.
ShimizuI think that whole vibe had a big impact on the shoot. DJ Misosiru& MC Gohan was into it. The children were living it up. The Bamushi dancers were going all out. Every scene popped—and we got the first one in a single take; there was just so much positive energy that it all just came together like magic. There were smiles on everyone's faces, from the performers to the whole crew, myself included. I could even hear the people from Kyocera laughing during the shoot, which, of course, was a sign that we were on the right track. When you watch the video, I think you can see how much fun everyone on the set was having.
Official website echoing the colorful tones of the MV palette
Suzuki (Sony)I was on hand, too, to help with the design effort on the Sony side of things. Of all the projects I'd been a part of, I'd never had that much fun on set. I looked around, and I had a realization: I could build the whole product website around this vibe. That gave me the direction I was looking for. Instead of using a standalone shot of the product for the main visual on the website, I used a shot of Possi and a child looking at each other. The set design gave me the visual cues for the overall page design, too, which ended up echoing the colorful tones of the MV palette. Everything came together into a single vision, with the MV, song, and website all uniting into a cohesive whole.
What do creative teams do?
Breathe life into new value
When the "Possi and Eeahh" MV came out, it took off on social media. Not only did the content find a receptive, growing audience in the parent demographic, but the crowdfunding effort made its goal, too. We asked the team about their experiences working on an MV—such a crucial element of the project's success.
JoganoCreating a theme song and making a music video were completely new areas for me, but I decided to give it a go because I wanted to help Kyocera and Lion see their vision—a new business initiative to make life easier for families with young children—through. The project met its crowdfunding goals, which wouldn't have been possible without the enthusiastic response our message received from the two companies. I think Possi has a great start. If everything goes well, Possi might carve out a niche. Who knows? We might even be seeing Possi on T-shirts. I'm looking forward to being a part of that growth.
HosodaWhenever I design something new, whether it's Possi or anything else, I always focus on creating a vision—a clear worldview. The key to developing a good worldview is constantly looking at things from the user perspective. For the Possi product, I wanted to see things through that real, concrete lens. That's why I made shapes out of paper clay, put them in my washroom, set them up in the living room, and tried to root my mindset in how brushing plays into parents' and children's day-to-day lives. As I played with the forms, putting a tail on one side and "walking" the objects around, the worldview came into focus: we could make Possi a friendly, likeable buddy for children to love. That vision took on new layers when the creative team started pooling its resources together, opening doors to new modes of expression that I never would've thought of on my own. It was really fun working on the Possi project, and I really think we breathed life into new value.
We're part of a Creative Center team that handles collaborations with companies outside the Sony framework. Working with people and businesses from sectors of all kinds, we’re always looking for opportunities to spark new value and make the world a happier place.
Possi, the brand-new toothbrush for parents to help their children get their teeth squeaky-clean,
makes brushing something children can enjoy—not fuss about.
That's a big part of what Sony Design does: making things more fun.
Looking ahead, the team is excited about tapping its creative capabilities to
fill people's everyday lives with an extra element of enjoyment.