Throughout the decades, company songs have been a tradition for Japanese companies. Company songs are meant to show a sign of unity and have been featured in small businesses and giant corporations alike.
In the early 1990s, SEGA saw itself expand faster than ever before. The blue brand had just created the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog mascot through a company-wide invitation that asked employees come up with a mascot that could rival Nintendo’s Mario. Following the successful creation of Sonic, SEGA thought it would be a great idea to create their company song through the same source.
Former Head of Marketing for SEGA Mike Fischer recently spoke with Polygon about the company song, ‘Young Force’.
“Right after I joined Sega in 1990, the company’s business really started taking off — especially in the international (non-Japanese) markets with the launch of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive console…The company started to expand rapidly, and as most large companies in Japan had a company song, the decision was made that Sega should have one, too.”
“Sonic the Hedgehog was created through a company-wide invitation for all employees to submit ideas for a company mascot that could rival Mario…An employee named Naoto Ohshima came up with the idea for Sonic, and it was such a success that the company took a similar approach for the company song — crowdsourcing it from the employees.”
“I got to know him a little while after the song was recorded, when I volunteered to help out at an English-language study club at the company, and he was a member,” Fischer said. “I remember he told me that he received some shares of Sega stock as a prize for winning the song competition.
“I asked Takahashi once where the inspiration came from, and he just said he thought the company mottos just seemed like a natural fit. One of the funny things was that Takahashi wasn’t from any of the creative teams at all — he worked in the parts procurement department.”
“These mottos were part of the Monday morning ritual long before the song was ever created, and we would recite them together at the start of the meeting,” Fischer said. “The main slogan was ‘Creativity is Life’ but there were several other company values and slogans we’d recite. Some of them made it into the song, some that didn’t. There were phrases like ‘advance society with intellectual property’ and ‘work together to achieve our objectives.’ (They sound just as clunky in Japanese).”
“Once a year, Sega would host an all-employee company meeting at an offsite venue, and everyone would sing the song to recorded background music (sort of a group karaoke),” Fischer added. “It looks like the song was later released in some collections of Sega game music, but I’ve never seen any of them.”
Interestingly, ‘Young Force’ was covered in an episode of SEGA Hard Girls, which you can check out at the top! What do you think of SEGA’s catchy song? Discuss in the comments below!