With the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan right now, it felt even more touching when this year’s The Grand Cup of the Intercontinental Advertising Cup went to The Yubari Project.
Yubari is a town in the far North of Japan in Hokkaido, in the past it was a thriving coal mining town, and at its peak in the 60s, they had a population of 120,000. Today, the coal mining industry had closed and the population had dropped to 12,000. Coal mining exists only in the city’s coal mining museum. When the coal mines closed, Yubari tried to transform itself into a tourist attraction, building roller coaster and fairy wheels. The facilities continued to be built despite of the economic bubble burst, until the city started to suffered an increasingly large debt. In 2009, the town declared bankrupt with a debt of $330 million. The Beacon Communications came up with an idea after discovering a stunning fact – Yubari was the city with the lowest divorce rates in Japan. So they developed a campaign called a city with ‘No money but love’. An icon in the form of cartoon character is named ‘Yubari-Fusai’. In Japanese, ‘Fusai’ has a double meaning of ‘debt’ and ‘spouse’. The campaign not only had generated goodwill for the town, newlyweds from all over Japan started to come to Yubari to receive blessing for their union, the toen was soon filled with all kinds of merchandise from confectionery, beer, CDs and toys, which generated the much needed income for the people.
The touching part about this campaign is not only the fact that someone is making use of the power of marketing in something extremely meaningful and rewarding, it also reflects Japanese is a culture full of compassion and affection.