Akane Inada Millar loves electronic gadgets. Honestly, who doesn’t? While there might be a few who don’t embrace the constantly evolving change which electronics bring to everyday life, most of us are waiting with baited breath for the newest and most innovative of these products. Luckily for Millar, she is ahead of the curve. As a member of the interactive design agency Birdman (based in Japan), Akane is part of a creative team that is at the forefront of promotional campaigns presenting a variety of products to the public. The core of Birdman’s approach is the use of technology to interact with the public in ways never before seen. Virtual car races, running against your own life-size avatar in an LED stadium, and many other innovative campaigns have resulted in Birdman’s notoriety as one of the most successful and forward thinking companies in the world. Akane and her Birdman team members have received more than 200 international awards for their work including: the Grand Prix at Spikes Asia, Silver at Cannes Lions, Gold at Adfest, Grand Prix at Code Awards, and countless others. Birdman approaches each project as no other. While many are fixated only on metrics, Birdman appears to sometimes create presentations simply to prove that they are possible. One distinct example of this is the Nissan Intelligent Parking Chair production. This campaign literally appears to be inspired by the Jetsons cartoon and makes viewers feel as if we have reached the space-age future. It was recognized at the Cannes Lions 2016 “PROMO&ACTIVATION” with the Bronze Award as well as the Code Award 2016 “Jury’s Special Award.” Upon viewing the seemingly aware and self-mobile chairs in this presentation, one feels that the title of Visual Producer is a very accurate interpretation of Millar’s skills.
Millar views modern electronic gadgetry as another form of fashion; that’s a unique perspective to say the least. This perspective serves to further reinforce Akane’s positive contributions at Birdman. She embraces both the “techy” excitement and discerning aesthetic approach to the companies many presentations. For the “Nissan Intelligent Parking Chair” production, visuals were of the utmost importance to communicate the impact of this technology. Nissan wanted to exhibit the auto-park technology in a unique and outstanding way. The team at Birdman used the “Intelligent Parking Assist” function as a way of tidying workspace from its unused rolling chairs. With a simple clap of one’s hands, unused chairs would leave an untidy environment and go back to their “parking space.” This demonstrated the ability of using the technology in a very familiar scene, making it both approachable and practical. The system organized the parking movement of the chairs by using the automatic steering device included in each wheel; allowing them to roll by themselves and make a full rotation of 360°. Motion capture cameras monitored the spacial information from the room’s four angles, transmitting a “top view” of the room and wirelessly creating a system that moved the chairs to the previously decided “parking space.” Birdman joined the project from the planning stage and was in charge of the chair development and realization as well as the demonstration display. Upon viewing the presentation Takahiro Hosoda (Creative Director for Nissan Intelligent Parking Chair) commented, “Arthur C. Clarke once said, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ To me, Birdman is a team of sorcerers.
They take my out-of-this-world imaginations seriously and bring them to real life. The intelligent Parking Chairs could not have been built with such durability without the Birdman team. Because of them, we can challenge ideas with higher hurdles. I am excited to see what magic they will come up with next.”
Birdman’s “thinking outside the box” approach applies to hiring the professionals who make up their team as well as their promotions. While Millar is known for her successful career in fashion before joining Birdman, her talent and perspective have added many components that have strengthened this Japanese company. Roy Tsukiji of Birdman confirms, “As founder, CEO, and creative director of Birdman, it is essential for me to find professionals who are not only creative and forward thinking but those who also add something unique to our team. Birdman strives to always be at the forefront of promotion and brand awareness for our clients. To enlist team members who are any less than the most elite in the industry would weaken us and is therefore unthinkable. Akane Inada meets this criterion in every way. Akane came to us after an already successful career in the fashion industry. That might seem like an odd fit for a company such as Birdman which focuses on such an intensive use of technology; but this is exactly what makes Akane so valuable to us. She understands the changing avenues of promotion and brings her own unique perspective that has served to strengthen our company. As a leading creative force behind promotions such as the Nike Unlimited Stadium, Nissan Intelligent Chair, and Shiseido Red, Akane’s ideas and implementation of these ideas were essential to their creation and success. I can directly attribute the overwhelming success of these brand awareness campaigns to Ms. Inada’s talent and vision. Her achievements at Birdman speak for themselves. Birdman has become so successful that we are now opening an office in New York City and Akane’s mastery of the English language is just another example of how she continually adds to the strength of our company. The possibility of having Ms. Inada be a leading force in our New York location would be of great benefit to both Birdman and the clients in the US that we would serve.”
Akane’s connection to New York is just another example of the positive attributes which she brings to Birdman. Birdman’s entrée into the international market is almost unthinkable without Millar’s involvement. Akane was originally born in Osaka, and moved to Scarsdale, NY with her family when she was only three. She recalls, “Back when I was living in NY there were quite a few Japanese expats living in our neighbor. I went to the local public school and all the Japanese kids tend to gather up but I wanted to play with different group of kids. I spoke Japanese at home but when I was at school I spoke English and hung out with kids with different backgrounds.” Her exemplary talent and ease with both languages and cultures makes Millar the keystone for Birdman’s success as a member of the New York City promotional industry. Contemplating her position as a Visual Producer for Birdman’s NYC office Akane comments, “I think it is necessary to have the experience of actually moving your hands to create something. I admire Visual Producers who not only know about the design but also have knowledge in the technical part. I feel people have more respect for producers and directors who have been in their shoes. When I first came to Birdman it was because I wanted to widen my view of promotion. I had no idea that it would affect me so profoundly. I am so thankful that they want me to have to opportunity to use my expertise to help them with this new growth potential for Birdman. Every time I am stopped in another country by someone who knows Birdman and their innovative promotions, it’s a reminder that I made the right decision.”