R/GA has brought in former IBM and Dentsu innovation leader Kei Shimada to be its Tokyo managing director. In doing so he takes up the vacancy left by Yosuke Suzuki who left the agency last December to take up a similar role at Wieden+Kennedy.
Shimada, who began at R/GA on April 1, brings considerable leadership experience in fostering innovation. He comes to R/GA most recently from IBM, where he was the founding member and leader of IBM Japan’s Digital Makers Lab, a co-creation lab to help clients’ digital transformation. During this time, Shimada was shortlisted for his work in producing an AI classic concert at Ars Electronica in 2019, and has also recently won the CES 2021 Innovation Award for a smart assistant called the ‘Integrated Spatial Assistant Console’.
Prior to IBM, Shimada was global director of innovation and business development at Dentsu from 2012 to 2017 and also served as chief lab officer of dXLab, Dentsu Media’s innovation lab working with eight Southeast Asian markets including Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. Shimada has also founded and led one of Japan’s first multinational mobile strategy firms, Infinita, and has been an angel investor and advisor to many startups.
Tokyo, one of R/GA’s younger offices, has been a rising star in recent years, growing quickly with the recent additions of international and Japanese clients like Uber, Suntory and Nike. It’s also made a name for itself with inventive work, such as an installation for beauty brand Shiseido which created somewhat of a sensation in the market a couple of years ago by allowing customers to confront younger and older versions of themselves.
“I’m excited to be given this opportunity to join R/GA and lead the Tokyo office,” Shimada said in a release. “To have such an eclectic mix of people working together serving local Japanese and global clients is something very unique to Japan, and gives us a strong competitive advantage. I’m looking forward to further shaping and growing the Tokyo office.”
Shimada is now R/GA Tokyo’s third leader since it launched in 2017 under Masami ‘Sammy’ Hazui, who left a year later in June 2018, prior to Yosuke Suzuki’s leadership.