Hungry for Films

An Anime-Car promotion in the US?

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A friend alerted me to a new product promotion that Toyota launched sometime within the last 48 hours.  Apparently the Japanese car manufacturer decided that the best way to promote the Corolla was to tie it to Hatsune Miku, a Vocaloid.

For those of you that have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, a Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer program developed in Japan.  I’m not entirely clear on how large the following is in Japan, but it’s strong enough that there have been at least two concerts featuring the various Vocaloid characters.  The Vocaloid following in the United States is a small slice of the population.  Knowledge of the characters is predominantly found in Japanophile and Anime circles, so Toyota isn’t going to net much of the average population.

I suspect their goal is to attract young teenagers and twenty-somethings looking to buy an affordable car and they feel the best way to approach the market is by tapping into the current popularity of anime.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ve done a very good job of putting their package together.

Check out their promotional website.  They’ve jettisoned the usual style of artwork for Miku in favor of a more American styled woman.  Perhaps the marketers felt that the average American couldn’t identify with such a cartoonish character.  I think that this rendition of Miku looks a bit creepy.  It’s not nearly as innocent and cheerful looking as the original design.  The commercials compound the problems of this design by using models of Miku built for the games and software which isolates the primary image of the website even more.

The commercials present an interesting concept, but aren’t particularly grabbing, especially since they feature a loud scream from Miku about halfway through.  The scream hurt my ears when I watched the commercial and I don’t think I’d be interested in buying a car with such a turn off in the promotion.

This post isn’t particularly film related, but I do think it’s interesting that a Japanese car manufacturer is using Japanese culture to try to sell cars in the US.  There are no signs that they’re holding a parallel promotion with Miku in Japan, so this is purely for American audiences.  It says a lot about the influence of Japanese culture on the US, especially the younger generations that have had access to the Internet for most of their lives.  Is this the early signs of a global culture emerging or just a result of younger people becoming fascinated with non-western cultures?


Written by Christopher Siler

2011/05/07 at 09:04

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