Promotional campaigns and advertising is a constantly evolving world where most of the times the line that separates success and failure is too thin. There are too many factors taking part on it, sometimes it is impossible to analyze why campaigns that apparently look similar get way too different results. If we take into account what kind of impact those campaigns have in several countries (even if it’s not an international campaign), analyzing the repercussion of a campaign gets quite complicated.
That’s why it is interesting to analyze thoroughly the background of campaigns that have had a positive reception in foreign countries, mainly thanks to social media. In other words: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
It doesn’t have to be necessarily huge promotions involving big companies like McDonalds or Coca Cola, investing thousands of dollars in advertising.
Let’s talk about the Rolling Sushi, a large-scale piece of art taking part in an annual event called Osaka Canvas Project. Several local and governmental bodies organized this event with the goal of transforming Osaka, one of the biggest cities in the country, into a big urban artistic setting. Carried out in October, this project involved a great number of artists and the participation of some of the most important creative agencies in Japan. However, if there was a project that drew attention above others, it was the Giant Rolling Sushi Campaign. The advertising agency Class Inc. was elected to be part of the festival due to their innovative idea of turning the Dōtombori Canal, one of the main tourist destinations in Osaka, into a gigantic Conveyor belt Sushi (Kaitenzushi). The idea arose from the popular belief that Conveyor belt Sushi, also called sushi-go-round was invente in Osaka. This city is also well known for its outstanding gastronomic specialities.
To carry out this project, 5 huge pieces of sushi were built, floating down the canal, like a giant rotating conveyor belt. The event was accompanied by a dance performance and a light up at night. Simple but quite effective. The whole campaign lasted 3 days, attracting a large number of visitors. It is surprising that this event didn’t need a excessive promotion. A sober but practical social media campaigning strategy was enough to get good results. A solid promotion on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was launched, creating the repercussion and word of mouth needed to make it known abroad. Of course such an original idea gathered the national media as well. Asahi Shimbun, one of the newspapers with more circulation in Japan and Sankei Shimbun covered the event, focusing on the Giant Floating Sushi along the canals that undeniably drew most of the attention.
Due to the impact of this huge urban piece of art, the Giant Rolling Sushi was part of the Asian Art Exchange, organized by Unknown Asia. This event gathered artists from all around the continent, and included exhibitions of all kinds during a month. This time, the giant sushi had “Christmas” as its theme and it became a night exhibition. While its participation in another festival is indeed another proof of the popularity of the Rolling Sushi campaign, it also helps to understand the actual success of the idea internationally. Such event included the participation of renowned, prestigious artists from various countries like the Philippines or South Korea. However, apart from Japan, if there was a predominant country among those artists, it was Taiwan. Thanks to the effect of the festival, The Giant Rolling Sushi became very popular in Taiwan. So Taiwanese people are really active in the use of social media. The campaign made a name for itself, and with Taiwan’s fervent activity on the net (including Japanese media coverage) the Rolling Sushi campaign reached Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. Weibo has more than 600 million users, which made the event take on new proportions once it spread through the Chinese network. At the same time it became increasingly famous in other parts of Asia, eventually reaching Europe and America. There, different media channels specialized in news about Japan published articles and posted videos about the event.
But how come an open-space urban art event can generate such an impact outside Japan? The answer lies in the concept. Sushi is known worldwide and is probably the first thing most people think when it comes to Japanese cuisine. In order to promote the event, The Rolling Sushi campaign collaborated with ORANGE RANGE, a well-known Japanese band with the release of the single “SUSHI食べたい” (I want eat sushi). This collaboration became more evident especially on Instagram, with posts and images together, resulting in more followers and likes to the campaign. The key of all this issue is to take an extremely popular element and give it an unprecedented perspective. In this case, with an urban art exhibition, we can have a great impact. Sometimes even across borders, without expecting it (Asahi Shimbun even published an article in Chinese to cover the event). Proper marketing and dissemination is crucial, of course. A good presentation of the event including quality contents can bring you better results than spending large amounts of money on “traditional” advertising. If the project itself has a good deal of originality, the campaign is bound to succeed.
Nowadays most of the campaigns run by large brands and big names have an international business strategy to specifically adapt the promotion for each country it’s going to be launched. Usually this is the right thing to do in advertising. However there are many cases when the product itself is so representative of a country it shouldn’t be changed.
Certainly, in this kind of campaigns the most important thing is word of mouth combined with social media promotion. The visual effect in this case plays an important role as well, that’s why making a good use of platforms like Instagram. An original campaign with something as emblematic as sushi can easily spread through Facebook and Twitter in Japan. If it is something fresh and innovative, it will gain popularity internationally. Without having to spend thousands of dollars, events like the Rolling Sushi of Osaka can undoubtedly become famous across the globe using social media best practices.
The event on Social Media: