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15 Minute Read

Hall of Fame: 15 Years of ICHI

Samantha Lester
Studio Head

A foreword from our Studio Head

Oppenheimer winning best picture at the Oscars, the Paris Olympic Games, Dua Lipa headlining Glastonbury, there truly is so much to celebrate in 2024 and amongst these highlights ICHI has turned 15!

This marks a significant milestone for the company; it’s a testament to our craft, adaptability and resilience to still be growing and producing standout creative. It is also a moment to say a huge thanks to all our clients both past, present and future who trust and work with us to deliver such amazing work.

As we celebrate this landmark, we want to both reflect on ICHI’s beginnings and recognise the diverse array of projects that have shaped our journey. So who better to collaborate with but our Founder Liz Corless, and a selection of ICHI’s past superstars as they recall the standout marketing endeavours that have stuck with them and defined our legacy.

Liz Corless
Global Head of Marketing at Keywords Studios, Founder of ICHI

Where it all began...

Back in 2009 gaming was all about the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Wii. Three amazing consoles, each selling in numbers like never before and introducing new players to the likes of Halo, Uncharted and Mario. This surge in popularity created a booming demand for captivating and immersive advertising that resonated with burgeoning audiences. It was the perfect moment to launch ICHI.

The name? ICHI means "one" in Japanese—a subtle nod to the birthplace of video games, embodying our vision of unity: one team, one roof, stronger together. Whether we were staging full-on live-action ads in the deserts of America or crafting immersive game trailers that plunged gamers right into the action, we had all bases covered.

The early days were all about rolling up our sleeves, wowing clients with our capabilities, and moving from a cramped room to our very own studio space in the heart of London. We did more than just create ads; we built strategies, expanded our horizons, and grew into a formidable force in the industry.

At the heart of ICHI was always "one team"—a brilliant, buzzing hive-mind of gaming aficionados adept at capturing attention, engaging audiences, and driving sales. Our unique blend of passion, expertise, and commercial savvy eventually caught the eye of Keywords Studios, leading to an acquisition that propelled us to new heights.

Now, 15 years on, as I watch from the side-lines and lead marketing efforts at Keywords, I'm as proud as ever. The ICHI spirit, that knack for tapping into the gamer's heart, burns as brightly as ever. Here's to continued passion and innovation in the world of gaming advertising. 

Cheers to ICHI, you will always be my number one!

Rhiannon Price
Former Partner and VP of Account Direction & Strategy at ICHI

A beautiful creative

The project that holds a very special place in my heart is Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved.

After several rounds of hardcore pitching we scored the campaign thanks largely to the beautiful creative we proposed - a series of trailers that raised hype, demonstrated, and sparked imagination with a product that was hard to put into words, since it was a hands free XBOX Kinect game where you conducted the music.

In the final trailer of the series we shot overnight in Miami with the legendary Rob Feng (director of the Game of Thrones title sequence), to an exclusive remix of Galang by MIA.

This project also introduced me to my future husband, Chris Lewis who was the Creative Director on the project. We now live in LA with our 2 year old daughter and 2 dogs. 

Lonnie Silberling
Former Executive Creative Director and Partner at ICHI

Tension and jump scares

I’ll never forget the popup scare booths we created to promote the Paramount film, LIFE.

We were asking moviegoers to step inside our dark booth and put their hands inside big rubber gloves, immersed in a 360 video, which built up tension until a machine grabbed their hand for a hilarious scare moment. The hidden grabber looked like a high tech metal guillotine and had to be perfectly calibrated to freak people out, BUT not to smash their hand bones.

No moviegoers were hurt, I’m happy to say.

Samuel St. Leger
Former Creative Artworker at ICHI

Getting crafty

I started at ICHI when it was less than a year old - their fourth member of staff (and second called Sam!) and we all worked out of a cupboard. I remember lots of in-jokes, donuts and one insane Christmas period when we all sat there doing intricate paper cuts as a company gift for our clients. Things grew very quickly from then on…

I was always delighted to be asked to draw things for a project; but to be asked to MAKE something?! That was a true delight and for a week or two I managed to turn my desk and the neighbouring ones into the craft table! We were making a suite of trailers for SEGA’s re-release of Crazy Taxi on mobile, and I got to go all out. I wrote a jingle and our MD Liz sang the vocals! I got to storyboard the most outlandish things ever - it’s a fun IP! But then, to crown it all, I got to build a whole Crazy Taxi run from cardboard so that we could film it as an homage to the game. I still find myself chuckling at the madness of being paid to do something so fun. On shoot day we cleared out the whole studio when everyone had left and kept shooting until 3am. The final trailer looked better than I could have hoped and I often pop back to YouTube to check it out. 

I worked on loads of huge and not-so-huge projects for ICHI throughout my years there, but the sheer insanity of sitting at my desk with a scalpel and a bucket of paint making a giant cardboard city brings me great delight to this day.

Helen Jackson
Former Account Director at ICHI

An agency of firsts

ICHI will always have a special place in my heart as the agency of a lot of “firsts” for me. One of those was my first TV advert for Sonic the Hedgehog, complete with many hours of conversations about the most important subject matter: if we can get a trained goldfish to jump out of a bowl; is it okay to use a leaf blower as a wind machine; what colour blue is the hedgehog meant to be anyway?!

A great time and still a fun commercial.

(P.s the answers are no, yes and he had his own pantone).

Tim Menko
Former Junior Copywriter / Creative Team at ICHI

An LA project

I could write numerous stories about my time at ICHI: it was that legendary. One stands out above all the other tales: Disney Fantasia Music Evolved.

This game was rather difficult to explain, so I devised an activation to explain the game mechanics, which was quite ambitious. However, Disney fell in love with it. When I heard about the production budget, location, and number of shoot days, I was blown away. This was only my second year in advertising, but this junior bagged his ticket to LA thanks to Chris Lewis' efforts. After arriving at our insane mansion, we got to work, spending 5 days inside a closed Disney Studio. I went crazy for the American catering, where I ate so many sweets and pumped lukewarm nacho cheese that my stomach was upset for days. All totally worth it.

To top it off, we went to Universal Studios, where my stomach was further tested on roller coasters. This shoot will forever be planted in my brain as the best one ever.

Frank Tamburin
Former Creative Director at ICHI

Taking off like a rocket

An ICHI project that stands out for me was the CSR2 ‘Legends’ live action trailer. Shot on location in L.A., with an Oscar-winning car-to-car team, the premise was to show three modern-day classic cars in their 70s, 80s and 2000s heydays: a Pontiac G.T., a Lamborghini Countach and a Saleen, respectively.

I looked at movie references for each era, Bullitt and The French Connection for the 70s, Spielberg and Back to the Future for the 80s, and (of course) Fast and Furious for the 2000s. Albeit as soon as we saw what the Russian Arm could do, period authenticity went out the window for a cooler opening shot. I distinctly remember being in the back of the camera car before the first take, realising that about 50 people were waiting for me to say something – then as soon as I did, that car took off like a rocket! A fitting metaphor for the director’s experience.

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