“Talentism”: Laying the groundwork for Pirates’ playground

19 December 2022

“Talentism”: Laying the groundwork for Pirates’ playground

As a Disruption®︎ Company, our reason for existence always has been producing disruptive creative that break conventions and make positive changes to the world as well as to solve clients’ business challenges, by moving people’s heart, bringing change to the market, and making visible changes in the world. With this in mind, at the beginning of this year, TBWA\HAKUHODO declared the mission of “Being the creative force for meaningful social change” to be reminded again about why we exist and what we work for and to re-direct where we should head from here. To realize the mission of bringing meaningful social changes, TBWA\HAKUHODO thought that it’s important to lay the ground for each and every Pirate (※ Pirates is how what we call ourselves at the TBWA Collective) to fully demonstrate their his/her creativity and boldly challenge new ideas.

From this belief, TBWA\HAKUHODO has adopted the concept of “Talentism,” one of the keywords discussed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in January 2021, and tailored it uniquely for TBWA\HAKUHODO and has been actively promoting it throughout the year. Our Talentism puts “pirates” first, and by providing them with opportunities and the environment to further develop their talents, the company fully supports the members to always learn and take on the challenge of new adventures.
In this episode, we spoke with CEO Akihiko Imai and COO Chris Iki about their thoughts on Talentism and “Talentism Actions” to realize the company’s mission.


Q. Can you describe how you understand “Talentism”?

CEO: As a “Creativity Company”, I believe that our greatest strength and value comes from our people themselves – so it is natural for us to put “people” first when designing the company’s management policy. Our mission to “be the creative force for meaningful social change” cannot be realized only by the effort of the management team but needs to be led by the entire company as a whole. I thought it is precisely at this time that we need to strengthen our efforts to promote “Talentism” to achieve this mission.

COO: I am a firm believer of the statement “Creativity belongs to all employees.” Talentism, as I see it, is the philosophy of developing and drawing out the innate talent that all employees have by giving them opportunities to learn and providing an environment which our pirates feel safe to challenge themselves in to create bold ideas.

Q. Why “Talentism” at this time?

CEO: During the pandemic, consumers’ behavior on information acquisition, purchasing, social awareness, and working styles have all undergone major changes. And if we stop at the middle of the road of the turbulent era, we would be hit from both sides – we must constantly disrupt ourselves and continue to grow. In order to do so, we wanted to make TBWA\HAKUHODO a place where all pirates can take on new challenges, re-learn, reskill, and try again. We believe it is important to show the company’s commitment to promote such an environment, and that is why we have clearly announced “Talentism” as the cornerstone of our management policy.

COO Chris Iki, talking about

COO Chris Iki, talking about “Talentism”

COO: Since the pandemic, we often hear the terms “post-COVID” or “new normal”. However, we have never had a concrete picture of what the “New Normal” actually is, and it’s a completely unknown area that we will have to explore and create together in the future. As a company, I believe that “The Great Reset” is essential for us to take on new challenges of the post pandemic era. In this sense, we redefined ourselves as the “Creativity company” and set the policy that focuses not only on the agency’s business but also on each and every one of our talents.

Q. Tell us about the “Talentims Actions” that TBWA\HAKUHODO carried out throughout this year.

CEO: Based on the belief that a positive attitude toward personal growth and relearning will result in us becoming the “Creativity Company” that creates meaningful social change, we launched the “Talentism Actions”. These consist of actions that aim to provide opportunity for members to re-skill and utilize their individual talents to the fullest, while the other are designed to establish and provide a new kind of infrastructure and internal system, which will proactively encourage and support all members of the team to take on any challenge without fear or hesitation as they grow themselves and the business.

【Providing new opportunities to understand/develop/utilize talent】

・Career Support Center: We launched the Career Support Center to provide not only standard counseling services, but to support personal growth discussions – assigning certified counselors who are available to all team members on request.

・Introduction of the side hustle system: We believe there are benefits to having side jobs, including exciting growth opportunity for individuals, and offer a way to achieve self-realization/self-expression. They can also utilize the skills or network that they have earned from the side hustle to the work they do at TBWA\HAKUHODO as well. From this perspective, we established the rules and employee manuals clearly defining what kind of side jobs employees may consider and normalizing the practice by establishing a standard reporting process for employees to follow when starting a side job.

・“Work-at-another-company” trial: The work-at-another-company system allows members to participate in projects at other companies without interrupting their employment path at TBWA\HAKUHODO. The intent is open opportunities and experience various projects while they learn new field skills they wish to acquire, and which they can later utilize in TH projects as well.

“Talentism”: Laying the groundwork for Pirates’ playground

・Metaverse communication: We are now exploring new ways of communication and work style diversity and members engagement through Metaverse. Recently, we held a management meeting in the Metaverse where non-manager members disguised as the avatar of company CEO freely shared their opinions and thoughts about the company. We plan to continue to actively implement measures utilizing the Metaverse.

【Establishing infrastructure & system for “talentism”】

・HR system update: We have updated the HR system to set and evaluate goals based on the performance status that employees are demonstrating, with “challenge” and “growth” at the core.

・Log system update: Managing working hours is vitally important for a creative agency but the system was old school and slow. To streamline such a complicated process to reduce even a fraction of the inputting time and stress, we introduced a new work-log system that’s combined with the work-calendar, automatically calculates the work hours. As a company we can also easily grasp the bigger picture of how time is being managed, to maximize the usefulness of work hour information.

・Introduction of AI translation tools: We introduced a highly accurate AI translation tool, to help our pirates work much more freely in bilingual format. We are planning to examine and introduce more new technologies that will further improve performance efficiency of the team.

Q. What changes do you expect the promotion of “Talentism” will bring about?

CEO Akihiko Imai, talking about

CEO Akihiko Imai, talking about “Talentism”

COO:I believe that by giving employees more opportunities for growth, we can provide opportunities for them to grow as a professional to become a member that not only brings benefits to the company but a better member of society, contributing to bringing meaningful social changes.


TBWA\HAKUHODO launched the “Talent Management” department under the HR team to actively and continuously lead the talentism initiatives. Shinpei Nikai, Head of Talent Management, commented, “TBWA\HAKUHODO’s goal is to enable each and every pirate to enjoy challenges and growth within the company through Talentism initiatives. As the “Creativity Company”, we believe that in order to continue to create meaningful changes in society, it is necessary for every member to participate and utilize his/her full potential to make changes, and this will eventually lead to the sustainable growth of our company as well. Through Talentism, we will continue to strive to provide our employees with opportunities to take on challenges that they have not been able to take on in the past, and to support their individual growth.”

Shinpei Nikai, Head of Talent Management

Shinpei Nikai, Head of Talent Management

TBWA\HAKUHODO will continue to focus on providing opportunities and systems that will maximize and cherish the talents that our pirates have. We will introduce the changes created by Talentism in STORIES. Stay tuned!

Communication team (koho@tbwahakuhodo.co.jp)