Last week I had an opportunity to spend a couple of days in Gunma prefecture north of aitama north of Tokyo. Any trip to Gunma from Tokyo passes through the city of Takasaki, but this time around I only had a few minutes while waiting to change trains. Gunma is the prefecture with the highest car to human ratio and if you take a look at the last of these photos it becomes a bit obvious that this is a good place to drive. The station itself had a huge daruma doll in the central passage. The biggest one I have ever seen. Takasaki is also the home of two of Japan’s most famous steam trains, and many people come here just to see them and get the limited edition charcoal black daruma. I didn’t get one unfortunately. The Gunma tourist board is currently running a campaign to get tourists from the Kanto area to visit. Normally Gunma doesn’t rank highly for tourism but now that many people are avoiding the north east they might have good chance to attract more tourism. I was offered an unusually helpful guide pamphlet in English when I arrived. Hopefully it will be useful for foreigners travelling up north!
I don’t know about their cameras, but Panasonic sure knows how to create a splash with their product promotion props! How about this 10m tall inflatable doll made in the likeness of Haruka Ayase? As I excited Shinjuku Station’s East Exit last one Friday night they were just unpacking this event, but I was lucky enough to be passing through the next day and managed to get some photos of the giantess! I don’t blame you if you haven’t heard of Haruka Ayase before (I certainly hadn’t) but she is well known on TV, Radio and movies here, most notably on the recent hit TV drama Rookies and the movie “My Girlfriend is A Cyborg”. I love that title, haven’t seen the movie yet though. Her official web site is very cute but slow loading.
There was a booth set up so that you could try out their cameras right under her nose, and in case you got bored of the giant actress there was also a few model airplanes circling around for you to learn exactly how smart the little camera’s auto-focus is. It’s childish, but I love these kind of over the top marketing stunts!
For those not up to date on their Japanese electronics company marketing positions of late, Panasonic is a giant in the field. In the last two years they have ramped up all the marketing and PR efforts to a degree that leaves other similar companies eating dust and trying to play catch up. I don’t know if the strategy is paying off but let me tell you that their brand awareness ratings are sky high. It’s hard to find any media where they don’t rank number one in visibility. For us in marketing this is both good news and bad news. Good news is that any project we have, if Panasonic is doing something similar we can say to our bosses “well Panasonic is doing it so we should be doing it too”. Right now, Panasonic is the gold standard when it comes to Japanese marketing and PR. Perhaps this means we will see more giant dolls of famous people. I predict a giant Godzilla doll somewhere in Ginza before the end of next year. Remember where you read it first!
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