Company officials say that unlike traditional advertising mediums, online services provide an opportunity to reach millions of consumers at very little cost. The savings, they say, allow them to use their ad budgets for even more high-profile, at times, hair-raising stunts.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary in Japan, Domino's Pizza Japan Inc. announced in October that it would offer 2.5 million yen to anyone willing to take up an "extremely short-term, part-time job lasting only one hour" in December. The actual job was cleverly kept secret, and the company said only those who were selected following a screening process would be notified about what the job entailed.
Her assignment: Pick up a pizza from a Domino's in Tokyo's Mitaka, hop on a flight to Izu-Oshima island, and deliver it to a waiting customer. Ecstatic company officials said they were overwhelmed by response.
"While the 2.5 million yen was like a reward, the advertising effect was much larger than any ad campaign costing 2.5 million yen," said a company official. Traditional newspaper or TV advertisements can reach the range of hundreds of million yen, including production costs. "Free advertising" is the holy grail for companies. Creating a campaign that gets mentioned on the Internet rockets PR officials into a state of bliss.
The buzz effect is compounded when TV and newspaper reporters pick up the trail. Nihon Kraft Foods Ltd. held a 2-million yen sweepstakes to mark the nationwide launch of Stride gum in November. What set it apart from other campaigns was that it was a winner-take-all contest, unlike everyday sweepstakes which dole out small amounts to a large number of winners. "We figured that giving one person 2 million yen would create a bigger buzz than dividing up the money among 200 people," a spokesperson for the processed food company said.
The campaign is a twofer--Ultraman's hawking of Meiji's dairy dessert products also serves to promote the superhero's latest movie.
Again, information technology played a crucial role, as purchasers of the dairy products can obtain discount coupons for the Ultraman movie or original ring tones by scanning QR (quick response) codes printed on the packages with their cellphone cameras.
"While people have sought out topics of conversation for ages, social networking services and Twitter have helped spread such information across society." (Asahi)