Spikes Asia

Mars89 - Tokyo in Retrograde


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Budweiser launched a global campaign profiling groundbreaking creators around the world who have followed their artistic passion with single-minded focus, despite challenges and tension they faced from society as a result. We proactively pitched a story around Tokyo-based musician and activist Mars89, from concept through to execution, complete with social assets and design for a full digital roll-out.


Tokyo in Retrograde is a short film produced by creative studio PUSH for Budweiser about Masayoshi Anotani, aka Mars89 — a musician whose uncompromising electronic compositions have cemented him as one of the most unique and exciting prospects within Tokyo’s underground club circuit, and whose contribution to the city’s culture extends far beyond the dancefloor.

Soundtracked by original songs showcasing Mars89’s signature style — the film touches on his music production as well as his presence within Tokyo’s activist community, where he spearheads a series of anti-establishment ‘Protest Raves’ that have seen sound trucks drive through some of the city’s most iconic vistas while blasting out hard techno, galvanising Tokyo’s youth into new, emergent strands of political engagement.


Tokyo is often seen as a culturally, politically homogenous city, with little opportunity for anti-establishment thinking. Rather than play into the usual stereotypes, we wanted to show a global audience that there are young creators rebelling positively against the status quo, standing up for individual rights and personal freedoms, and - by giving them a spotlight globally - encourage Japanese youth to follow their own dreams with the support of viewers from all around the world who can relate to the universality of their story.


As soon as we began the project, we worked hand-in-hand with our film's protagonist, Mars89, to craft a narrative for the film that was authentic to his story, given that social activism is still a taboo in general Japanese society. We conducted numerous pre-interviews with both him and his peer group to understand his role both within Tokyo's music scene and the city's small but engaged community of youth activists, and crafted a story that stayed true to every aspect of his individual vision and worldview. We also worked with Mars89 to craft an exclusive soundtrack to the film, drawing on his catalogue of both released and unreleased tracks, knowing that it was critical that we represented the power of his music.

We shot on-location in Shibuya, following the exact path of the 'protest raves' that he had organised with sound trucks blaring techno as they moved through the city.


The video was one of Budweiser's best performing pieces of content of the year - racking up almost as many views as Lionel Messi's video for the brand released just a few weeks prior - not bad for a countercultural expose on underground music and activism! The video accrued tens of thousands of organic views across YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, with one commenter calling it the "best sponsored content I've ever seen".

More importantly, it demonstrated to Tokyo's youth that there are viewers all around the world sympathising and supporting their actions, even when they may not feel that support locally, legitimising and catalysing their efforts for the future.

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