Dole Japan Promo, Case study TOKYO MARATHON LUCKY BANANA by Dentsu Kansai / Dentsu Y&R, Dentsu Public Relations Tokyo, Dentsu Y&R Tokyo

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Industry Baking, Cakes & Desserts
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Japan
Agency Dentsu Kansai / Dentsu Y&R
Director Yuki Fuse
Agency Dentsu Public Relations Tokyo
Director Yuki Fuse
Agency Dentsu Y&R Tokyo
Released January 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Sponsorship
Advertiser: DOLE JAPAN
Product/Service: GOKUSEN BANANAS
Agency: DENTSU Y&R
Director/Communication Planner: Yuki Fuse (Dentsu Young / Rubicam)
Communication Planner: Jiro Hayashi (Dentsu Young / Rubicam)
Account Director: Shoichi Yamakawa (Dentsu Young / Rubicam)
Account Planner: Naoko Gotoh (Dentsu Young / Rubicam)
Event Producer: Akira Kitagawa (Dentsu Young / Rubicam)
Movie Producer: Kenji Muramatsu (Taiyo Kikaku Co.)
Movie Director/Planner: Shuhei Yamabe (Taiyo Kikaku Co.)
Production Manager: Shoichi Suwa (Taiyo Kikaku Co.)
Production Assistant: Kei Terayama (Taiyo Kikaku Co.)
Camera: Junichi Kato
Editer: Hiroshi Kondo
Media Relations: Isao Sato (Dentsu Public Relations)
Web Producer: Masumi Yamada (Puzzle)
Web Producer: Jun Kawashima (Puzzle)
Web Director: Mineko Nakagawa (Puzzle)
Web Designer: Kent Mori (Puzzle)
Flash Developer: Kei Yamada (Puzzle)
Coder: Naoki Endo (Puzzle)
Web Production Manager: Shoko Takahashi (Puzzle)
Production Assistant: Ei Miyata (Puzzle)
Media placement: Campaign Website - Dole Website , Dole Facebook Page , Dole Twitter , YouTube Channel - 26 January 2012
Media placement: TV Publicity - NHK, TBS, NTV, EX, TX - 21 February 2012
Media placement: Web Publicity - Yahoo!Japan, MSN Japan , Mixi - 2 February 2012
Media placement: NP Publicity - Tokyo Shimbun , Nippon Shokuryo Shinbun - 17 February 2012
Media placement: Radio Publicity - TBS Radio - 22 February 2012
Media placement: SNS Check-In Sampling Event - Shibuya Station - 8 February 2012
Media placement: Special Vending Machine Event - Tokyo Big Site - 23-25 February 2012

Summary of the Campaign
Taking advantage of the current marathon boom and Dole’s sponsorship of the Tokyo Marathon, we developed an all-out pursuit of good luck for the many runners who want to participate in the Tokyo Marathon. For the campaign, a special banana was selected from over 100 varieties of banana, and designated a 'lucky banana' because of its success in winning this honor.

Following the example of Japan’s most successful Japanese marathon team, we played a 'lucky song' selected by that team to the bananas while they were ripening. As the saying goes, 'Man turns to the Gods only when in trouble'. By emulating the Japanese custom to visit a shrine to wish for good luck, we developed a 'lucky banana' vending-machine combined with a shrine. Each lucky banana sold has an 'omikuji' (written fortune), giving advice on how to bring good luck.

The campaign caught the attention of both the mass-media and social-media, obtaining a PR value of US$2.5m. The atmosphere of bringing good luck with the lucky banana led to customer-purchases that boosted banana-sales by 250%.

The Situation
Bananas are difficult to differentiate by brand, while sales are driven primarily by retail prices in supermarkets and fruit-and-vegetable shops and are subject to fierce competition. In order to overcome the competition, Dole dared to develop a banana called, 'GOKUSEN' (meaning special selection) whose price is 2 to 3 times higher than that of regular bananas.

The challenge was to create a specialness that gave consumers a reason to buy the more expensive banana, while increasing brand recognition and maximizing the distribution of a ‘commodity’.

The Goal
Japan is enjoying an unprecedented marathon boom, and the Tokyo Marathon is one of the largest public events held every year in Japan. The expected number of applicants for 2012 was 284,000, meaning about 90% of applicants cannot participate in the Marathon, despite them training for over a year.

Our goal was to encourage runners to energetically take on these daunting odds via the lucky Dole Gokusen banana, in harmony with the national custom of wishing for positive results.

The Strategy
The key is how to communicate information on a banana, which usually attracts little attention from consumers. The 2 main points are as follows:
1. The desire of runners across the country to participate in the Tokyo Marathon;
2. The potentials of purchasing power creation by creating a buzz while taking advantage of lucky persons or goods.

We relayed the fact that the banana, after extensive research and development, was selected from more than 100 varieties of banana nursery trees through the following message: 'this lucky banana is 1 in 100'.
In addition, the lucky story was added to it that the banana could bring good luck in being selected by lottery for the next year’s Tokyo Marathon. The official recognition of the marathon event helped to differentiate the banana from others.

We relentlessly pursued good luck.

In the process of ripening the bananas, we played a 'lucky song' for them, following the successful example of Japan’s luckiest marathon team.

In terminal stations, we set up vending machines for Dole's 'Lucky Banana'. An event was held where people could gete the banana for free if they checked in on SNS. Friends who saw their tweets and comments on SNS bought the special bananas.

Also, taking advantage of the Japanese custom to visit a shrine to wish for good luck, the banana vending machines emulated elements of a shrine to sell the bananas. Each banana had an ‘omikuji’ (written fortune) attached, giving advice and wishing luck to purchasers who wished to be selected by lottery for the upcoming Tokyo Marathon.

Documented Results
With communication with runners used as a driver for creating buzz, a total of 60 media, including TV programs and websites covered the campaign, producing a PR value of US$2.5m in earned media, and obtaining 11 times more exposure over cost.

The campaign successfully increased recognition of 'Gokusen', not only among runners, but also among a wide range of consumers, and differentiated the brand from others.

The total shipments of Dole bananas increased 250% over the same period last year. The campaign also contributed to increased display-space in stores.