Cool Japan Fund Wants You to Eat, Wear and Watch All Things Japanese

Posted by Adeline Chong on November 29, 2013 05:21 PM

Ask a few people on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, London, Sydney or Singapore to name Japan's most famous export and you are likely to get the answer "Toyota" or "Sony." What you are unlikely to hear are washoku (Japanese cuisine) or the brand Undercover (a coveted Japanese streetwear clothing label).

The Japanese government is hoping to change all that with the launch of the Cool Japan Fund this week. The Fund is aimed at promoting Japanese products such as food and beverage, clothing labels, crafts, and content such as anime and manga, that may have achieved popularity overseas but have not seen that popularity translate to profit, often due to the lack of a good business model, or lack of funding and foreign headquarters.

Any concerns about "Cool Japan" being just a marketing slogan ("Cool Britannia" comes to mind), can be put aside. Close to $1 billion has been committed to the fund—which aims to also help under-the-radar companies with great potential that would not have been able to flourish without the cash injection—to expand abroad. The funds will come mainly from public coffers, with a portion from private companies such as ANA Airlines and advertising giant Dentsu Inc., which are already on board.Continue reading...

social media

Shiseido Brings Japanese Culture to Global Consumers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 25, 2013 12:41 PM

Japanese brand Shiseido, the oldest cosmetics and skincare company in the world, has launched a Facebook campaign that digitizes the centuries-old Japanese tradition of wishing wall prayers.

Shiseido’s #ShareTheEma app brings the ancient tradition of donating horses to temples in exchange for wishes into the modern era. Fans can pick one of eight "emas" that focus on positive virtues such as compassion, kindness or strength, to share on a friend or loved one’s Facebook wall. Fans that engage with the emas will be entered to win Shiseido products—increasing their entries with every ema shared. 

The initiative is just the latest from the global brand that introduces a bit of local culture to customers.Continue reading...


Infiniti Finally Turns To China, Japan in Quest for Bigger Piece of Premium Market

Posted by Dale Buss on November 19, 2013 03:57 PM

When Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn recruited Johan de Nysschen to head the Infiniti brand last year, he wanted his new recruit to accomplish much the same for Nissan's luxury brand as de Nysschen had done in turning around the fortunes of Audi in the US market. Only Ghosn wanted it done on a global basis.

Some of the results of de Nysschen's disruptive new strategy have become evident now, as Infiniti newly targets both China and its home country of Japan as it attempts to achieve Ghosn's target of 10 percent of the world premium market by 2020.

In China, de Nysschen told Bloomberg, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and his old employer, Audi, "have become so successful that they've become almost a little bit ubiquitous. They're everywhere. And this is where we see a big opportunity with this new emerging premium consumer, to offer them an alternative, reinvent the notion of exclusivity."Continue reading...

brand challenges

Investors Squirm as Apple Faces Today's Realities, Tomorrow's Questions

Posted by Dale Buss on October 29, 2013 11:07 AM

Even Apple is becoming vulnerable to the things that afflict most other companies. Its profits and margins slid despite selling 33.8 million iPhones in its September quarter, and the tech icon signaled a more challenging than usual holiday selling season ahead as well as slower going in China.

Apple stock slid after CEO Tim Cook on Monday outlined what Reuters called "unremarkable quarterly numbers" that prompted some disappointed investors to cash in on the stock. Apple has slid overall by more than 10 percent in the last year as concerns have grown about everything from its current slate of new products—such as the two new iPhones and iPads—to what it might or might not have up its sleeve for the future.

The company's main products, the iPhone and iPad, have been under increasing competitive pressure from rivals including Samsung and Amazon that sell cheaper devices that run on versions of Google's widespread Android operating system, USA Today noted. Even Nokia is reporting record Lumia sales, while BlackBerry this week saw a renewed sense of hope after its free BBM messaging app netted over 20 million downloads in its first week. All of that "has Wall Street scouring Apple's quarterly results for any sign the company is dropping prices at the expense of profit margins."Continue reading...


Lexus Turns Driving Into an Artform in Lexus IS 300h Campaign

Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2013 03:04 PM

If you drive "ugly," you may be ugly. That seems to be a primary message inherent in a new art-inspired promotion in Europe and Japan for the Lexus IS 300h hybrid, called Art is Motion.

