Small is GREAT XVI: Wild Tame

Written by BCCJ
June 9, 2022


Written by BCCJ
June 9, 2022

It’s 2009, and Joseph Tame is strapping the recently launched iPhone to his forehead to run his first-ever quarter marathon. While the iPhone was a gamechanger with unprecedented tech, it couldn’t have predicted what lay ahead for Tame over the next decade.  

But more on that later. Let’s go back to the running.

His motivation for doing this first 10K race was simple: as someone who had never run further than the bus stop, he would probably give up halfway unless he made himself accountable to a live audience. Utilizing this new ability to live stream video from a mobile device, he was able to tell the story of his first-ever 10km run in real-time while receiving encouragement from viewers across the globe. 

This first experiment in leveraging technology to tell a story from a completely new angle grew beyond expectations. The next few years saw up to 40,000 live viewers tuning in for his annual broadcast of the Tokyo Marathon, global news coverage, and a side gig as a running Christmas Tree

At the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s signature Small is GREAT event on May 18, Tame — a fresh member of the BCCJ community — shared his experiences and the up and downs inherent in not only running marathons but in also running his creative agency Wild Tame, a business he founded with his wife Satoko in 2011 following repeated requests to support large corporations in sharing their stories with a global audience.

The company has grown to a core team of 18 creatives with an annual revenue exceeding £1mn. The multi-national team works on various projects across multiple industries. Tech giants, several of Japan’s top pharmaceutical companies, global human resource, and automobile leaders come to Wild Tame for branding, copywriting, graphic design, photography, animation, video production, or live streaming in Japanese and English. 


Early days

Tame graduated from The University of Sheffield with a BA in Japanese Studies before moving with fellow graduate Satoko to Tokyo, where he started out teaching English over the telephone. Keen to pursue his passion for technology and content creation, he and a colleague began a video podcast at weekends. They used the show to experiment with video production while meeting and interviewing inspiring entrepreneurs and artists. This approach — combined with the attention garnered through the marathon — provided the foundations for what would become Wild Tame.


Lessons learned

Running marathons provided Tame with many of the fundamental skills necessary to run a business. Tame said of the parallels between the two disciplines, “there are no shortcuts; both involve putting one foot in front of the other and simply not giving up.” 

He explained that having a goal to work towards is important, but you shouldn’t pin all the reward on that. “You have to enjoy the journey. Whether it’s a stand-alone video or an entire digital campaign, it can be a long road until you see the results of your work released to the world. There will always be challenges and setbacks, whether it’s a bout of severe cramp or a sudden change in project scope, but you have to work with it and find a way through.”

Teamwork is also critical to both, but the form it takes is very different. In a marathon, the supporters are roadside while you are the one pumping the legs. When it comes to running a business, your team is front and center, driving you forward.

“We always see ourselves as being on the same team as our clients right from the start line — working together to help discover and distill their story. On the flipside, we have been fortunate to build an amazing creative team that constantly delights and surprises us with their ideas and talent. They have transformed our business, and together we have built up an excellent reputation based on trust and mutual respect. I honestly feel humbled to work with such great clients and colleagues.”


The future

For many runners — including Tame — the pace can drop as you approach the grueling last few KMs of a marathon, but for the Wild Tame business, things are just warming up. 

Tame sees the business as continuing to nurture the relationships built so far and stresses the importance of staying true to the company’s roots. But in a rapidly changing environment, emphasis must be placed on extending the common themes of many corporate projects — ESG and Sustainability. Building upon these themes and crafting deeper human connections through sharing genuine stories that affect behavioural change will ultimately lead to a more sustainable world.

And, when it comes to running, Tame always sees his next marathon will be his best yet — he’ll see you at the start line.