Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders and entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. In part two of this two-part series, John C Jay details transitioning from Wieden+Kennedy to Uniqlo with words of immeasurable advice.
After taking the lead on Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo, John was advised by Dan Wieden to “do the work that none of our offices could ever do.” With that in mind, he stumbled upon Uniqlo — what was then a small brand existing in only the suburbs. Uniqlo’s founder, Tadashi Yanai partnered with Wieden+Kennedy to open its first store in Harajuku and to create the first ground-breaking fleece campaign, which mainstreamed their casual apparel.
John and Yanai remained close confidants and years later after turning down a coveted role at Nike, John accepted the role as Global Creative of Fast Retailing Co. From overseeing legendary Nike ads and spearheading Wieden+Kennedy’s international growth to creating its multidisciplinary creative agency W+K Garage and putting Uniqlo on the map, John tells us he is nowhere near done.
“This bridge…it doesn’t end. It keeps going. This bridge just keeps going. There’s something on the other side that just keeps coming up. I’m just trying to get there.”
Traversing over numerous decades and adhering to relatable storytelling, John’s work could be credited to what he calls the “critical moments” of exposure. He reflects on his immigrant roots, cherishing the moments where he was exposed outside the often boxed narrative of minority culture. John hopes to contribute to these critical moments for other people, helping to expose people of color to the creative world.
Later on, John advises his listeners about the perils of fear. He acknowledges that despite the risks and outcomes of experimenting, creative individuals must always adhere to exploring different options and being open to failure.
As always, thank you for tuning into HYPEBEAST Radio and Business of HYPE. You can subscribe to our channel on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Overcast, Anchor or wherever else you get your podcasts. Please don’t forget to leave a comment or review.
Additionally, feel free to hit Jeff on Twitter, @jeffstaple, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he may answer your question on a future episode.
This episode features references to the following:
2:00 – John’s arrival to Tokyo
4:29 – Tom Sachs
8:03 – Uniqlo
8:19 – Tadashi Yanai
8:30 – Uniqlo Fleece Campaign
12:17 – Uniqlo’s core beliefs
14:20 – Nike
19:10 – Deadstock Coffee
21:20 – John Thompson
23:21 – John’s transition to Uniqlo
24:42 – W+K Garage
26:33 – Nike Presto shoe campaign
28:12 – Phil Knight
29:09 – Nike job offer
32:37 – Resigning Wieden+Kennedy
41:15 – Jim Moore
43:03 – Barney Wan
44:45 – David Bailey
44:56 – Lord Snowdon
48:16 – Advice