Lexus has equipped one of the cars with software that produces a "generative self-portrait" of the driver behind the wheel based on the work of artist Sergio Albiac that is converted into paint-brush strokes. A system onboard the car "paints" a digital picture of the car's owner that takes shape in real time on its computer screen as the car proceeds, and on the Art is Motion website, based on his or her driving style and efficient use of energy.

Not surprisingly, the more the driver relies on battery power instead of gasoline as the car goes, the more flattering is the "generative self-portrait" that emerges. Or, as put it, "Those who employ the hybrid system's 141-hp electric motor more will end up with a more accurate painting in cooler colors. On the other hand lead-foots who make greater use of its 178-hp petrol four-cylinder will draw a more abstract depiction in "virulent" hues."Continue reading...

brand mascots

Fukuppy: Japan's Latest Attempt at Mascot Greatness Has the World Snickering

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 15, 2013 11:52 AM

When the reaches of humanity's ability to create art looks for a metaphoric warning to address the disastrous arrogance of science, it creates Godzilla, a lasting icon of the world's nuclear past. When the reaches of humanity's ability to create public relations campaigns looks for a mascot to address the disastrous arrogance of science, it creates Fukuppy, a lasting icon of the world's nuclear present.

Welcome to Earth, Fukuppy; you will go down as one of the top three worst mascots of all time.

To get the giggles and eye rolls out of the way up front, "Fukuppy" is the new mascot for Fukushima Industries, a manufacturer of refrigerators. The damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor, which just saw radiation levels hit a two-year high, is located in Fukushima prefecture.

In the wake of the (ongoing) Kumamon craze, brandchannel recently explored "Japan's robust history of anthropomorphized mascots" and how it fits into the island nation's "kawaii culture" ("kawaii" means "cute" or "adorable"). This cultural, maybe compulsive need to give every single thing its own adorable anthropomorphized mascot probably goes a long way in explaining the thinking behind Fukushima Industries' cute new spokes-egg.Continue reading...

sip on this

Beverage Brands' Creative Offerings Will Leave You With More Than That Refreshing 'Ahh'

Posted by Dale Buss on September 10, 2013 06:29 PM

Maybe it's the result of the unrelenting slide in conventional soft-drink sales. Or maybe the serendipitous byproduct of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi's strategy for integrating snacking and refreshment experiences that used to be separate. But the company is coming up with more interesting sensory mashups these days.

For example, PepsiCo is seeking to patent a method of encapsulating scents within beverage packaging to entice US consumers with "favorable aromas" before they drink the beverage, according to The "aroma delivery system" would use one or more compounds encapsulated in gelatine capsules that are broken when a drink container is opened, the publication said.

"Consumers evaluate many products by the aroma emitted from the product or the container in which the product is made available," wrote the inventors in the patent, which was filed last year and published earlier this year. "Edible products, such as juices and coffee, are expected to have a fresh aroma that replicates or evokes memory of the epxected flavor of the product."Continue reading...

mobile brands

Apple Eyes Emerging Markets with Colorful 5C, but 'Forward Thinking' 5S May Fall to Competitors

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 10, 2013 05:11 PM

The mobile industry's most highly anticipated event of the year has come and gone, leaving some innovation in its wake—but very little surprise. 

Today's iPhone event at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. headquarters confirmed a handful of rumors that have been circulating for weeks: two iPhones, the upgraded 5S and the more affordable, plastic 5C. The colorful 5C, which is essentially the iPhone 5 in a plastic shell, is the company's first foray into a value-centric device—a metric that will lend itself well in important mobile markets like China and India.

Available globally on Sept. 20, the two new devices will grant the company access into markets where it has previously encountered obstacles, though Cook and his colleagues did not mention any specific deal with China Mobile, the country's largest mobile provider. They did, however, highlight several providers in Japan that will offer the new iPhones

While more was revealed—additional details of iOS 7, updated camera functions, a new, faster processor chip—there was no mention of wearables, including Apple's eventual release of its rumored iWatch, leaving it more difficult to declare a winner in the latest mobile wars, especially between Apple and rival Samsung, which debuted its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and new Galaxy Note phablet last week.Continue reading...

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